1 Apr

How to Win Yahtzee! (w/o Cheating)

This strategy for Yahtzee will help you win (almost) every game!

Winning Strategy for Yahtzee

Everyone knows using a proper strategy is the best way to win casino games like blackjack and video poker. Pairing up with an expert partner in Bridge, Cribbage or Euchre will increase your longevity in tournaments. But there’s no good strategy for Yahtzee… is there?

Of course there is! Every game I’ve ever played – at a casino or during family game night – has some type of strategy to help you win. And I’m not talking about cheating either. Sure, you could hide weighted dice up your sleeve, but that’s no respectable way to prove your superiority. Winning consistently with a real Yahtzee strategy is so much more fun!

How to Win Yahtzee (without Cheating!)

I’ve been playing Yahtzee since I was a kid. I won’t give any exact measurements, but suffice it to say, it’s been a lot of years! The more I played, and the older I got, the more ways I found to increase my odds of winning the game. The end result has been a much higher frequency of wins – so long as I’m playing against others who aren’t so adept in Yahtzee scoring strategies.

Let’s be realistic though – Yahtzee is a game dominated by chance. Sometimes those dice can be cheeky bastards! No matter how tactful a player may be, every once in a while, the dice will refuse to toss you some of the more difficult rolls; in particular the 5-figure Yahtzee or the Large Straight. Likewise, one of your opponents may get on a hot streak of rolling Yahtzees – so many that their score escalates so far into the high hundreds none can hope to compete. In circumstances such as these, we simply have to shake our heads and smile.

For all the other games though, employing the following strategies should give you a much higher chance of winning Yahtzee.

#1 Upper Section Bonus!

Make the upper section of the score pad your primary focus until you’ve secured the 35 point bonus. This is crucial in finalizing an above-average score. Roll for the high numbers first, unless three or more lower numbers come on the first roll. This gives you a shot at a high-scoring Yahtzee, while ensuring you land at least 3 of all numbers in the upper section.

If you roll four 4s, 5s or 6s, consider taking them up top – not on 4 of a Kind. This will give you leeway in taking a lower number of 1s, 2s or 3s, freeing up a box to “scratch” should things go wrong later on. Just rolling four 3s will give you the option to scratch 1s if need be. Score four 6s up top, and you can settle for just a pair of 1s, 2s and 3s!

#2 Two Yahtzees are far better than one!

If you roll a Yahtzee, don’t stop rolling for more. Remember, the first Yahtzee is worth 50 points, but the second is worth 100. The odds of rolling a Yahtzee are 4.34%, or about 1 in every 21 rolls. By the most basic logic, each player can expect one Yahtzee in every other game. That leaves plenty of wiggle room for your opponents to score one too. So if you really want to take a commanding lead, go for that extra 100 points. Probabilities may not be on your side, but variance gives you decent odds at getting lucky enough to score that second 5-figure beauty.

#3 Don’t waste chance too early

When your roll doesn’t quite pan out the way you wanted, it’s easy to lay the blame on Chance. Try not to put a score in this box too early, unless it’s a really high one. Consider all other possibilities. Can you take a pair of 1s or 2s in the upper section and try to make up for it? You never know when you’re going to need that Chance to save you from a fate far worse.

#4 Roll for Straights when you can

Don’t let yourself get stuck rolling for straights at the end. If you get a good chance to roll for them early on, take it! A roll consisting of 2-3-4-5 is the perfect time to try for the Large Straight – especially since it already guarantees the Small Straight. Always look for good opportunities with outside straight rolls.

#5 When in doubt, roll for high numbers

When you aren’t sure what to go for, roll for high numbers. A Yahtzee is worth 50 or 100 points no matter what number it comes in, but when those Yahtzees don’t pan out, the higher the total, the higher the potential score. No one wants to take 6 points on their 4 of a kind – or even worse, on Chance! Roll for what you need, but do it with high numbers when possible.

#6 How to deal with bad rolls

We all hate a roll that begets nothing, but they do happen. And when they happen, we have to deal with it in the best way possible. Taking Chance is an option, but if it’s a low roll and early in the game, you may be better off taking low or no points on the 1s or 2s in the upper section. You’ll need to make up for it later by rolling 4 of something higher, but this can be easier than scratching a big point earner later on if the Chance isn’t available.

Once Chance is gone, and the low-number uppers are taken, you may want to consider scratching your Yahtzee. After all, it’s the one combination you have the lowest odds of rolling. If that’s taken, scratch the 4 of a Kind, then the Large Straight. Not only is the Large Straight slightly easier to roll than a 4 of a Kind, it’s worth 40 points – more than any 5-dice combination the 4 of a Kind could bring you.

#7 Forget the Upper Bonus – All-out Yahtzee strategy

Don’t give up on the Upper Bonus until you feel that’s too far beyond reach. If that happens, change your Yahtzee strategy to rolling Yahtzees and Yahtzees only! Getting two Yahtzees in a single game could be enough to win it all, even if your upper score is worthless.

Learn more about Yahtzee dice game with these helpful links:

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