Backgammon Rewards Good Strategy!
Like many games, such as poker, Backgammon possesses elements of luck games, but also rewards strong strategic play. While certain games which favour luck, such as Roulette or Sic Bo, are difficult to develop a sound strategy for, an understanding of online Backgammon odds allows players to improve their skills and with them, the chance to win online Backgammon games.
Chief among these skills is gaining an improved understanding of probability, and how it affects the play of the game. Let's take a closer look at online Backgammon odds, and see how you can add some new skills to your arsenal to become an even better Backgammon player!
Improve your Chance to Win Online Backgammon
Like any dice game must, Backgammon has at least one foot in the 'games of chance' camp. Dice rolls exist because they are unpredictable, within a set of clearly defined parameters. This makes them a great addition to many games, from Yahtzee and Monopoly to Craps and Sic Bo.
It may be impossible to accurately predict the outcome of any particular dice roll, but with an understanding of probability it's actually fairly easy to make educated guesses on which rolls are more likely than others to occur.
Let's take a basic example to illustrate this point, and look at four different numbers it's possible to roll with two dice: 2, 12, 11 and 7.
- A two-dice total of 2 is only possible with a 1+1 (one combination)
- A two-dice total of 12 is only possible with a 6+6 (one combination)
- A two-dice total of 11 is possible with a 5+6 or a 6+5 (two combinations)
- A two-dice total of 7 is possible with a 1+6, 2+5, 3+4, 4+3, 5+2 or 6+1 (six combinations)
Online Backgammon odds can be complicated a little further than this. For example, if you require a 2 it does not mean you must roll a 1+1, as each dice has a 5-to-1 chance of rolling a 2 on its own.
Don't worry if this seems a little too tricky to keep a handle on in your head, as much of this kind of nuance will be picked up intuitively over time as you play.
Nevertheless, there are a few instances in Backgammon where an at-a-glance guide to some quick probabilities should automatically give you a better chance to win online Backgammon matches. Let's focus on a couple of common problems you'll face, and how to use online Backgammon odds to resolve those problems in the best way possible.
Landing on a Specific Piece
A common occurrence in any Backgammon game is when you must evaluate the chances of a vulnerable piece being taken (or your chances of taking a vulnerable piece). The practicalities of this decision will revolve around how many points away from the opposing piece the vulnerable piece should be.
This goes back to the discussion of probabilities above. Looking at the above example, we see that pieces 7 points away from each other have a greater chance of being landed on than pieces 11 or 12 points away. This is assuming no points are occupied between the two pieces.
How do you use this knowledge to your advantage? If you must leave a piece vulnerable, try to count the different rolls that will result in your piece being taken. If one option gives fewer opportunities for your piece to be taken, it's probably the wiser move.
Entering from the Bar
Pieces that are taken are removed to the bar – a space off the board from which they can only re-enter onto your opponent's home board. This is done by you rolling a number corresponding to a point in your opponent's home board, so obviously if any of those points are blocked you will not be able to re-enter using that point.
An extreme version of this is known as a 'blitz', when every point in the opposition home board is occupied and you must wait until a point becomes free before even trying to take a turn.
Here's a quick guide to your chances of entering from the bar when 1-5 points are blocked. Use this and other online Backgammon odds to put the pressure on your rivals!
- With 5 points blocked, your chances of successfully entering from the bar in one roll are approximately 31%
- With 4 points blocked, this goes up to around 56%
- If 3 points are blocked, your chances are closer to 75%
- Just 2 points blocked and your chances are much better at around 89%
- A single blocked point means your chances of re-entering shoot up to around 97%
Bearing Off Your Last Two Pieces
The last common problem to look at is the endgame, when you are bearing off your pieces and must decide which two pieces to leave for last.
For this we'll use a basic scoring system that adds one number for every point remaining between you and victory. For example, if you have two pieces left, both on the 6th point, you'd have 12 points remaining; two pieces remaining with one on the 6th point and one on the 3rd point would be a total of 9 points, etc.
- With 12 points remaining, your chances of bearing off both pieces in one roll are around 11%
- With 11 points remaining, it goes up to 17%
- For 10 points, it's between 17-22% (depending on exactly where the pieces are placed)
- 9 points, 28%
- 8 points, 31-39%
- 7 points, 42-53%
- 6 points, 47-75%
- 5 points, 69-86%
- 4 points, 72-94%
- 3 points or fewer, 100%
Use this information to help guide your play, and over time you will see an improvement in your chance to win online Backgammon games, whoever you play.