Want to Win at Monopoly? or, How to be a Slumlord in 10 Easy Steps

Welcome back to me. I’ve been having a semi-relaxing Christmas break in Kansas with my family. I played Monopoly with my in-laws the other night and, as always with Monopoly, had a great time. I also shellacked all of them. Come to think of it, I only really enjoy Monopoly when I’m shellacking everybody else. My victory got me to thinking about other shellackings I’ve dished out over the last couple years since I began my Monopoly renaissance, when our good friends the Cochrans invited my wife and me over to play Monopoly. We had a great time and have enjoyed many games of Monopoly since (though, in the interest of full disclosure, my dear wife has yet to catch the Monopoly flame, as I have). My victory also got me thinking about a previous entry I wrote, which I am still proud of, on my old blog. In it, I outline how you, too, can win at and enjoy the wonderful game of Monopoly. I have reproduced it below, with a few emendations based on refined strategies I have learned and developed since writing it.

* * *

Friday night I played Monopoly with some friends, and it was the most fun I’ve had in weeks. Not only did I win, I won for the first time in my life! Mind you, it was only the third time I had finished a game of Monopoly in my life!

Everybody knows that games of Monopoly are notoriously long, and as an attention span-deprived youngest child, by the time houses and hotels were typically being negotiated, I was less than marginally interested. Then I played once in high school and got shellacked by my best friend, Benj Schmidt. In high school, Benj sold European soccer figurines for profit, and he recently graduated from Kansas State with an MBA, so I chalk that loss up to fate. He has always been an efficient entrepreneur.

But just before Christmas, Jess and I played Monopoly with the Cochrans. I got creamed again – this time not quite so decisively. But I made a few keen insights that night before Christmas, and on Friday night, I cleaned up. I have decided to share my wisdom with the world, so below I have spelled out what you need to do if you want to win at Monopoly. (Some factors in Monopoly are uncontrollable, so hints that are sometimes pejoritavely termed as “cheating” are underlined.)

Want to Win at Monopoly? or, How to be a Slumlord in 10 Easy Steps

1. Be first. It is best to be the first to roll, so learn sleight of hand, and then sneak in a trick die when you are rolling to see who goes first. Or learn “Psycho Dice” (psychokinetically manipulate the dice to land with certain numbers up).

2. Doubles. Roll doubles as many times as possible (without going to jail) on your first role (see underlined portion of hint one).

3. Land on properties. Never land on Chance or Community Chest (again, see underlined portion of hint one).

4. Buy. any property you land on is fair game. Do not think to yourself, “Is this a good investment?” because it is. Any property is good property. “But the rent is only $6 on Baltic. Should I buy that too?” Yes. Because with a hotel, rent is around $500. Sounds a little better now, doesn’t it, Mr. Greedypants? Utilities and railroads are not nearly as profitable as properties, but if you land on them, buy them too. Railroads can keep you alive when you’re low on cash, but, more importantly, along with utilities, they make excellent bargaining pieces when the guy to your left won’t give up Oriental because he’s afraid you’ll build a hotel on it and take him out of the game (which you will).

5. Go broke. This is the most important rule if you want to win at Monopoly and is actually one of only two factors you can control without breaking the rules. People who “wisely” save all their cash love to laugh at the people who are “broke” already at the middle of the game. Do not let their jeers dissuade you. The trick is to come as close to mortgaging what property you do have without actually doing it. But you are not actually broke. You have simply invested your money instead of sitting on it. The same people who laughed at you when all you had was $28 will not be laughing when you offer to take Boardwalk and Atlantic Ave. from them instead of mortgaging all their other property and paying you $1000 in rent. (N.B. If you were not able to roll first or gobble up the good properties, and you go out early because you run out of money, do it with dignity. If you had tried to save and scrape by with what little you did have, you would have later just landed on Ventnor Ave. with a hotel on it and lost the game to some fat cat slumlord who got lucky their first time around.)

6. Build. Once you do get that $1000 in rent money, do not gloat about it and fan the money in front of your mockers’ faces. Immediately spend it all on houses (or hotels if you have enough dough).

7. Diversify. Since there are so few controllable factors in the game of Monopoly, you must play the odds. If you can help it, don’t sink all your money into building hotels one set of properties. If you do that, you may get lucky when somebody lands on one of them, but sometimes a whole game can pass and nobody will land on either of them. If you build one or two houses on several properties all over the board, you’ll make the same amount of money slowly bleeding everybody dry instead of taking one sucker out of the game all at once. The latter is more immediately gratifying, but also less likely.

8. Go to jail. If you get sent to jail, be thankful. Mostly, this applies only during the crucial period after all the properties have been bought and before you have tightened your crushing iron grip on the other week-kneed wannabes playing the game. The longer you’re in jail, the more money you can collect without having to spend any. Don’t pay $50 and don’t play your precious get-out-of-jail-free card. Just roll the dice, hope for anything but doubles, and let the cash flow in.

9. Unmortgage. Immediately buy as many properties back from the bank as soon as you collect them from others who go out of the game. They’re no good to you just sitting there and neither is the cool $1500 you just got from bankrupting another plebeian.

10. Win the game. From there it’s just a matter of time until that sucker who had been sitting on Pacific Ave. the whole time lands on one of your properties and you bleed him or her dry for the last time.

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5 comments so far

  1. timothycairns on

    11. Always buy the reds (they are the most landed on squares) statistics show that the most landed on square in Illinois Ave for you Americans or Trafalagar square for us Brits.

    12. Never buy utilities

    13. never buy just 2 houses – always at least 3 – the rent doubles at 3 houses!

    14. If you want to win get the orange (next to jail), red and dark blue sets – it is impossible to lose if you have those 3 monopolies.

    15. Be ruthless – negotiate and trade. I often find girls get bored with the game and will start to trade and make bad deals for them (and the game) but great deals for me. So when you hear the first girl say “I’m getting bored” wait five minutes and do a deal – you will clinch the game

    16. Do not play monopoly with me!!!!

  2. Ryan C. on

    I’m pretty sure I commented on your other blog about this, but you left out one important tip… Be the Banker. It is so easy to “sneak” a little money here and there. Just don’t get caught. (and that should all be underlined, as it falls under what most would consider cheating.)

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