What Is The Jack In Cribbage & How Does It Work?

  • By: Zach
  • Date Updated: December 24, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

The Jack is one of those cards in Cribbage that you always get a little excited to see. 

Unless it’s on the other side of the board, then you hate to see it. 

But why is the Jack in Cribbage so valuable? 

On the surface, it’s not much more special than the other 10-value cards. 

As you’ll see in the rest of the article, it’s actually much more than that. 

Jack’s Value

The pip value or numerical value of the Jack is a ten-card. In slang* terms, this is called a dime. 

This doesn’t mean it’s worth ten points, but when counting during pegging and counting during the Show, it’s worth 10. 

Combined with a five or a value that adds up to five, it makes the 15, which is worth two points in both the Play (pegging) and counting hands (Show). 

If this was where it ended, the Jack would be just like the 10, Queen, or King, but it’s not! 

There are some special rules and considerations to consider. 

*Read more Cribbage slang in our list of common sayings here. 

What Happens When You Cut A Jack? (His Heels, Nibs)

After both players discard their two cards into the dealer’s crib, the non-dealer or Pone must cut the deck. 

The dealer then flips over the top card after the cut. This is called the Starter Card, Cut Card, or Turn-up card. 

If this card is a Jack, then the dealer counts two points right away. 

This is called nibs (less common) or his heels (more common). The phrase you often say to remember it and take your points is: “Two for his heels.”

Nobs Rules With Jacks

The other special rule with Jacks is called nobs. When a player has the Jack in their hand or crib, AND the suit of the Jack matches the cut card, they get one bonus point. 

This bonus point is counted during the Show or the counting phase of the game. 

For this reason, many people consider the Jack as always having a value of ¼ points. At any time, the cut card can match and add a single point. 

The ¼ figure comes from the odds of turning up the matching suit. 

When you have the matching Jack for nobs, it’s called having the “right Jack.”

Note: Nobs can’t happen when the cut card is a Jack. 

The Jack In Cribbage As A “Super Connector”

George “Ras” Rassmussen is a Life Master and official Cribbage Hall-of-Famer who loves to teach and talk about Cribbage. It’s from him that I first heard about this concept of Super Connectors. 

When you discard into a crib, certain cards tend to “fill out” runs and add a lot of points to the crib. 

If you’re the dealer and you have a choice, throw a super-connector. If you’re not, avoid it if possible. 

5s are always good for the Crib, but the Super Connectors are 3s in the low cards, 7s in the middle cards, and Jacks in the high cards. 

Why is the Jack a super connector? It sits in the middle of the high cards (10, Jack, Queen, King). 

But so does the Queen, right? So why is the Jack better? 

Well, the Pone or non-dealer isn’t always happy to toss a Jack into a crib. It has that chance of making a point for nobs, after all. 

So, they’ll throw other things, and quite often, it’ll be some ten-cards that don’t fit the rest of their hand. 

If they’re throwing things around the Jack, and you throw the Jack…now you have a run and even a potential double run! 

How The Jack Makes A 29 Hand

The Jack is the only ten-card that plays a role in the elusive 29-hand. This is the highest hand possible in Cribbage. 

It can only happen in the following scenario: 

  • Three 5s in your hand
  • The Jack that doesn’t match the suit of the other 5s also in your hand
  • The non-dealer cuts the last 5 (it matches the suit of the Jack)

Any other combination of four 5s and a ten-card results in a 28 hand, which is still quite good! 

But we need that nobs with the Jack to take us to the maximum 29 hand. 

It counts out like this: 

  1. 5-J makes 15 for two four times. So 8 points here. 
  2. Three 5s add up to 15. The combinations with this happen four times. So another 8 points here. 
  3. Four of a kind works out to six pairs. So 12 points here. 
  4. The Jack matches the starter card, so we get 1 point for nobs. 


For this reason, when we see a Jack with a bunch of fives, it’s best to keep it around. 

Jack In Pegging

The Jack in pegging is a fun one to keep and be aware of. 

Non-dealers are more likely to hold onto the Jack out of the other ten-cards because they don’t want to give nobs to the dealer’s crib. 

On the flip side, the dealer is MORE likely to throw the Jack because it’s a key connector. 

So when you’re the Pone, the Jack is a somewhat safer lead if you only have ten-cards. 

When you’re the dealer, a Jack isn’t a great play because the Pone is likely to pair it. 

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s an added layer of thought you need to consider when pegging that doesn’t show up with the other dimes. 

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