Advanced Backgammon Strategies

The game of backgammon is arguably one of the most popular games in the world. Beginning centuries ago, with evidence found that games similar to backgammon were played by the Ancient Romans and other groups; backgammon has only continued to increase in popularity today. While the game itself is fairly easy to learn, mastering the strategies behind the game are considerably harder. For advanced players, there are many different strategies to take advantage of throughout the game in order to give your opponent a taste of a true backgammon master. As with any game, it’s important to understand that learning the basic rules of backgammon is only the first step. Comprehending and then mastering the different strategies behind playing backgammon is an essential part of the entire process.

Man Playing Backgammon

For advanced players, there are several variations of the game of backgammon to take your strategy cues from.

The holding game and the blitz are two strategies that advanced players can incorporate into their game play in order to increase their chances of winning. With the holding game, a player will keep a point high on his opponent’s board while that player continues to build his board. By hitting the opponent’s blot from the specific held point, a player has a chance of winning the game. Subsequently, rolling large doubles that have the ability to break the point will enable to player to take the game lead away from his or her opponent. It’s relatively simple compared to most advanced player strategies, but it takes a little skill and a lot of luck in order to pull this particular strategy off.

Blitz strategy

With the Blitz strategy, a player will need to close out their home board as quickly as they can while simultaneously keeping their opponent on the bar. Depending on the throw of the dice, your opponent can end up in serious trouble very quickly. Let’s say you have managed to close off half of your inner board, while your opponent only has two checkers on the bar. You’ve almost won the game at this point unless your opponent can make a serious comeback. In any case, the blitz strategy when accurately executed can spell heaps of trouble for your opponent in a short amount of time. As a matter of fact, it’s arguably one of the best advanced backgammon strategies in the game.

Running Game, the Priming Game and the Back Game

There are also three other basic strategies you can incorporate into your backgammon game, and these are the running game, the priming game and the back game.

The running game is by far the easiest strategy to master and is ideal when a player has the lead in a game. It simply involves avoiding getting hit, blocked or trapped.

With the priming game, you attempt to block your opponent’s checkers with a six-long wall of your checkers. In doing so, you continue moving your checkers around as normal and attempt to bear off before your opponent can figure out how to get away from your blockade.

Finally, with a back game you’ll only want to use this strategy if you find yourself at a significant disadvantage early on in the game. It’s actually referred to as a losing strategy, and many beginning players make the mistake of incorporating this strategy into their game from the beginning. Advanced players need to realize this is a mistake, and should only be using this strategy to reverse their tactics and retreat to try and turn the game back over into their favor.


While beginning players may not choose to incorporate the doubling cube into their games, almost all advanced backgammon players will typically use a doubling cube throughout play. Not only does this increase the intensity of the game, but it also means more advanced strategies will have to be used while the doubling cube is in play. A six sided die, the doubling cube has the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 on it. Let’s say a player decides that he’s in an excellent position compared to his opponent. On his turn, he may ask for the stakes to be doubled. The die is placed with the 2-side facing up and the opponent then has the option to accept the doubling or resign the game immediately. Afterwards, whoever accepted the last double then has the right to redouble on a turn.

Following along with the doubling cube, there’s an advanced rule called Beavers. With beavers, a player has the right to immediately redouble when offered the doubling cube but gets to keep the cube rather than give it up. With this rule, there’s really no limit to how high the stakes can rise. As such, it’s important that players properly introduce strategy into their game when playing with advanced rules like this. Another rule similar to beavers is called raccoons. This simply means that once a player calls beaver to an initial double and their opponent feels that was a mistake, they can call a raccoon and double the cube again. These rules are generally only used in backgammon games where players compete for money, typically not during friendly matches.

There are two other additional strategies that advanced backgammon players take advantage of, called the Jacoby Rule and the Crawford Rule. With the Jacoby rule, backgammon players are only able to double and triple their gammons and backgammons points if the doubling cube has been used at least once during the game. What this means for strategy is that a player who has a large lead in the game is pretty much forced to double and possibly end the game, rather than continue the game out in order to possibly gain a gammon or backgammon.

Subsequently, with the Crawford rule, the game becomes much fairer for the player in the lead. To fix this situation, the Crawford rule requires that a player who is only one point away from winning a match cannot use the doubling cube. This applies to both the person in the lead and the opponent; thus with the Crawford rule, the doubling cube cannot be used for a single game. Once the Crawford rule becomes null, the doubling process commences normally. While the Jacoby rule is traditionally used in competitions for money, the Crawford rule finds its home during match play but isn’t as widely known as the Jacoby rule.

There’s also such a thing in advanced backgammon called automatic doubles. With automatic doubles, any re-roll that occurs during the very beginning of the game (in other words, when players roll the dice to see who goes first) has the possibility of causing a double. When players agree, automatic doubles are commonly used in games that are played for money. However, they are not used in match play. During money games, the Jacoby rule remains in effect even when automatic doubles has been agreed upon.

Now, advanced backgammon players can also take advantage of money games, where players compete for money rather than playing a friendly match. When gambling during a backgammon game, there are several common ways players go about doing this. For example, players can set a wager on the player they believe will obtain a specific score first; they can also bet a certain amount of money on each game, playing until a certain score is either reached or passed. Typically, provided all players agree with the wager and stipulations involved, there’s no end to the types of bets and the amount of money players can wager on backgammon games. Of course, when money is at risk players need to adapt their strategies to increase their likelihood of not only getting back their wager, but winning the pot as well. Beginning players do not normally play for money, but it’s a quite common practice among advanced players.

While it may seem like there are a lot of strategies and rules to remember, they are absolutely essential for advanced backgammon play. Each rule allows players to come up with the appropriate strategy to come out ahead and turn the game in their favor. While the game of backgammon itself is quite easy to learn, mastering the advanced strategies required to become a skilled backgammon player takes a lot of effort, time and dedication. There’s no denying that the game of backgammon requires skill as you practice and improve upon your talents; but it also takes a bit of luck as well. With practice and a regular incorporation of these rules and strategies into your game, advanced players will find themselves consistently outperforming their opponents and winning the games.

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