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Backgammon Tips and Odds of Dice Rolls

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You can actually improve your luck in backgammon by applying careful strategy. Dice games always involve some randomness, but good moves will decrease your opponent's chances of getting a lucky break - while increasing the odds of a lucky break for you!

1. Develop Your Potential.

If each checker is clustered on a single point, there's only one set of rolls that will get you what you want. If you can split up your checkers, so they're spread across several points, you can double or even triple your chances of getting the roll you want! Yes, it increases the odds of those checkers being captured - but with more pieces spread around the board, it also increases your chances for a counter-attack!

2. Learn the Odds

Remember that it's harder to roll high numbers. (For example, there's only a 1-in-18 chance of rolling an 11.) And it's doubly easy to roll numbers less than six - since they could come up on either one of the dice (besides all the combinations that add up to the number)! In a game of backgammon, you can reduce the odds of being captured by your opponents checkers if you leave your singleton checkers more than six spaces away. A seven is still pretty easy to roll - one out of every six backgammon rolls will add up to seven. But it's harder to roll an eight, and even harder to roll a nine, harder still to roll a ten...and so on.

3. Know When to Play It Safe

The game starts with just one of the six "exit points" covered, but most players will try to cover the rest. This increases the odds that any captured checkers will remain trapped in the bar (causing that player to lose his turn). If your opponent has many "exit points" covered, you should start playing cautiously. Try to avoid leaving single checkers exposed - and if you do, keep them far away from your opponent's checkers!

4. The Riskiest Strategy

If your position seems hopeless, remember that it's not. There's a strategy called the back game, which turns weaknesses into strength. Your opponent may be gloating that your checkers are trapped in his home area. But with a little bit of luck, you can group your checkers on several exit points, forming a "wall" of blocks that your opponent can't land on. This can created situations where they can only use one of their rolls, and often force them to leave one of their pieces exposed. At that point, your opponent must re-circle the board - and they'll have to get past all 15 of your checkers to do it! That's next to impossible if you spread out all your pieces. Pretty soon you can build walls on your own exit points - and your opponent will be the one who's struggling to escape!

Backgammon still involves some luck - but start playing smart, and you'll be surprised how "lucky" you are!

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