Gaming

What’s the best cribbage app?

Best cribbage app
Cribbage Classic: you can't beat a good hand

I know what you’re thinking – who is this cutting-edge fashionista with his fancy card games? But if there’s not space in the 21st century for a card game in which you score “one for his nob” then I don’t want to live in it.  For those of you with me, here’s my verdict on what is the best cribbage app.

Cribbage with Grandpas (4 stars)

Let’s face it, Cribbage is an old boys’ game, and so if you’re going to play you might as well face off against some AI elders. Cribbage With Grandpas lets you do just that, allowing you to customise a care home’s worth of card-playing pensioners, each of which have their own personality traits, style of play and skill level.

Cribbage with Grandpas

You also get to customise their appearance and living quarters, and then ahead of each session you can decide which of your personalised pensioners to take on. Each keeps score, so if you’re finding Alf too tough you can move on to Malcolm.

I’ll square with you, I find the in-game chat (text rather than audio) a bit wearing. Thankfully, one of the grandpa settings lets you adjust their chattiness. I prefer mine to shut up and play cards, truth be told.

Cribbage with Grandpas

As for the gameplay itself, it’s pretty strong, with the different skill levels clearly evident. The cards have a rather odd design, which takes some getting used to, and unlike the other two cribbage games here, you have to score your own hand (selecting the cards that make a ’15’, for example). If you make a mistake, grandpa won’t prompt you to recount – you just lose the points. Trust me, I’ve tried.

In one game we saw a bug where it wouldn’t let us count a flush, which was infuriating, but we’ve only seen it once in a dozen or more hands. Otherwise, it’s an entertaining take on the game and only a couple of quid on either Android or iOS.

Cribbage Classic (4 stars)

Cribbage Classic is the game I’ve had on my iPad for a year or so, and it’s one I keep coming back to. It’s not only a decent game, it’s a knowledgable teacher, too. And it’s free.

There are three difficulty levels: Easy, Standard or Pro. Easy is insultingly soft, Standard will give you a decent game, and Pro is almost infallible. Everything is kept dead simple – there’s no flashy graphics, rewards to be earned or intrusive ads (on the iPad, at least). The worst you’ll get is a tiny banner ad for the thing you bought on Amazon last week (God bless targeted adverts).

Cribbage Classic

The best thing about this game is what happens after the game has finished. There is a Discard Analyser that assesses the cards you put in your own crib or handed to an opponent, telling you how many points better off you’d have been on average if you’d done things differently. There’s a grim satisfaction to be had from gradually beating down your “suboptimal play history” into single digits.

The Discard Analyser can be used during games too, allowing you to enter your hand and take advice on which two cards to discard. It’s cheating at a Lance Armstrong level, but a helping hand for those learning Cribbage or trying to re-remember the rules, having last played with Grandad in 1985.

Cribbage Classic

Cribbage Classic is also available on Android and from the Windows Store, although Windows Store reviewers complain of bugs in the app, delivering an average rating of only 3.3 stars.

Cribbage Deluxe (3 stars)

Windows players who can’t get no satisfaction from Cribbage Classic should give Cribbage Deluxe a try. It’s pretty similar to Cribbage Classic, although it includes a reward system, where the more you play the more coins you can put towards fancier card decks or boards. I’ll leave it, if it’s all the same…

Cribbage Deluxe

Cribbage Deluxe is a little gentler on beginners, giving you a summary of all the scoring after each hand, instead of hoping that you’ll follow the counting like Cribbage Classic does. You can stop a game midway through and resume where you left off, which is another plus over Classic.

Cribbage Deluxe

The ads are a little larger than they are in Cribbage Classic, but they won’t scare the chickens. And given the app is free, it’s almost churlish to complain.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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  • Hi ! I live in Moldova… it is’t “cribbage country” but i love cribbage game, i love Cribbage Classic iOS app. Thanks for the post and …I also like Cribbage with grandpa for iOS. Good luck … I’m here alone in my love for Cribbage 🙁

    Igor, Chisinau, Moldova

  • I just deleted the app. Alot of people like it and alot point out significant programming flaws. I reached a point that any level that I was playing was not worth the time I was wasting trying to have a strategy when there was no way I could win or even come close. Feed back is negative using suboptimal plays..where I missed .2 of a point. 😳 if it is the goal to teach and improve cribbage play this is sub- standard programing. By the way I am a very good cribbage player especially when deals are random. Thanks for the debrief…i actually got this app on your above recommendation.

  • Respectfully, I disagree with you regarding Cribbage Classic online. The AI seems poorly programmed. For starters, it plays “up” its hand. That is, it plays its cards in ascending order, unless there’s a scoring possibility. After it scores, it again “climbs the ladder.” That’s why it will sometimes lead with a 5 (the lowest card in its hand). Once you, its opponent, figure that out you’re free to make any unorthodox move. A simple example: if its last card played was, say, an 8 on a non-scoring throw, I can play a 5 to give a count of 26, because I know its remaining cards contain no card lower than an 8; really handy if I have another 5. Too, its supposedly sub-optimal move feature doesn’t reflect various strategies, but I’ll not take the time to create scenarios. Suffice to say, I’ve seen any number of times it was totally wrong. Cribbage seems to involve almost as much luck as it does skill. If you don’t get the cards, or if you don’t get the cuts, you’ll quickly find any lead pone has insurmountable. You can lose a game to the rankest beginner who consistently gets cards and cuts, if you’re rarely getting either. Theoretically, over time, the cards “balance out” and a better player will win more than they lose. Back to Cribbage Classic: in 1348 games since I last cleared my statistics, my winning % is 97% against its Easy level (390 games), 76% vs. Standard (295 games), and 71% against Pro (663 games) for an overall 80% win rate. I wish I was that good a player. I play online against players of varying skill levels and I stay at slightly under 57% with both long losing and winning streaks. Online cribbage is a significantly different game than is in-person with cards manually shuffled and dealt. Of a dozen or so of us in our local cribbage group, I’m more often than not the winner. We don’t keep records, but overall I win about 6 of 10 games. We thrill at an 8 hand, oooh, at a 12, marvel at a 16, and often stop so others can come over to be agog at a 20+ hand. Today online, in two consecutive games, my pones opened with 24s. One player then followed with an 18 and a 20, excluding cribs. (I sometimes liken it to Oklahoma St University vs. Texas Tech in 1990s college football, when they seemed to regularly play games with scores like 67-58.). In online cribbage, it apparently has something to do with a randomizer algorithm, whatever that means, versus cards being insufficiently shuffled after each hand in in-person cribbage. And, oh yes, I totally agree with you on Cribbage with Grandpa, it’s a hoot! Being a grandpa myself (aged 72 with 50 years at the ancient and honorable game), I wish I had the various computer skills that would allow me to do screenshots and whatnots and then place them wherever I want, like you can, because I would have done so in these comments. My tech, questions or otherwise, is minimal, rather than “Big.”

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