So, you want to play Cribbage with a friend even though you’re sheltered during the pandemic?
Of course, you could play on an app, but part of the joy and fun of playing a game like Cribbage is being able to chat and see the person you are playing with. There’s also a tactile experience to the game, holding the cards, moving your pegs around the track. So...
How about trying Webcam Cribbage?
Local Player’s Equipment
2 digital devices with cameras (I am using a laptop and a tablet).
1 Cribbage board
2 decks of cards
one deck shuffled and ready for play, the PLAY DECK
one deck separated by suit (if your OCD kicks in, you can certainly put the cards in each suit in order but it is not absolutely necessary). This is THE OFF HAND DECK
Remote Player’s Equipment
1 digital device with a camera
2 decks of cards
one deck shuffled and ready for play THE PLAY DECK
one deck separated by suit THE OFF HAND DECK
As the local player, you will be the host of the webcam Cribbage game, meaning you will be broadcasting the board to the remote player and you will be in charge of moving pegs as the game moves along.
One digital device will be used like a regular webcam broadcasting your voice and your smiling face.
The second digital device will broadcast the Cribbage board and display cards that you play.
You can play Webcam Cribbage on Skype or Zoom and countless others.
With Skype and Zoom, you will want to set up two separate accounts, one for each device/camera (both services are free and allow account signups with a separate email address for each one).
Login on each device under the separate accounts. So essentially you will have a FACECAM and a CRIBBAGE CAM.
Angle the CRIBBAGE CAM so that the board is in frame and close enough that you can place cards next to the board so the remote player can see them. I like a close angle and suggest you find a nice tablecloth to provide a nice background for the board. You can certainly do a top down angle on the board but I think the close angle is better.
How to Play
Each player shuffles their Play deck and cuts to a card. Low card wins the deal.
For sake of this example, we are going to say the local player wins the cut.
So, the local player is the dealer and will shuffle and deal out a hand of 6 cards for both players.
The local player, then holds up the 6 card hand of the remote player to the webcam (no peeking, dealer!), fanning the cards so all of them are visible.
The remote player takes the OFF HAND DECK (the one that is sorted by suit) and finds the cards displayed on the webcam to assemble the 6 card hand.
Once the remote player says “ready!” the local player puts the cards aside (face down)
For this point onward, you’re basically playing regular Cribbage!
Each player selects two cards for the crib and sets them aside.
The dealer offers the cut to the remote player by fanning the play deck slowly until the remote players says STOP.
Flip the cut card over and display it along with the deck on the CRIBBAGE CAM.
The remote player starts the pegging phase of the game by selecting a card and holding it up to the webcam and announces the count. Remote player plays a Queen and says 10.
The local player plays a Queen on the table on the CRIBBAGE CAM next to the board and says "20 and a pair for 2" and the first points are pegged
Lather rinse and repeat - just like regular Cribbage until all cards are played.
Each player scores his or her hand as normal including the cut card which is displayed on the CRIBBAGE CAM.
When the dealer scores the crib, the remote player, reveals the two cards set aside.
Now, it’s the remote player’s turn to deal and the process is exactly the same except the roles are reversed.
The remote player shuffles the play deck and deals two 6 card hands. The dealer then shows one of the two hands to the webcam (no peeking) and the local player uses the OFF HAND DECK to assemble the 6 cards displayed on screen. Once the cards are found, it’s back to regular Cribbage as described above.
It is essential that the CRIBBAGE CAM audio is muted (both the mic and the speakers) or you may get some dreadful feedback.
I have also discovered one weird audio glitch using newer model iPads and iPhones on Skype. Even when muted, the CRIBBAGE CAM speakers on these devices will not turn off completely. So you may get a tiny bit of echo. There’s a silly but effective workaround for this. If you have headphones you can plug in or pair with the CRIBBAGE CAM you can set the audio output to the headphones and the sound will not be heard any more. You dont need to wear these headphones at all, the goal is just to keep the sound from the CRIBBAGE CAM from being picked up by the FACE CAM mic.
Of course the first couple times finding your hand will take a little time, but having the separate deck sorted by suit will make this process go fairly quickly in no time at all.
This is not speed Cribbage. Use an app if you want that experience. Webcam Cribbage is about enjoying chatting and being able to visit while you play. I’ve played over a dozen times now and it is a ton of fun and a great way to relax. If both players are experienced and not very chatty, I’d say you can complete a game in 30-40 minutes. On average, I’d say my games last an hour or more, depending on how much time you spend chatting as you play.
Webcam Cribbage works great with 2 players and it's entirely do-able with 3 or 4. It just gets a little more fiddly and you have to make a concerted effort to remember whose deal it is and keep track of the order of play.
I hope this inspires more people to play Webcam Cribbage. It is a great way to connect and check in on friends and have some fun, too.
I’m happy to teach and play as often as my schedule allows. Send me a note if you’re interested - firstname.lastname@example.org