Yahtzee is a dice game currently produced by Hasbro Gaming. It’s one of the most popular dice games in the world because it’s easy to learn and fun to play. According to the manufacturer, it currently sells more than 50 million copies per year. You probably have this classic game in your house right now.

If you’re not familiar with how to play Yahtzee, we can help. We’ll go over what the game is, how to play and some fun facts about Yahtzee you might not know. Read on!

What Is Yahtzee?

Yahtzee is a competitive luck-based dice game for two or more players. It’s currently packaged and sold by Hasbro Gaming. The game kit comes with five dice, a shaker and a pad of scoresheets. 

The rules are easy, which makes it a fun party game that anyone can pick up quickly. That said, there is a bit of strategy involved, so it’s important to pay attention to how you score. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins. 

The History Of Yahtzee

Yahtzee is the most commercially successful dice game in history. It is based on concepts from several other games including Generala, Kniffel, Jacy-Tacy, Yacht and Poker Dice.  

According to the game manufacturer, Yahtzee was invented in 1954 by an unnamed Canadian couple. They called it The Yacht Game, because they played it to entertain friends and pass the time on their yacht.

Friends enjoyed the game and wanted sets of their own, so the couple hired a game entrepreneur named Edwin S. Lowe to produce a few sets for them to give as gifts. Lowe saw the potential commercial appeal and acquired the rights to the game from the couple in exchange for the gift sets. 

Yahtzee was brought to the commercial market in 1956.

Yahtzee: How To Play

As far as games go, Yahtzee is one of the simplest to learn and play. Here we outline the objective of the game and the basic rules.

Yahtzee Objective

The game consists of 13 rounds where players take turns rolling five dice up to three times per turn. The object of the game is to make certain combinations of numbers that are worth points. You have to be strategic with how you score your points, because once a combination of dice has been used, it can’t be used again. The player with the highest total points at the end of the 13 rounds wins. 

Yahtzee Rules & Rolls

The basic rules are: roll the dice to get the best score, decide on the combo you’re going for, write your score in one empty box on the scoresheet. Here is a breakdown of each of the three possible rolls:

Roll 1

Roll all five dice. If you like the combination of dice you got, you can stop right away and mark your score. If not, continue to Roll 2.

Roll 2

Set aside any “keepers” from your first roll, and re-roll the remaining dice. If you get the score you want this time, mark your card or proceed to Roll 3. (You can decide to re-roll all five dice if you like.)

Roll 3

This is your last roll. Roll some or all of your dice (even any original “keepers”). At the end of this roll, you must take a score or mark off a section with 0 points.

How Do You Score Points In Yahtzee?

You score points by rolling the dice and calculating the point value for each roll. The Yahtzee scoresheet consists of two sections, the upper section and the lower section. Your grand total is determined by adding the totals from each section together. It’s best to look for scoring opportunities in both sections at the same time, rather than playing one and then the other.

Upper Section Scoring

In the upper section, the aim is to roll as many of a single number as possible within a turn. You then add those numbers together to get your score (the rest of the dice don’t count). For example, if you roll three 1s within your turn, it’s worth three points. If you roll three 4s, it’s worth 12 points. If the total of the upper section equals 63 or over, you score an additional 35 bonus points toward your final total.

Lower Section Scoring

In the lower section, the scoring chances more closely resemble poker hands. You’ll recognize terms like “full house” and “straight”. This is where you can expect to score big points.

What Are The Best Dice Combinations In Yahtzee?

Yahtzee

The highest possible dice roll is five-of-a-kind, or Yahtzee. This combination of dice scores 50 points. This is the only combination of dice you can score more than once. If you get more than one Yahtzee in a game, each subsequent Yahtzee is worth 100 points.

Large Straight

The large straight consists of five numbers in sequence — either 1-2-3-4-5 or 2-3-4-5-6. This roll is worth 40 points.

Small Straight

The small straight consists of four numbers in sequence — either 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5 or 3-4-5-6. This roll is worth 30 points.

Full House

For this roll, you must get a pair of dice combined with three of a kind. For example 2-2-3-3-3 or 1-1-1-5-5. This roll is worth 25 points.

4-Of-A-Kind

With four-of-a-kind, you need to roll four of the same number within your turn. Add the total of all the dice together to get your score.

3-Of-A-Kind

Three-of-a-kind is almost the same as four-of-a-kind. The total score consists of the three matching dice and the two remaining dice. 

Yahtzee Tips & Strategy

It’s better to take some points than no points at all. Here are top Yahtzee strategy tips that will put you on your way to winning:

  • Balance your scoring between the upper and lower sections to help max out your points.
  • Shoot for high numbers when going for three- and four-of-a-kind. Remember, the score is based on the total of all the dice (not an assigned point value).
  • You have a “chance” roll where you can take the total of five dice in a turn. It’s an insurance policy, so try to avoid using it too early in the game.
  • Don’t try to be a high roller only. Know which boxes to fill in and when.

Playing Yahtzee For Money

In the at-home version of Yahtzee, there’s no wagering. It’s mostly played for fun, not real money. While the official rules don’t include betting, if you’re looking to spice up your Yahtzee games at home, it can easily be played for some cash. Of course you always want to set limits up front, but here’s how some players have turned it into a real money game:

  • Single-game high score - each game is played as a betting round and the highest score at the end of the round wins the pot.
  • Tournament style - play all six rounds on the scoring sheet and assign cash prizes for first, second and third place overall scores.
  • Money for points - each point is worth a dollar amount. At the end of the game, the difference is calculated and the loser owes the winner for the difference in points. Easiest with two players.
  • Winner takes all - play all six rounds on the scoring sheet and the player with the overall high score wins.

What Are Some Interesting Facts About Yahtzee?

  • Yahtzee wasn’t Edwin S. Lowe’s only hit game. Lowe is also credited with bringing bingo to the American market. 
  • You can play similar dice games to Yahtzee for real money, such as online craps. Several online casinos in the USA offer dice games you can play for cash.
  • Yahtzee was a dud when it first launched. It was a hard game to advertise and became much more popular once people started playing it first-hand.
  • The largest possible score without bonuses is 375. When you count bonuses, you can score more than 1,000 points in a game.
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