Bob Rogalski knew he had a good hand.
He was playing cribbage with his regular Tuesday seniors cribbage group at Glenwood Estates in Langley when he was dealt a club jack and three fives.
If the cut card turned out to be another five, and the same suit as the jack, it would be worth 29 points, a so-called “perfect hand” which is the highest possible score in cribbage and the rarest card combination.
“I was darn close. I thought, wouldn’t that be nice,” recalled Rogalski, a Murrayville resident who has been playing for almost three decades.
Right after that, a five of clubs came up in the cut deck.
“I was very lucky,” Rogalski said.
Betty Krentz, who was playing at the same table, confirmed it.
“It was quite a moment,” Krentz said.
Most estimates place the odds of getting that particular combination of cards in cribbage at one in 216,580.
To put that in perspective, a golfer has a better odds of scoring a hole-in-one, one in 12,500, while poker players face even steeper odds of getting a royal flush in straight poker, of one in 649,740.
Roger Eberle, an experienced player and captain of the Murrayville team in the Langley Crib Club, said it is possible for a player to go their whole life without getting a 29.
“I’ve never had one, and I’ve been playing for 50 years,” Eberle said.
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What make Rogalski’s 29 even rarer is the day it took place, Tuesday, Oct. 29.
“Twenty-nine on the 29th,” as he put it.
Cribbage is a card game that’s been around for hundreds of years.
Also known as crib, the card-playing pastime was reportedly created by English poet Sir John Suckling in the early 17th century and remains, virtually unchanged, one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world.
There is a crib — a separate hand counting for the dealer — as well as a cribbage board used for scorekeeping. Points are scored for card combinations that add up to 15, for pairs, triples, quadruples, runs and flushes.