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Backgammon – Skill vs. Luck

Written by Eva S. Flint
01 June 2008

Any professional backgammon player will tell you that backgammon is a game of skill but what they will also tell you is that anyone can get lucky and beat anyone else. If you are getting bad rolls and your opponent is getting great rolls, it doesn’t really matter how bad your opponent is, they are a huge favourite to win. That’s why most matches are a series of games.

Skill will only prevail over the long run. In the short run, even in a three point match, a beginner could beat an expert. You take that same beginner and put them in an eleven point match against that same expert and I know where I would place my bet.

There has been talk of ways to change the rules to reduce the luck factor and make the game even more a game of skill. Phil Simborg created the “Simborg Rule” where the opening roll cannot be used to make a point (e.g. you roll 3-1, you cannot play 6/5, 8/5). This rule has been recommended for tournament play.

The main reason we don’t change the game to all skill and little luck is that where would the fun be? Part of the game is the unpredictability. If it was all skill, then a professional would always beat an amateur and the best overall player would always be the top player.

If you want to play a game of strictly skill, I suggest you take up chess. Otherwise, you have to accept that sometimes you are going to lose to a player of lesser calibre and if you bet on the game, you’re going to lose money. But hey, that game could set you up for a lot of rematches where you are still the favourite to win.

Recently written and posted Backgammon Articles:

Some Information and Tips on Backgammon Sets
Backgammon sets are as varied as the players who own them. In many cases, the styles of sets for playing backgammon reflect the personal style of the owner. Here’s some general information about backgammon playing sets and where to find them….
Written by John Adler 01 September 2008.

An Overview of Gambling in Backgammon
The possibility of gambling in backgammon is built into the game via the doubling cube. This doesn’t mean that you have to wager money in backgammon – simply don’t use the doubling cube for a gambling-free game….
Written by Benjamin Sami 31 August 2008.

Some Information on the Backgammon Board
The game board for playing backgammon is set up in a very specific way. In this article, we’ll present a brief overview of how to set up a backgammon board….
Written by Longlake James 31 August 2008.

Online Backgammon Strategy vs. “Live” Backgammon” Strategy
Playing strategic online backgammon involves a few adjustments from playing live games. This article discusses how to develop a strategy for playing online backgammon….
Written by Bob Ross 01 September 2008.

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