How to Play the Yahtzee Game

By Kathy Adams
Play Yahtzee alone or with others.
yahtzee image by dead_account from Fotolia.com

Yahtzee is a dice game that requires five dice, a dice cup and score sheets. You can play Yahtzee alone or against other players. During each turn, you roll the dice up to three times, writing down the highest point combination in one of 13 categories on the score sheet. A Yahtzee occurs when you roll five of a kind at the same time. The game ends when the score sheet is filled up.

Getting Started

Give each player a score sheet and pencil or pen.

Take turns rolling all five dice at once and adding up the dots on top of each die.

Win first position by scoring the highest total in Step 2. This person gets to roll first in the game. Game play order moves counterclockwise from the first player.

Playing the Game

Place all 5 dice in the dice cup. Shake the cup and roll the dice out onto the table.

Set to the side any dice you'd like to hold for the remainder of your turn. Re-roll the other dice and keep any additional dice you'd like to hold onto or return them to the cup. You may roll up to three times per turn.

Enter a total amount into one of the 13 boxes on the score sheet at the end of your turn. For instance, if you rolled three 5s and two 2s, you could enter your score as a Full House, as 15 in the Fives category, as 4 in the Twos section, or as 19 under Three of a Kind (Three and Four of a Kind score as net totals of all five dice). If you do not like your final combination, you still must enter a score in one of the boxes. You may enter a 0 in one of the boxes if there is no appropriate box left.

Pass the dice and cup to the player to your left when your turn is over.

Continue game play until all boxes are completed. You may not skip any turns or redo any areas on the score sheet after you've enter a point total.

Ending the game

End the game when all players have filled in all 13 boxes.

Add up the points in the upper section of your score sheet. If the total is more than 63, give yourself a 35-point bonus. Enter this combined amount in the "upper total" box on the score sheet.

Add up the total points in the lower section of your score sheet. Add 100 points for each bonus Yahtzee you've claimed. Enter this combined amount in the "lower total" box on the score sheet.

Combine the totals for the upper and lower sections of your score card. This is your final score. Enter this amount in the "combined total" box on the score sheet.

Win the game by netting a higher final score than anyone else. If playing by yourself, compete against previous games you've played.

Scoring Combinations

Score a "Yahtzee" by rolling five of a kind. Subsequent Yahtzees may be scored and marked in the "Bonus Chips" section.

Score Four of a Kind by rolling four dice with the same value during your turn. Such a combination could be marked in the Four of a Kind section, in a total for that particular number, or under Chance.

Score Three of a Kind by rolling three of the same number during your turn.

Fill in the Chance box as a "free-for-all," useful when you have filled out most of the other sections or when you don't know in which box to enter a score.

Score a Small Straight when you roll four sequential numbers out of five; for instance, when you roll a 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. A Large Straight occurs when you roll five sequential numbers.

About the Author

Kathy Adams won several investigative journalism awards from the Associated Press. Adams has ghostwritten several books and content for A-list musicians' websites. She is equally at home repurposing furniture and found objects into art as she is managing bands and community gardening efforts, running non-profit organizations and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals.