A table of six work on racking up points.


Every Monday morning, a group of cribbage players meets at the Mary J Barnett Memorial Library in Guthrie Center

By Rich Wicks | Guthrie Center Times

Even if you don’t know what “nobs” or “crib” mean, and even if you can’t tell your “flush” from a “skunk,” you can easily learn the card game of cribbage. In fact, there’s a local group that welcomes you to join them as they teach you the game.

Every Monday morning, a group of cribbage players meets at the Mary J Barnett Memorial Library in Guthrie Center at 8:30 a.m. Players gather around tables and begin shuffling and dealing out cards. On a recent Monday, 13 players had gathered and divided into groups of six, four and three. Those present included Jim Carico, Kay Phippen, Bob Klever, Joanne Zieser, Debbie Kiefer, Larry Gardiner, Dan Webb, Dennis Betts, Wayne Nickel, Bill Sheeder, Rhonda Titus, Clint Malbon and Allen Pierce. Each week, Bob Klever keeps track of which players rack up the most impressive scores and sends the results to be published in the Guthrie County Times Vedette digital edition (www.gctimesnews.com).

Cribbage is a game of numbers. Players earn points for combining cards together to make runs or scoring combinations. The math is simple, but cribbage involves strategy, too. Sometimes the best move is to try to score points, but, at other times, it’s best to try to stop the opponent from scoring.

“We started with classes 11 years ago,” Carico said. “It’s a game based on an earlier game from the United Kingdom. It’s a fantastic game. A hand is four cards.”

Carico demonstrated playing a card based on what was played immediately before his turn. Based on points earned, players move pegs on a board that serves as the scoreboard.

Cribbage is a fast-paced game that relies on experience and intuition, as well as a fair dose of luck. But, as the group demonstrated, once the rules are understood, players can easily chat as they play, since there are no complex calculations needed. Sometimes, players bring along snacks to share and enjoy between games. On this particular day, crackers and venison sausage were enjoyed.

It’s clear that the Monday morning cribbage players enjoy the game and the socializing that goes along with it. In fact, they enjoy cribbage so much that once a week isn’t enough. So, the group plays on Mondays at 8:30 a.m. at the Mary J Barnett Memorial Library, on Wednesdays at 8 a.m. at the New Homestead Assisted Living, and on Fridays at 1 p.m. at the Guthrie Center Activity Center. Besides the regular weekly sessions, Carico told of some special cribbage events throughout the year.

“There’s a cribbage tournament during Panorama Days, the first weekend in August. Then there’s the tournament during the county fair,” Carico said. “The State Fair has a big tournament down there, too.”

Carico and the others welcome anyone to join them and try cribbage. The experienced players said they’re always willing to slow down and help a newbie learn the game. 

Carico pointed out a significant difference between cribbage and poker. Although bluffing is a crucial part of poker, there is no bluffing in cribbage; players simply have to play their cards to the best of their ability.

“It’s a pretty honest game,” Carico said. 

Know someone in the Guthrie Center/Adair/Casey area who has an interesting collection or hobby? Send suggestions to rich@iowalivingmagazines.com.

Players rotate to different tables after each completed game.