The backgammon operators listed below have proved to offer good quality online backgammon games running in a trusted environment with lots off action. The recommended sites offer backgammon games 24/7 bringing players from across the world together under one roof. Players should find action all around the clock making it easier for backgammon players to sharpen their skills and practice. Online backgammon is a great way to spend some leisure time with this exiting dice game.
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Backgammon in general
To those who play backgammon at home or backgammon online on an occasional basis it may seem that there is no rhyme or reason to each individual game as it develops from the starting position. This is far from the truth of the matter. In the same way that different opening moves and strategies in chess lead to very different types of game, so the same is true of backgammon.
There is the occasional backgammon game that is either a hybrid of some of the above or doesn’t fit into any of the categories but the eight categories account for 98% of all games. Many games progress from one type to another, for example, a back game often evolves into a scramble, or a blitz may evolve into a low anchor or high anchor game. In addition to understanding the eight basic types an expert player must also have a good knowledge of the resultant end games.
It is important not only to understand how to steer a game into one of these particular types but also, having achieved this, to know how to play each positional type and the doubling strategies associated with it. This last point is particularly key as the understanding of the correct doubling strategies will net you far more points than the understanding of how to move the men.
Running game is by far the easiest game type and the easiest example of this is where both sides start by rolling 65 twice and run both their back checkers out to their mid-points. After this there will be no further contact between the two armies and the winner will be the side that rolls the highest numbers on the dice, a pure race.
A high anchor game is one where you have moved your back checkers at least as far as your mid-point whilst your opponent still holds either your 4pt, 5pt or bar point.
Mutual Holding Game
A mutual holding game is one where both sides have a high anchor (a high anchor is one of three points, your opponent’s 4pt, 5pt or bar point). This position occurs after the sequence: Red 43: 24/20, 13/10; Black 66: 24/18(2), 13/7(2); Red 43: 24/20, 13/10.
A low anchor game can occur in many different ways but is characterized by one player holding his opponent’s 1,2 or 3 point whilst the opponent has escaped his back checkers.
The blitz is the most volatile of all the game types. A blitz is characterized by one player desperately trying to get an anchor in his opponent’s home board whilst his opponent does everything he can to prevent it.
Prime vs. Prime
Prime against prime are characterized by both players having one or more of his opponent’s checkers trapped behind a blockade of 4, 5 or 6 points. Prime vs. prime games require finely judgment and are amongst the most difficult of all game types to play. In a blitz, once you have embarked upon it, most of the moves are clear; in a prime v prime each individual move will require much more thought.
Back game is when you hold two or more points in your opponent’s home board, usually as a result of lots of blots being hit. Now an excellent piece of advice: avoid back games at all costs. When they go well they are fantastic, but if you lose, then you are likely to lose either a gammon or backgammon.
This type of position normally occurs after one player has been hit whilst bearing off and is then trying to ‘scramble’ the hit checker back to the safety of his home board.
How Backgammon developed to Online Backgammon
Backgammon before it evolved to online backgammon is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia in the Persian Empire or the present day Iran, Iraq, and Syria around 3,000 B.C. and it is the oldest known recorded game in history. Archaeological digs continue to turn up board games very similar to today’s fast-paced and challenging game of backgammon. The game was typically played on surfaces such as wood, using stones as markers, and dice made from bones, stones, wood or pottery.
The travels of this gaming idea showed up in both ancient India culture as well as Egyptian culture where a variation on the game called “Senat” was popular among both Egyptian aristocracy and the slave population. By the time backgammon reached early Greece, the Greeks decided to lay claim to inventing the game. Sophocles attributed the game to Palamedes who apparently developed it to while away the time during the siege of Troy. Herodatus, on the other hand, claims the Lydians invented it but it was only an adoption of their culture from earlier civilizations.
In Rome the game was called ludus duodecium scriptorum, “the twelve line game”, or “tabular”. Boards excavated from the ruins of Pompeii are identical in form to the modern version. But the Romans used three dice. Although it was referred to as the Game of Emperors, backgammon was clearly as popular among the lower classes as among the patricians.
From Greece and Rome, backgammon games grew in popularity finding its way finally to Persia where it was known as “Takhteh Nard” which, roughly translated, means “Battle on Wood” and the three dice method was reduced to two by the Persian players. Then the game concept traveled into the Anglo Saxon culture by the early 7th century and, during the medieval Crusades, the game once again gained influence as a gaming activity for soldiers and traders under the name “Tables” or “Tabula”. The Church disapproved of the game and periodically attempted to outlaw it.
One of the last such attempts was by Cardinal Wolsey of the court of Henry VIII, who ordered all boards burned in 1526, resulting in a cottage industry for English craftsman of turning out disguised boards in the now familiar book form which can be folded in half with the stones inside and stored in a bookshelf. This folded design is the standard way in which backgammon sets are made to this day. Known to medieval culture as “Bac gamen” or “back game”, the name backgammon finally found its way into the English language in the mid 1600’s and is still the name used today. The actual term “backgammon” is said to have been derived from either the Saxon “baec” (back) “gamen” (game) or the Welsh “bac” or “bach” (little) “gammon” or “cammaun” (battle) with the first being more likely. In 1743 Edmund Hoyle, the famous writer and gamesman, published a work on backgammon in which he outlined the rules and documented the game’s history.
While backgammon fell from popularity during the Victorian age, it returned with a vengeance in America in the early part of the 20th century and this is when the doubling cube finally appeared. The doubling cube was believed to be introduced in New York in the 1920’s by some unknown gambler. The doubling cube demanded new levels of strategy and skill, sped up the game and added an extra element of risk.
From there, tournament play was organized among backgammon players and strategy was enhanced and studied. The game was mostly limited to the upper class in private clubs although several introductory backgammon publications burst onto the scene. The backgammon rules were modified in 1931 in the U.S. to what generally governs the game today.
Backgammon Online Today
Today, backgammon continues to hold its spell over all lovers of gaming. With the invention of the computer and subsequently, the Internet, people from all over the world can now meet and play with each other from the comfort of their homes at any of the online backgammon sites we list in our pages.
Backgammon Vs Poker
On the surface, the games appear to have nothing in common. Backgammon is played with dice; poker with cards. Backgammon is normally played against a lone opponent; poker is thought of as a multiple-player game. An involved backgammon game can take more than 30 minutes, while even a complex poker hand (if not involving Jim Meehan) is over in less than five minutes, and many hands take less than a minute to complete.
When you play poker, the choices are to check, bet, fold, or raise. If the opening backgammon roll is 4-3, there is a choice of at least 12 different moves (although many of them are poor alternatives to bringing two checkers down from my 12-point in an effort to start making points in my home board, or my aggressive preference of bringing one checker down with the 3 and starting my opponent’s 5-point with the 4).
Poker chips are easy to shuffle, while not even Evelyn Ng can shuffle backgammon checkers. However, looking more closely at the two skill games, I believe we can make a case that they are similar in many ways. Both require skill, but are influenced by luck. Both are great gambling games for that reason. Both adapt beautifully to cash games and both poker tournament play and backgammon tournament play are something players enjoy as there can be won big money for low buy in fees. Players can make raises in both games (by betting in poker and by using the doubling cube in backgammon). Learning the rules and mechanics of the games is relatively easy, but it takes long hours of study and practice to play each game at an expert level. Backgammon and poker are both games that we enjoy playing face to face. Each game can also be played online for fun or money at numerous websites. Both games lend themselves nicely to mouse-clicking gamers.
In poker online, when a player raises an illegal amount it is up to the floor person to make a ruling. In backgammon, if a player makes an illegal move, for example I move nine pips after rolling a 4-3, either my opponent or I can correct the situation, but it must be done before he rolls his dice. In both games, skillful players incorporate mathematical probability into decision-making. For example, in poker, we might calculate the probability of successfully drawing to a flush, and then determine if we have the correct pot or implied odds to make the call. In backgammon, when faced with accepting a double, we might calculate the probability of winning the game, and then compare the bottom line outcomes when accepting and declining the cube.
For instance, if I am offered the doubling cube in a running game (one in which all of my pieces has advanced beyond my opponent’s pieces), whether I accept or reject an offer to double will be based on my chances of winning. In general, I will accept the cube if I have a greater than 25 percent chance of winning the game. Hmm, that seems pretty low, so let’s do the math based on this situation occurring 200 times. The first 100 times, I will decline and lose one unit. That’s an easy calculation. I will lose 100 units. For the second 100 offers I will accept each time. I will lose 75 percent of the time, and at the doubled value of two units, thus 75 x 2 = 150 units of loss. But, I will win 25 percent of the time, and at the doubled value of two units, thus 25 x 2 = 50 units of loss. My net loss, by accepting the cube, will be 150-50=100.
So, we can confirm that 25 percent is the break-even point for accepting a cube. But, wait. Haven’t I forgotten something? Yes, once I “own” the cube, I have the ability to offer it back to my opponent. For example, after accepting said cube in a running game, my opponent may throw low numbers while I am firing boxcars and double fives.
I will leapfrog ahead, and possibly own an 80-to-20 advantage (an estimated win probability that I would calculate based on how many pips I am ahead, and how many rolls might remain). Prior to taking my roll, I would offer the cube back to my opponent (staying with our example) at 4. He should decline, having less than a 25 percent chance to win. However, he might err and accept the cube. This brings another poker-backgammon similarity into the mix. Making decisions that will put your opponent to the test (usually by betting or raising in poker) is what good players do.
So, in backgammon, if I fail to offer the cube with an 80-to-20 edge, and then roll a 2-1, I would have missed a great opportunity. I should have forced my opponent to fold, but instead, I gave him a freeroll of the dice. In poker, if I check a leading hand, and give my opponent a free card to his flush draw, I make a similar mistake. Making decisions that provide opportunities for your opponents to make errors is the key to winning in backgammon and in poker.
In backgammon, we are often faced with the dilemma of rolling a number that forces us to expose one or more blots, and we have a choice of where to expose them. The probability of getting hit and being sent to the bar comes into play. If getting hit is detrimental at that point in the game (some times you want to be hit for timing purposes), we calculate our opponent’s probability of hitting our blot.
For example, of the 36 different outcomes (we will stipulate that 4-1 and 1-4 on the two dice are considered to be different outcomes) my opponent has six ways to hit a blot that is seven unattended pips away (6-1, 1-6, 5-2, 2-5, 4-3, 3-4). He has a whopping 17 ways to hit a blot that is six unblocked pips away (6-1, 1-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-5, 5-6, 6-6, 2-2, 3-3, 4-2, 2-4, 5-1, 1-5). Realizing how many shots one has to hit direct (six pips or less) and indirect (seven or more pips removed) blots is rote to a seasoned backgammon player, in the same way that poker players commit flush draw probabilities to memory.
In no-limit poker, ownership of a big stack is power. A player’s decisions are often made based on his stack size in relation to his opponent’s stack. In backgammon, possession of the cube is power. I can use the cube to force my opponent to make a tough decision whether to resign at one unit, or continue to contest a game where he is at a decided disadvantage, and for double stakes. The cube is also my protector. Should I fall well behind in a game, I will be able to play to conclusion, and possibly rally back.
A good poker player calculates risk vs. reward on an ongoing basis during a day’s play. When playing backgammon, I will take more risk when trailing by a wide margin in a match. My cube and checker movement decisions are often based on the score in the match. For example, if I trail 12-4 in a 15-point match against a good player, I will be looking to take any marginal cube at 2 to give myself a chance to win a 4-point, or even an 8-point game (possible if I make an aggressive double offering to 4, and then gammon my opponent).
Knowing your opponents comes into play in both games. In poker, reading an opponent’s motives and tendencies is paramount. In backgammon, being aware that your opponent has a propensity to take the cube in dangerous situations may allow you an extra roll before doubling. Conversely, knowing your opponent will typically fold to an offer more readily than he should allows you to double him out quickly, thus saving you from the risk of unlucky dice on the next roll.
I believe good online poker and backgammon online players stay at least one move ahead of their intermediate counterparts. In backgammon, we foresee the development of a back game (defense driven), or a running game (offense minded), and make our moves proactively.
Each online backgammon player begins with 15 pieces of a different color (also referred to as men or checkers). The men are placed on designated spaces of a 24-position backgammon board. These positions are triangular and called points. For clarification sake, we can number the points from 1 to 24. We’ll designate the number 1 through 6 positions to be your opponent’s 6-point home board.
You start with two men on his 1-point, and they must travel 24 points to bear off (the process of removing one’s checkers from the board after all of a player’s checkers are in his own 6-point home board). In addition, using the designated numbering arrangement, you would start with five checkers on your 12-point, three checkers on your 17-point, and five checkers on your 19-point.
The pieces are borne off in accordance with the numbers rolled on the dice. Once a checker is taken off, it does not reenter the same game. Players compete to bear off all their checkers before their opponent can do so.
Looking at the Doubling Cube From All Sides
A typical doubling cube has six sides, and is engraved with these numbers: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. A game begins at a value of one betting unit with “the cube” placed in neutral possession (the 64 on top designates one unit at the start of a game). During a game, if either player believes it is advantageous to play for double the stakes, before rolling the dice when it is his turn, that player may offer the cube to his opponent at twice the current stakes. So, the first offer of each game would be from one unit to two units.
The doubling cube would be picked up by the doubler, and placed on the opponent’s right side board with the numeral 2 facing up to indicate the choice to the opponent: either play this game for double the starting value, or forfeit (resign) at a one-unit loss. Should the opponent accept the challenge, he “takes” and the game value moves to two units.
The right to double again (redouble) always belongs exclusively to the player who last accepted the doubling cube. There is no limit to the number of doubles that can take place during a game. For example, the value of a game may rise to 128, 256, and higher (with values above 64 being tracked mentally or on paper).
Playing an Online Backgammon Game
At the start of a backgammon online game, each player rolls one die onto his right side of the board. (The playing surface is divided into two sides and four quadrants.) The player who rolls the higher number (ties are do-overs) makes the first move, using both numbers on the dice as the opening roll. Subsequently, players alternate turns and roll two dice from a dice cup to determine their move. Both dice must always come to a stop flat on the board (not cocked or resting on top of a checker). A reroll of the dice is required if either or both is cocked or goes off the board.
A legal move must be made in accordance with the dice. For example, if I roll a 5 and a 3 (5-3), I must move one piece three positions (or pips), then the same piece or another piece five positions. I can also move one piece five positions, then the same piece or another piece three positions. While moving the same checker five then three versus moving three then five may seem like the same movement of eight positions, there may be a difference. Since a player cannot land a piece on a point occupied by two or more of his opponent’s men, it is often necessary to move the eight positions in a specific order.
Which checker or checkers should a player use to complete his 5-3 move? That decision is typically based upon the shooter’s relative checker position in that specific game, the future well-being for his pieces, which points (if any) contain an opponent’s blot (a piece resting alone on a point, thus vulnerable to be hit), and which points cannot be landed upon due to an opponent having more than one piece on those points.
I mentioned hitting a blot, but didn’t elaborate. What happens in that case? The lone piece (the blot) is picked up and removed from the board. The checker is placed on the middle ridge that separates the two sides of the playing board. This ridge is known as the bar, and is a holding area. A player whose blot is hit must reenter from the bar onto an available space (a point containing no more than one opponent piece) within his opponent’s home board.
Upon being hit, the player must reenter prior to making any other move. For example, if my opponent has made the 6-point, the 3-point, and the 1-point in his home board, I can enter with a roll of 2, 4, or 5 on either of my dice. I use the other number on the dice to complete my move with the same checker or a different one. If a player cannot make a legal move with one or both of his dice (all points to which he might otherwise move are occupied by two or more opponent checkers), he forfeits that portion of his turn. For example, let’s say I have borne off 13 men, and I now occupy my opponent’s 5-point with both remaining checkers. If I roll 6-4, I can bear off only one man (using the 6 on one die), assuming my opponent has two or more pieces on his 1-point. My 4 on the second die is blocked; thus, I forfeit that part of the move.
Scoring a Game
The winner of a game gets one point if the cube was never turned, or the cube was offered and declined. Otherwise, the winner gets the value of the cube. However, there are two circumstances in which the value of the game is doubled or tripled. They are when one player gammons another, and when one player backgammons another:
Gammon occurs when one player bears off all his pieces before the opponent bears off any. This is scored as a double game (the winner gets twice the value of the doubling cube).
Backgammon occurs when one player bears off all his pieces before the opponent bears off any and the opponent still has at least one piece in the winner’s inner (or home) board. In the United States, we value this occurrence as a triple game (the winner gets three times the value of the doubling cube). Some areas of the world do not recognize triple games.