How to Win With Yahtzee Hints

By Cindy Day
Yahtzee was invented by an anonymous Canadian couple in the early 1950s and played on their yacht.

Yahtzee is a family-friendly dice game made by Milton Bradley (which is owned by Hasbro) that is based somewhat on poker hands. Notoriously addictive, it is played with five standard six-sided dice and can be played alone or in a group at a table. While much of the play within an individual game depends largely on luck, there are strategies players may employ to optimize their scores.

Try to score high points for multiples of the fours, fives and sixes.

Concentrate on the upper section of the score card at the beginning of the game. You need 63 points - the points you would get if you scored exactly three of a kind for each die face - to earn the bonus 35 points. When playing against others, scoring these bonus points is nearly always necessary for a winning turn. If you get four of a kind for 4s, 5s or 6s, use those points to fill in your score in the top section, rather than in the space for three or four of a kind in the bottom section. The extra points will allow you to use the 1s and 2s for disappointing turns and still earn the bonus 35 points.

Full houses - two of one number and three of another - are the easiest of the fixed point

Do not take risks to attempt to get a full house early in the game. In general, full houses often come spontaneously, without effort.

The best small straight to roll is a 2,3,4 and 5, as you have twice the chance to turn it into a large straight - with either a 1 or a 6.

Go for a large straight when you roll a small straight. These can be difficult to get, so take advantage of any chance you might have to get one.

Do use chances early if the alternative is to lose your chance at bonus points in the upper section.

Don't waste chances early in the game. Instead, fill in the 1s or 2s in the upper section, even if that means you will enter a zero. These are relatively easy to make up with four of another die face in a later turn.

Go for high point yahtzees. If you don't get it, the points often are useful elsewhere.

Look for opportunities to make second and third yahtzees (five of a kind). These are worth 100 points each and make up for an otherwise mediocre game.

Tip

There are online or electronic versions of Yahtzee that may appeal to you.

A wooden serving tray with raised edges can be useful as a playing surface, particularly when playing with children whose dice tend to go flying, either out of frustration or sheer enthusiasm.

Warning

If you play this game for any length of time, it will invade your dreams at night. Beware.

About the Author

Cindy Day has been writing and editing since 1977. She was an editor for "Moody Monthly" magazine, a reporter for the "South Bend Tribune" and has contributed to "Advertising Age" and "Notre Dame Magazine." Day has a Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.