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What to Consider When Choosing a Backgammon Site
Backgammon is based on luck and shrewd decision-making in equal measure. If you're going to play seriously, and for money, you'll need to choose the online framework carefully in order to maximise your control and make the most of your skills.
Why Play Backgammon Online?
Stripping away the tension and gamesmanship of a face-to-face battle might remove some of the charm that comes with this ancient board game, but it also means you can focus on every move – and get the key decisions right.
The online gaming environment also offers all of the tournament and gameplay options you'd expect from big tournament games like poker. But with just one opponent to size up at a time, much lengthier, in-depth games and more opportunities to turn your luck around during each game, online backgammon has an appeal that's entirely unique.
How to Support Your Strategy
Key features that can help hone your skills and control your betting strategy are:
- Tutorials | Backgammon might be based on the luck of the dice, but there is plenty to learn about choosing your moves wisely. A good tutorial can help with this.
- Free Play | If you're unsure about your game approach, a space in which to practise at no cost is invaluable.
- Stakes | Stakes and top limits (reached when using the doubling cube) can vary dramatically. You should find a site that meets your financial restrictions and/or matches your ambition.
- Ratings | Backgammon players are usually rated according to the Elo system, which starts players at a base score of 1500 and rises/falls depending on their results, the skill of their opponents and the type of match played. A good backgammon site will show player ratings, and store yours: a crucial tool for assessing whether your opponent will be a fair match before committing.
- Session Timers | Session timers usually appear in the corner of game windows to show you the time and/or how long you've been playing. These are a useful measure of your earnings or losses during a session.
The US Backgammon Federation cites three common rule variations. It's wise to check for each of these before starting a game.
- Automatic Double | if the first roll produces two identical numbers, the stakes are automatically doubled.
- The Jacoby Rule | designed to stop players from forcing (back)gammon by preventing opponents from conceding, this rule states that gammons and backgammons don't count if neither player has proposed a double.
- Beavers | after a double, the player who takes possession of the cube can immediately double again and still hold the cube, although their opponent can still refuse the proposal.
There are two basic approaches to online backgammon, both of which have nuances to consider and explore.
- One-on-Ones | As the name implies, these are one-off matches against a single opponent. These will have individual rules, time limits and stakes.
- Tournaments | Some require an initial investment you carry through the tournament, allowing you to leave ("sit and go") whenever you please. Others have a one-off entry fee and prizes for the top players. Calculating the risk and reward of each type is central to your choice here.
If you enjoy playing backgammon online, the chances are that various types of poker will appeal too. Most poker variants have the same blend of luck and skill that makes backgammon so appealing, and they require the same steel and quick decision-making for players to succeed.
Better still, top poker sites use software systems that closely mirror the design of the backgammon lobby at Ladbrokes, for example, making it easy to find your way around the various rooms and matches on offer.
Like many other board games, the social side of backgammon can be a big addition. If you're keen to keep that element rather than maintaining focus on every move, you should seek out a backgammon site with a chat function.
Another way to amp up the excitement of online backgammon is to seek out big, one-off tournaments with a lucrative jackpot. Entry fees are usually low, and the thrill of a winner-takes-all environment is hard to beat.