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How to Win at Backgammon: 17 Tips, Tricks & Strategies (for Beginners)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Backgammon is one of the oldest table-top board games in the world and is still widely popular today. Like its counterpart, chess, the game is easy to pick up and play but extremely difficult to master. Unlike chess, however, Backgammon is a game that relies on skill as well as on luck. 

In order to be great or competitive at Backgammon in the long run, skill, strategies, and tricks are what get you ahead. Luck can only get you so far. Any of the top players who play Backgammon will tell you that you may win 10% of games by luck. However, to win the rest of the games, players have to rely on skill to outwit their opponents.

This is one of the many reasons why Backgammon has stood the test of time, in terms of popularity and player base, and it’s still enjoyed by many around the world. 

The popularity of this game is once again on the rise, and as such, we have compiled a list of some of the top tips, tricks, and strategies for beginners looking to improve and win at Backgammon.

1. Defense Vs. Offense

At such a point in the game when your opponent is fundamentally ahead in Backgammon, you will find it helpful now and again to fall behind; purposely. You can advance your situation by allowing your adversary to hit you. It will help fortify your defense without hampering any offensive strategies you may have in mind.

Like all the best strategy games, Backgammon also relies on the perfect balance of defense and offense to pull out that win!

2. Keep Your Opponent From Scoring A Prime

Fabricate your opponent’s 5 and 6 points to keep him from making a prime. This is especially useful if your opponent has been making points at your home board.

3. When In Front, Keep Racing Ahead

Assuming that you are ahead, continue to push forward. Attempt to move as many pieces forward as quickly to break through your opponent’s defense. When racing ahead, try not to allow the opponent to hit you for a quick and clinical finish.

4. Hit Blots When Necessary

A ‘blot’ occurs when the opponent leaves a checker alone on a point. In such a case, rolling the right numbers can give you a chance to ‘hit’ that checker piece and take it out. If you ever find yourself in a situation where delaying is the best move, hit! It is generally the best move to make in such a situation.

5. Make 5 & 6 Primes Whenever Possible

Many experts agree that ‘priming’ is one of the best strategies to implement to be more consistent at winning in Backgammon. 

A prime is essentially a sequence of 4 or more checkers in a single block. The opponent’s checker can’t touch down on a blocked point; thus, having a 6-prime makes it virtually impossible for them to get ahead unless they break the prime first, resulting in many wasted dice rolls.

6. Offer A Double Cube Play At Opportunistic Times 

Offer or acknowledge a double in the event that your rival is ahead in the match. For example, in the event that the score is 2-0 for your opponent, in a series of 3, you ought to acknowledge a doubling cube if proposed to you and afterward double once more, if you can, since there’s no reason for you not to go for it. 

Assuming you lose the backgammon game, you lose the series regardless of whether you double. Yet, by doubling up, you have a chance to win the series by dominating the last match. It’s a long shot, but it could be your only hope of winning.

7. The Golden Anchor

Your very own 5-point in the game is referred to as the “Golden Point”. However, if you manage to hold a 5-point in the opponent’s base, you have a “Golden Anchor”. At this point, your opponent has very limited options, and you can pretty much dictate the match.

8. The Opening Move

The opening move can have a huge impact on how the game is likely to play out. Having a strategy early and studying the many types of opening moves and counters to your opponent’s opening moves can help your game greatly and can lead to a lot more wins. 

9. The Running Game Strategy

This basic strategy involves having your checkers reach your home board as quickly as possible. 

As you might be thinking already, if both the players play the running game strategy, the game ultimately relies on who gets the higher rolls. As such, only commit to this strategy if you open with strong high rolls, and your opponent doesn’t. 

10. The Blitz Strategy

Much like the ‘Blitzkrieg’ strategy used by the Germans in World War ll, blitz is a strategy used in Backgammon, whereby you go on a full-out attack against any of your opponent’s vulnerable checkers. The advantage of doing this is that you will send your opponent’s checkers to the bar, where they can get trapped and cost your opponent a number of pips. 

This is a risky strategy as if your attacking checker is left vulnerable, you could end up losing a lot of pips yourself.

11. The Priming Strategy

This is the best strategy for beginners to learn. Priming allows you to form a wall that covers a number of consecutive points. The opponent can’t get past if they don’t roll either a five or a six. This strategy not only slows down the opponent but makes for a safe zone when looking to advance checkers forward. 

Priming, when combined with the blitz strategy, is known as the “two-way forward attack”. This combination can be extremely effective and can get you a lot of wins once mastered. As such, as a beginner, it is best to start learning early.

12. The Holding Game Strategy

This strategy works by maintaining an anchor point on your rival’s home board. In most cases, it’s often wise to propel your attacking checkers early in the game in an attempt to outrun your opponent. However, leaving an anchor point on the rival’s home board offers the player both a defensive and offensive advantage. 

From a defense perspective, it gives you a safe spot to land in case any of your checkers are sent to the bar. Whereas, offensively, it poses a threat to any of the opponent’s attacking checkers, making them vary of attacking you.

13. The Back Game Strategy

“The back game” is a strategy that involves multiple holding points on your opponent’s home board. This is a sort of last resort strategy in the event your opponent keeps sending your advancing checkers to the bar. Using this strategy eats up real estate on your opponent’s home board, making things inconvenient for them at the very least.

14. Never Race When Behind

Playing the racing game strategy with an opponent that already has a leg-up on you isn’t wise. Instead of continuing to move your back checkers forward, opt for a more defensive strategy to stall your opponent’s progress and strike a counter-offensive.

15. Duplication

This unique strategy places checkers in such a way that your opponent will need the exact same dice rolls in order to make different moves. This can help reduce the probability of your opponent hitting your checkers more than once. 

16. Diversification

This is the opposite of the duplication strategy, whereby you place checkers in such a way that random numbers become more useful instead of having to roll specific numbers to make a move.

17. Watching & Learning

Perhaps the best way to try and understand and better implement these strategies in real-time scenarios is to watch professional Backgammon matches. You can also choose to join a local club or an online community with like-minded players who can advise and assist you during an actual game! 

All in All

Following these tips and strategies, and applying them in your next Backgammon game, will certainly give your opponents a few nasty surprises they weren’t counting on! 

Always remember, the more you play, the better you will get and the more you will learn. The best wins in Backgammon are hard-fought, where the victor doesn’t win by luck but rather by outwitting their opponent through strategy and skill!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.