How to play Canada’s favorite dice game, Yahtzee!
The vast majority of Canada’s most popular family games – and likewise the vast majority of the games covered on this website – are played with cards. If you own a standard 52-card deck, endless fun awaits! But today, we’ll be talking about Canada’s favorite dice game. You guessed it – Yahtzee!
Popularized in the US more than 50 years ago, Yahtzee quickly spread
from one region to the next. Part of its popularity comes from its
simplicity; part from the lack of player restrictions; part from the
inimitable thrill of actually rolling a perfect Yahtzee!
Yahtzee Rules – How to Play
There are two ways you can play this game. You can go out and buy a Yahtzee set – approximately CA-$15 on Amazon – which comes with 5 dice, an 80-sheet score pad, and a dice-shaking cup. Or, if you already have 5 dice lying around and a printer, you can print your own Yahtzee score pads for free (courtesy Memory-Improvement-Tips.com) and start playing the moment you finish reading these rules.
One of the great things about Yahtzee is that any number of players
can join in. You can even play by yourself, although it’s definitely
more fun with 2+ in competition.
The object of Yahtzee is to generate the highest possible score by
rolling a variety of dice patterns and/or number groups. The player
with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
The game’s dice rolling / scoring requirements are divided into two
segments, which are likewise recorded on two separate sections of the
score pad. They are known as the Upper Section and the
Yahtzee – Upper Section
The upper section is very straight forward. It’s all about rolling specific numbers – as many of them as you can. There’s a scoring section for Ones, Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives and Sixes. Score is taken in these sections by adding up all of the dice of that number, while ignoring any dice that reflect other numbers. For example, rolling three 6s is worth 18 points.
Bonus: Players can earn a 35 point bonus by scoring at least 63 points on the Upper Section. 63 is the magic number because that’s the exact score one receives for rolling 3 of each number, 1 through 6 (as shown in the image right).
Yahtzee – Lower Section
Things get a bit more complicated in this section of the score pad. I’ll go down the line describing each of the scoreable patterns.
3 of a Kind: Three (or more) of the same number. The value of
all five dice are added together for the score.
4 of a Kind: Four (or more) of the same number. The value of
all five dice are added together for the score.
Full House: Three of the same number + 2 of the same number
(ex. 3-3-3-5-5). A Full House is worth 25 points.
Small Straight: Four numbers in sequence; 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5, or
3-4-5-6. A Small Straight is worth 30 points.
Large Straight: Five numbers in sequence; 1-2-3-4-5, or
2-3-4-5-6. A Large Straight is worth 40 points.
Chance: The collective total of all five dice, no matter what
they are. Chance is often utilized in situations where the score is
too low to take elsewhere, or no scoreable result is rolled.
Yahtzee: Five dice of the same number (ex. 2-2-2-2-2). For the
record, the odds of rolling a Yahtzee are 216 to 1. Doing so (the
first time) is worth 50 points.
Bonus Yahtzee: If a player scores a Yahztzee, then scores
another Yahtzee in the same game, it is scored as a Bonus Yahtzee.
There’s a position on the score pad supplied just for this purpose.
Each Bonus Yahtzee is worth 100 points, and earns the player one
extra play. Note that players who “scratch” their Yahtzee cannot
score in the Bonus Yahtzee column.
Playing the Game
Before beginning, every player gets a chance to roll all five dice up
to three times. The player whose cumulative total is highest goes
first. Play proceeds clockwise from there.
Players can roll for any number or pattern they wish. Scores do not
have to be recorded in any specific order. You can also change what
you’re rolling for at any time. For instance, if you roll 1-2-5-5-6,
keeping the 5-5, then roll 2-3-4-5-5, you can decide to keep the
Small Straight (2-3-4-5) and roll the extra 5 in hopes of getting a
Each player will get 3 chances to roll all or some of the dice. On
the first roll, all 5 dice are rolled. The player then selects which
dice they want to keep, if any, and rolls the rest. Rinse and repeat
for a third and final roll. The player may quit rolling prior to
taking all three rolls if they’re satisfied with the outcome.
If a play results in no scoreable result, the player must “scratch”
one of the unused scoring areas on their score sheet. For example,
you might choose to scratch the low-value 1s, or something that’s
more difficult to roll, like the Yahtzee, Large Straight or 4 of a
Kind. The choice is yours, but choose wisely!
The game continues until each player has completed all scoring
sections. Theoretically, there should be 14 plays per person.
However, if a player rolls more than 1 Yahtzee, they will earn a
bonus score of 100 points, and get to play again for each Bonus
To make the total scoring process easier, players will record their Upper Score and Lower Score separately, then add the two together at the bottom of the score pad. Be sure to add 35 Bonus points if the Upper Score total is 63+. The player with the highest score wins the game!
Care to expand your knowledge of the game? Feel free to visit any of the following links for more information about the fabulous game of Yahtzee!
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