Monopoly: Is it a Game of Luck or Skill (or Both)?

Monopoly game board with car on Park Place
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I have been winning more Monopoly games than the average member of my family over the years. Is there a reason why? There certainly is, but it is not what everyone thinks. I am often accused of cheating, and nothing provides me with more satisfaction than telling people that I am simply “skilled in the art of Monopoly”. 

While that is a suitable rebuttal to the accusations for me, am I actually right? What is winning Monopoly all about? Is it driven purely by luck, or is there skill involved, and is that the real reason why I have been winning? I spent some time trying to figure it out.

Monopoly is a game of both luck and skills, as it involves a combination of people skills, some luck, as well as strategy. One cannot win Monopoly purely based on luck as the player has to make wise decisions on how to handle their money and investments after the roll of the dice has made a few decisions for them. And one cannot win purely on skill as the rolling of the dice takes a portion of the decision-making away from the player.

Playing Monopoly for me is just about having fun. I never really gave much thought to how much luck and/or skill was involved until I had to. But now that I have, it is evident to me that I have been actively learning skills and strategies over the years to increase my odds of winning – without even knowing it. 

If you want to learn more about the elements of luck and skill involved in Monopoly, read on. You could use my knowledge and strategies to improve your game and chances of winning too!

What the Game of Monopoly is All About!

So, Monopoly is not just about luck, or just about skill. It seems to be a careful combination of both. I must admit that in my experience, one cannot rely too heavily on either luck or skill when playing the game. It is best to spend time relying on luck (I close my eyes and hope) and putting your learned skills along the way to good use when you play a game of Monopoly. 

Let’s take a look at what someone requires to play a great game of Monopoly and have a high chance of winning as a result.

– Winning at Monopoly Requires People Skills

You are probably wondering what people skills have to do with Monopoly. The reality is that your people skills do play a role in the game. 

Friends sit in cafe, drink coffee and eat pizza
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While playing Monopoly, you will need to communicate clearly with the other players. You will also need to take the time to consider what they want and see if you are able to trade with them in a way that benefits both parties. Negotiation is a vital part of Monopoly, and without good people skills, you will not be able to trade in a way that benefits you. 

Also, keep in mind that Monopoly is not a quick game. You probably can’t have a quick round before school or in between work projects. It generally takes about 2 hours to complete a game, which means that you will be in close quarters with other people for a long period of time. In order to manage this effectively, you have to have good people skills. 

– Winning at Monopoly Involves a Certain Amount of Luck

There is always an element of chance or luck involved when it comes to playing a game like Monopoly. The game includes the rolling of dice so that players can make their way around the board. This introduces luck and chance to the game as there is absolutely nothing that a player can do to change the outcome of the rolled dice. If a player rolls a 3, they must move 3 spaces and what they land on determines what happens to them next. There is nothing that a player can do about that part of the game, making it pure chance or luck. 

It is interesting to note that while players do trade and make a considerable amount of decisions on the board, the rolling of the dice plays a major role in whether they win or lose. 

What the Experts Say

While doing my research, I found an interesting notation from Kevin Tostado, the director of the Emmy® award-winning documentary “Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story”. According to Tostado, W. Eric Martin, a popular board game reviewer, believes the game of Monopoly is about 10% skill and 90% luck. While Matt McNally, who is a former US Monopoly Champion, believes that anyone who claims Monopoly is based on luck is lying. 

Who is the right person to believe? I must admit that my money is on the opinion of W. Eric Martin as I have found there is luck and skill involved in every game that I play. I would not say that strategy/skill only amounts for 10%, though. I would be as bold as to say that it is a 50/50 combination. 

I believe that luck drives the game in a certain direction, but while there is chance at play, the player ultimately makes financial decisions that can help or deter their triumph. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Kevin Tostado’s documentary “Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story”, you check the trailer below.

Video Source: YouTube / Tostie Productions

Is Not All About Luck!

All things considered, I find it hard to believe that luck is the only thing at play when it comes to winning Monopoly, though. Personal experience has taught me that even when you roll a bad dice (and that is a dice roll that presents a less than great position on the board for you); you can use your people skills, negotiation tactics, and strategy to increase your chances of winning. Of course, there is nothing to say that you can outsmart a bad dice throw every single time; that is just impossible. 

Sometimes being unlucky with the dice means the end of the game for some players, but that is not always the case. That being said, players that are skilled and experienced in Monopoly are able to trade their way back into the lead and may even win. It is really a team effort between skill and luck!

– Winning at Monopoly Requires a Certain Amount of Strategy

What does strategy have to do with it? Well, in my opinion (and many others), it has got a lot to do with it. I have heard people say that there is no real strategy involved in Monopoly, and I can only think that they have no real experience in playing the game for a win. 

When I set my mind to win, there is plenty that I can do that can help my chances – and there is no denying that that is strategy. Monopoly involves a great deal of strategy. This is clearly evident in the various things that people can do that increase their chances of winning.

Monopoly board game. Family fun activity
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Some of these strategies include the following:

  • Get ahead as quickly as possible. Try start first so that you are not potentially paying rent in your first way around the board. 
  • Buy wisely, never impulsively. Buy railroads, but do not buy utilities. You are likely to make more money on railroads and minimal money on utilities.
  • Get right to work. Develop as much as you can as quickly as you can. 
  • Choose the colors most likely to earn you money. Buy red and orange properties as they are the most landed on spaces. 
  • Laze a while in jail, for your own safety and money-saving. Later in the game, do not try to get out of jail too quickly (it is sometimes safer in there).
  • Stick to the rules. Refuse to play house rules. Lots of people like to incorporate a few of their own rules to the game, which you don’t have to do, unless you are playing the special “house rules” version that is. If you stick strictly to the game rules, you have more chance of winning if you are ahead. 
  • Do not negotiate and trade too easily. Yup, this one is a harsh one, but if you trade easily, you might find yourself on the back foot. 
  • Use up all the houses to create a housing shortage. If you use up all the houses, your opponents will not have any houses available to earn rent from. 

As you can see, these moves or approaches to Monopoly are actual strategies that can give a player the upper hand. 

All in all

Whether or not Monopoly is a game of luck or skill is really all about how you feel about the game. How much effort do you put in? Do you leave it all up to luck, or are you willing to put the time and effort into researching winning strategies and putting them to good use? If you are willing to play a balanced game, you are playing a game just like mine – and then Monopoly is a game that involves luck and skill.