How to Play Backgammon Online
Backgammon is a game that generally requires quick thinking and swift decision-making. Not when you play online! While it may be hard for novices to keep up in a land-based setting, online Backgammon is beginner friendly and lets you move at your own pace.
The endgame is to be the first to clear your checkers off the board. But you won't just be jetting them off randomly. There's a method to the process, and in this feature, we'll walk you through the online backgammon basics one step at a time.
Table of Contents
Online Backgammon Basics
It’s important to take baby steps if you’re looking for how to win Backgammon online. Understanding this game involves learning the layout, the pieces involved and the game’s rules.
The gameplay is identical on free Backgammon games and real money variants, although the latter will award Backgammon payouts whenever you win. Generally, it involves two players, a game board, 15 checkers and two dice.
The backgammon board is designed with 24 long triangles of two alternating colours. It is separated down the middle, so the triangles are divided into four quadrants of 6 positions each. One side of the board (two quadrants) is your gameplay area, while the other is your opponent’s. Both sides mirror each other, so a player's 1 position is the opponent's 24 and vice-versa.
You get 15 checkers just like your opponent, and at the start of the game, checkers are arranged in the following order on the board:
- Two on your point 24 (mirror 1 for your opponent)
- Five on your point 13 (mirror 12)
- Three on your point 8 (mirror 17)
- Five on your point 6 (mirror 19)
You'll need to move all your checkers located in your opponent’s home area and the outside boards towards your home board.
Rules of Play
- To begin the game, each player rolls a die, and whoever has the higher come-out roll will go first.
- Subsequent rolls are done with two dice, and the outcome on each die is considered separately.
- You can decide to move one checker for the combined number of positions or move two different checkers. For instance, if your dice land on 4 and 6. You can move one checker 4 spaces and another 6 spaces. Otherwise, you can move a single one for the entire 10 spots.
- You can only move checkers forward (towards your home board), not backwards.
- You can only move checkers to an open point (a point with no more than one of the opponent's checkers).
- A double roll awards you four moves. This means if you roll 5 and 5, you can move 5 spaces four times.
- You can't pass up a turn. You have to move checkers after a roll unless you are limited by spaces. In that case, you should move as much as possible.
Hitting, Entering, and Bearing Off
These three terms are essential when learning how to win Backgammon online. A point with one checker is also called a blot. Landing on your opponent's blot is what we refer to as a "hit," and this will remove your opponent's checker and place it on the bar in the middle of the board.
If you have a checker on the bar, it has to "enter" the game before you can make any other moves. The next number you roll will determine where that checker will enter the board. Note that it has to be in your opponent's home area.
If you were to roll a 4, the checker would enter on the point 4 on your opponent's side. Remember opposite sides of the game board mirror each other, so this would be the point 21. If the spot isn't open, you forfeit the turn.
Finally, you can begin bearing off (clearing your pieces from the board) when you've moved all your checkers to the home board. To do this, you roll the dice and remove your board pieces according to the outcome.
How to Win Backgammon Online
Backgammon is more demanding than your regular casino games like Blackjack or Roulette. But, a bit of practice is all you need to grasp the online Backgammon basics. Essentially you're rolling dice, and whatever numbers come up is how many spots you can move any of your checkers until you reach the goal.
However, making the right move at the right time is where many players falter. You shouldn't rely on online backgammon basics alone; you'll certainly need the help of a strategy or two if you want to learn how to win Backgammon online.
Backgammon strategies are not special formulas on how to cheat online Backgammon, but they’ll certainly help to increase your winning chances.
Scoring and the Doubling Cube
Winners score between 1 -3 Backgammon points depending on how the game ends:
- You get 1 point if your opponent has begun bearing off and no longer has any checkers in your home board.
- You get 2 points if your opponent hasn’t begun bearing off their checkers- called a gammon.
- You get 3 points if your opponent hasn’t begun bearing off and still has checkers in your home board – called Backgammon.
Bets are made at the start of the game, but you can use the Doubling Cube during gameplay to “double down.” In traditional Backgammon, it’s an actual cube with sides numbered 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64. Online it could be represented either as a cube or as a marker, and you can double the stakes before rolling the dice during your turn. However, this option isn’t always available.
Learning how to win Backgammon online requires a combination of luck (dice outcomes) and skill (decision-making). This game is not as easy as other online casino games, but it's possible to make decent wins if you play with a strategy.
Although all variants are based on the classic rules, each one has a few distinct gameplay features. So you should ensure you learn all applicable rules whenever you want to try a new variant.