For some it’s a game of luck. For others it’s a ruthless battle of wills. However you play MONOPOLY, there are tactics that can help you buy and sell your way to the top!
MONOPOLY is a divisive game. You might depend on luck or you might stick to tested formulas. However you play, there are no guarantees, and that makes MONOPOLY one of the most intriguing and infuriating board games of all time.
Luck does play a part, to the point that if the dice rolls right a new player can beat a lifetime champion. However, there are some simple strategies that can help tip the odds in your favour.
What to buy
Ken Koury, the MONOPOLY strategist, is clear. Buy the Orange set. The Oranges are most likely to be landed on for many reasons:
- Statistically, the most landed-on square is Jail because there are so many ways to get sent there (2 “Go to Jail” cards; roll doubles 3 times in a row; the Go to Jail square), and the Orange set has a high likelihood of being landed on from that position
- The “Advance to Pall Mall (or St Charles Place)” card puts you 7 spaces from Marlborough Street, and 7 is statistically the most common roll in the game
- The “Go back 3 spaces” card puts you on Vine Street 1 in 3 times
- The “Advance to the nearest utility” card puts you on the Electric Company 2 out of 3 times, which is just 1 roll away from the Oranges
The dark blue set raises controversy.Yes, you can end the game with a hotel on Mayfair for M2000 rent, if some poor unfortunate is unlucky enough to land on it. But those properties are on the “bad” side of the board. Anyone who lands on the “Go to Jail” square will automatically skip that entire stretch. The dice rolling odds are just not in favour of landing on those two properties.
On the flip-side there’s the dreaded “Advance to Mayfair” Chance card.
It’s up to you. If you trade them away, other players are likely to overpay for them, so you can make some easy money early in the game by selling them on.
The Railways are another dividing point. Ken Koury and 2015 MONOPOLY World Champion, Nicolò Falcone, think they’re a waste of space. But recognised MONOPOLY expert, Craig Way, thinks you can win with the railways alone!
There’s no doubt they can be a lucrative asset. If you own 3-4 they can bring in a lot of money even early in the game. If you have all 4, you’re looking at potential rent of M800 in a single round, and that’s with only 1 opponent. Now, to be fair, luck would have to be on your side. But even half of that isn’t bad! Add a couple more players to the game and the railways can be a source of steady income.
Managing cash flow
The early part of the game is about buying property. Even if it’s not the set you want, you’ll need every property you can get to make good trades later on.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but buy whatever you land on, even if you have to mortgage some properties to raise the funds. It’s worth doing because you can’t guarantee you’ll land on the squares you want organically. Trading is an inevitable part of the game, so maximise your trade value.
“MONOPOLY is not so much about the amount of money you have, as the opportunities you can deprive your opponents of.” Bjorn Halvard Knappskog 2009 MONOPOLY World Champion
In the early stages of the game, definitely pay to get out of jail immediately. It’s too important a time to spend it locked up. However, later in the game, jail can become a refuge. More on that below!
The sweet spot is 3 houses.This is a statistically sound choice for more than one reason:
- 3 houses is when rents start to become painful. If you’re choosing between adding a 4th house or starting to build on another set, start buying houses for the other set
- On the Orange set, you can buy 3 houses for M1,500 and get rent of M1000. In comparison, for the Green set you’ll need to spend M3000 for M1,200 rent
Jail can be the safest place
Going to jail at the beginning of the game is not useful. Pay the M50 and get out of there! It’s the time to be buying property, not settling down in a cell.
However, once people start owning sets it can be the safest place to be. In the official rules, you can still collect rent while in jail, so for your 3 turns you can be raking in the cash with no risk to your bank balance!
On the flip side, if the game is young and you need the oranges, you’re 25% more likely to land on those squares by rolling doubles to get out of jail. So the choice is yours! Pay the M50 and get back in the game, or risk watching other players snap up the prize properties while you wait for a 25% higher chance of landing on the right square.
Keep an eye on the cards
The Community Chest and Chance cards remain in the same order throughout the game, with used cards going to the bottom of the pile. There are only 16 in each deck, so it is possible to keep track of what’s coming up.
Knowing that the “Advance to Pall Mall” card could be just around the corner, might mean you buy a few houses there at just the right time. The same can be said for the “Property Maintenance” card, which might stop you from upgrading to hotels until it’s safely out of the way!
MONOPOLY has a habit of bringing out the worst in us. Genuinely. You’ve probably heard stories of, or witnessed, flipped boards and tantrums. The dice are not rigged (we promise), but it can sometimes feel that way! The thing is, emotions can be a useful tool, whether you choose to show them or not. Some say it’s best to use emotion to guilt your opponents into favourable deals during trades. However, Bjorn Halvard Knappskog, the 2009 MONOPOLY World Champion, says:
“The more emotion you show during the game, the bigger your chances are of losing… only speak if you’re asked a question. Otherwise keep quiet, stay cool and wear your best poker (MONOPOLY) face.”
You certainly don’t want to gloat when someone doesn’t notice that you’ve landed on their property. Making a noise about it will only ensure they keep a close eye on you going forward!
To summarise, MONOPOLY is a lot to do with luck, but you can tip the odds in your favour with some simple know-how. As Nicolò Falcone says:
“Sure, having some base knowledge of tactics and strategies might help you become world champion. But for the rest of us, our success at MONOPOLY, as in life, is pretty much based on two things: pure luck and minimising your time in jail!”