What is the best strategy when playing Monopoly?

May 19, 2023

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We have all played Monopoly at least once in our lifetime, the table game that turns best friends into evil competitors and even the most generous person into merciless. Who has never fought to buy a street while playing? How many times have you been accused of stealing money from the bank?

Monopoly is one of the (if not the most) popular table games ever. In this article, I am going to explain what the best strategy is while playing it, by considering that you already know the basic rules. Many players think that the best way to win is by buying the street called “Boardwalk” (Kalverstraat in the Dutch version) , which is the most expensive one and the one that generates the highest revenues, but this is actually not the case. In order to explain why we need to look at the bigger picture.

First, we know that we use two dice to play Monopoly. This implies that the outcome with the highest probability is 7 (since most of the dice combinations give 7), followed by 6 and 8, then 5 and 9 and so on, until we get the ones with the lowest probability which is 2 and 12. We also need to take into account the “Community chest” (Algemeen fonds) and  the “Chance” (Kans) cards which often force us to move around the board and to go to specific places.

By considering these main factors and particularly thanks to the Markov chain techniques, statisticians have been able to derive which places players are most likely to pass and which ones they are less likely to go to. Apparently the most visited place is the prison, and other streets which are often visited are “Illinois avenue” (Herenstraat) and “Boardwalk”(Kalverstraat).  Among the least visited ones we can find the “Chest community” and the “Chance” spots (since you are often forced to move to other places if you land there) and “Park place” (Leidsestraat).

For those who do not remember, the sets of streets are marked by colors, and in the traditional Monopoly they are (ordered from least to most expensive): brown, light blue, pink, orange, red, yellow, green, dark blue. In terms of entries, the set of streets which generates most revenues are of course “Park place” and “Boardwalk” (the dark blue ones for the least expert players), but if you have carefully read the previous paragraph, you have probably realized where the catch is. In fact, not only are these extremely expensive but it is also very unlikely to own the combination of the two streets, which means that there are other sets which are way more useful to buy because they can guarantee a higher chance of revenues. Those sets which perform best in terms of profit/visits are the light blue, the orange and the red ones, but the performance also depends on the number of players in a game. If there are only two players, it is better to buy the blue and the orange sets, while if there are three or more players,  it is advised to buy the orange and the red ones. By paying attention to the board we can note that all these sets are located right after the prison (which as stated before is the most visited spot).

When it comes to houses and hotels, the best choice is to build three houses on as many places as possible. From an economic point of view, the money we spend to build three houses on a street is on average recovered in twenty turns, while with hotels it usually takes thirty turns. Also, there is only a limited number of houses that players can build.  Hence by purchasing three houses on as many spots as possible you automatically make sure to lower your opponent’s revenues,  which is translated in a better chance for you to win.

It is also very important to mention the biggest mistakes that players usually make during a game. It is vital not to spend all the available money at the beginning, since you are going to need it later to buy houses and hotels.  Also, you have to be ready in the unlucky case that you end up in a very expensive spot which you do not own. Many players tend to get emotionally attached to some streets, so notice that when playing Monopoly we should leave all the affections out of the game. Also note that auctions (which are often underrated) can play a very important role during a game, as a matter of fact the best deals can happen during these, or if you are a good bluffer you could make your opponent pay a street many times its value which would make him\her lose a lot of money.

In conclusion, the most important tip is to make sure to buy the light blue, the orange, and the red sets. In case there are many players, once you have generated some revenues, you can later also try to buy the green set. It is important not to focus on buying the dark blue set unless you have much money to invest.  Try to always stay focused during the game, especially during dead moments and auctions. Lastly, do not forget to always check your finances.

Hopefully you enjoyed this article, and once you understand and utilize all the advices do not be too surprised during the next game when you will outplay everyone else.

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