How to Play Backgammon

How to Play Backgammon

Backgammon is a popular game, played professionally, competitively, and for fun too. It is a board game for two, combining elements of luck and skill.

The luck aspect is the throw of the dice, in any turn, and the skill is moving the checkers on the board according to the roll's result. The goal is to be the first to clear one's own pieces from the board.

Topics Addressed

*Previously Required Knowledge

Besides throwing the dice and setting the checkers on the board, no prior knowledge is required. Since these will be performed by the computer, you are practically ready to play. Games can even be won occasionally without implementing sophisticated strategy, but surely it helps, as does experience gained over games. As for the luck part - there is little you can do about that. Read the instructions and play by them. As you understand how the game is played, namely by playing it, the rest will come more easily.

No gambling expertise is required to play Backgammon, nor to win. This guide should serve as a great first step in helping you play Backgammon, and win too. By following the rules and recommendations hereby outlined, you will be able to learn enough to play on your own.


Step One

Look at the layout of the checkers on the board and understand the object of the game - white checkers moving counter-clockwise, black checkers clockwise, getting them all into the bottom right compartment and from there, once all checkers are at that stage, removing them from the board. The winner is the one to be first to clear the board of his or her checkers.

Step Two

Choose an online Backgammon game and click on "play" or "start". You then place a bet to begin playing.

Step Three

The starting player is determined by rolling a single die. The player with the highest outcome starts.

Step Four

Voice instructions or text on the side of the screen will guide you through the necessary stages, usually involving simple actions such as clicking on the dice-roll button and on the pieces you wish to move and the place to move them to.

Moving the Checkers:

Two checkers can be moved with the outcome of the two dices' roll, or the same checker can be used to take advantage of the entire sum. Both options depend on the point on the board to which the checker is moved to be a) occupied by no more than one checker belonging to your opponent, b) the point is unoccupied at all, and c) the point is occupied by any number of the player's own checkers.

Hitting the Opponent:

A checker can be moved to a point on the board and stop there if the outcome directs it there. If at the point there is a checker of the opponent's, one checker only, the player can "hit" it. A player whose checker was hit cannot resume play on the board until the piece re-enters the game. This is done as described in the following.

Getting Back in the Game:

A player must have all checkers on the board to move in a regular fashion. Getting hit will have the piece removed from the board and require it to re-enter the game, from the very beginning, before continuing to play. While out, for as long as the player fails to re-enter, all dice rolls are forfeited. By rolling the dice to obtain a number corresponding to a free space in the first quarter of the game board, from which movement begins, introduces the piece. The point on the board must be vacant according to the three "Moving the Checkers" guidelines listed above. Two or more checkers must be reintroduced into the game separately.

Moving Off the Board:

The final stage in the game is getting the checkers off the board. This can begin only once all 15 pieces are in the final quarter section of the board. Then, a roll of dice allows pieces to get off the board, or move within the section.

Step Five

You will likely have the option of raising the bet at certain points (by operating the Doubling Cube) during the game, or responding to your opponent's raise by matching or declining.

Step Six

Winnings and remaining funds are to be cashed out. This can be done during the game or after it is over, or even following a few games.

Step Seven

It is important to cash out in an orderly manner before leaving the game, so as not to lose your earnings entirely.


  • Backgammon has several variants. Although they mostly include the same rules, it is best to read the game rules and make sure what, if any, surprises you might encounter.
  • While Backgammon boards are all identical and the games on the sites are generally similar, check out the software layout and try a preview game before actually playing. It will save you from pressing the wrong buttons inadvertently.


  • When playing for real money, especially if still a beginner, it is best to wager small sums before joining the big time rollers.

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