5 Backgammon Tips every Backgammon Player should Know


5 Backgammon Tips

Here are my best 5 pieces of advice for Beginning and Advanced Backgammon Players.

Beginners Backgammon Tips:

  1. Backgammon is NOT a game of luck. It is a game of odds. The better you play the odds the more you will win. Not every time, but the better player will win more often than the worse player. And if a player is a lot better, he will win a lot more. DO NOT focus on the dice and the luck of the game, and don’t just shake your head when you lose and think about your bad luck or his good luck. That will distract you from thinking about what plays you made that may have given your opponent the opportunity to win with a little luck.
  2. You cannot learn the game of backgammon just by playing and trying to figure it out. If you really want to learn the game, you must get help. You must read articles and books and get some coaching from better players. It would take even the smartest people in the world quite a while to figure out things the experts have learned over the years and written down for our benefit.
  3. Remember the most overriding principle of backgammon: Every game is a race. The first one to get their checkers around the board and off is the winner. Even if the game ends with cube action, the person who dropped did so because he was sure he couldn’t win that race. Learn how to count the race (pips) and get into the habit of knowing where you stand at all times.
  4. The doubling cube is a weapon. It should be used to hurt your opponent. If turning the cube does not cause some pain or anxiety to your opponent, you are either cubing too early or too late. Don’t give it away too soon, because ownership of the cube, like ownership of a weapon, gives you power.
  5. Learning and getting better in backgammon is enjoyable. Many beginners do not do much to improve their game. They simply think it is fun to play, and why bother to turn it into “work” by studying and learning more. What those of us who are addicted to backgammon have found is that it is the act of learning and improving that, more than anything else, makes the game more enjoyable. The more you learn, the more confident you feel when you are playing; the more often you will win; and the more you will enjoy the game. The best players in the world are constantly studying positions and constantly learning backgammon, not just to improve their game, but because it’s fun.

Advanced Backgammon Tips:

  1. Most experienced and advance players have a decent understanding of the cube, but they really don’t fully understand match equity and how to apply the math. If you don’t know, by memorization, the match equity tables, and can’t figure out your “take point” at a given score, you can’t possibly make a truly informed decision about whether to give or take a cube. You are only making an educated guess. You have to know your take point and your opponent’s take point and the cost of gammons before you can truly make an”educated” decision on the cube.
  2. If you are an advanced player, you understand the importance of the race, but do you always know the exact pip count, or have a pretty good idea of the pip count? Great players do. If you want to take your game to a higher level you must always keep the pip count in mind and you must know how to apply more than just the pip count to cube decisions…you must know how to make adjustments for distribution, for cross-overs, and for the score.
  3. If you are not using a bot (Snowie, GNUBG, or Jellyfish) to check you plays and your skills, you are not really improving your game. Virtually all top players are constantly studying backgammon positions and plays, and even practicing against a bot to check their skills and their thinking about various positions.
  4. Do you know what really separates the good players from the great players more than anything? It’s attitude. It’s that thing you can’t measure with a bot. It’s the ability to stay focused over the board, and not focused on the dice…focused on making the best plays and decisions. Focused on watching your opponent closely to see if you can find weaknesses in his game that you can exploit. Focused on being conscious of the score, of the count, of what the right decisions are. Focused on winning, regardless of how low the odds seem to be. If you want to be a winner, act and think like one. Don’t get all upset and emotional and sidetracked by bad rolls, or by an irritating opponent, or about distractions in the room. Play Backgammon to win, and give it all you have at all times. And when you lose, if you played your best, it won’t feel like a defeat at all. That’s what the Backgammon game is all about.

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