Learn How to Play Yahtzee

Yahtzee is a well-known and very popular dice game. It’s
very simple to learn and easy to play, and many people start
playing it as children for fun. It can also be used for gambling
purposes. The game is primarily based on luck as ultimately you
are reliant on what dice you roll. There’s a bit of strategy
involved though, in terms of knowing how to score rolls.

On this page we have provided a brief history of Yahtzee and
gone over the rules in detail. If you haven’t played the game
before, it’s well worth giving it a go. There are several
places you can play the game online, or you can play at home
with just five dice, some paper and a pen.

History of Yahtzee

Yahtzee shares similarities with a number of other dice
games such as Poker Dice, Cheerio, Generala, and Yap. It could
have been influenced by any one of these other games, but it’s
known to be invented by a Canadian
couple in the 1950s. This couple, whose names are not known,
used to play the game with friends aboard their yacht, and it
was originally called the Yacht Game.

The game proved to be popular among their friends, and the couple
decided they want to make some game sets to give away as gifts.
They contacted Edwin Lowe, a toy maker, and asked him to produce
some for them. Lowe liked the idea of the game, and believed it
had marketing potential. As a result he purchased the rights in
exchange for making 1,000 gift sets for the couple.

Lowe changed the name to Yahtzee and began to market the game
for sale. Initially, sales weren’t that good, something Lowe
attributed to the fact that it was hard to convey the appeal of
the game in advertisements. He started organizing Yahtzee
parties where people learned the rules and played it for
themselves. This approach was successful, and the game became
popular through word of mouth.

In 1973 Lowe sold the game to Milton Bradley, an American
board game company that’s now owned by Hasbro. Yahtzee remains
popular today, and it’s claimed that around 50 million game
sets are sold every year.

Objective & Rolling the Dice

Yahtzee has universal appeal largely because it’s a great
deal of fun. It does require some thinking, but it’s incredibly
easy to learn. The objective is simply to score the highest points
total you can. It can be played by any number of players, with
each player having 13 turns to roll the five dice.

During a turn, a player may roll the dice up to three times.
After each roll they can choose which dice to keep and which to
roll again, until all three rolls are completed. At any point,
they can keep the five dice they have and score accordingly.
Once they have entered their score on the scorecard, the dice
are passed to the next player. The game is over when all players
have had their 13 turns.

Scorecard

A Yahtzee score card is divided into two sections: an upper
section and a lower section. The upper section has six boxes for
entering a score and the lower section has seven, for a total of
thirteen. Each box is for a different category of score, and at
the end of each of their turns a player must enter a score in
one of them.

Once a score has been entered for a category, that category is
closed and cannot be scored again in that game. Because of the
way the scoring works, which we explain below, a player may be
forced at some point in the game to enter a zero into one of the
boxes. A player may also decide to enter a zero into a box for
tactical reasons.

Upper Section Scores

The six boxes in the upper section are labelled 1-6, and the
corresponding score for each one is the total of all the dice
that show that number in a roll. For example, if a player rolled
four 3s on a turn they could score 12 (4 x 3) in the 3 box. If a
player rolled three 2s, they could score 6 (3 x 2) in the 2 box.
The other dice are disregarded when entering these scores.

At the end of the game, if a player has scored a total of 63
points or more in the upper section then they are awarded a
bonus of 35 points.

Lower Section Scores

The seven boxes in the lower section are slightly more complicated.
There are specific rules for what must be rolled to score in
each of these boxes. The seven boxes are labelled as follows.

  • Three of a Kind
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Small Straight
  • Large Straight
  • Yahtzee
  • Chance

To enter a score into the three of a kind box, a player must
have at least three dice showing the same number. They can then
score a total of all five of the dice in this box. A player may
enter zero in the box if they don’t have three of a kind, but
they don’t want to score in any other box. This rule applies for all
boxes on the Yahtzee scorecard.

If a player has at least four dice showing the same number,
the sum of all five dice can be entered in the four of a kind
box. A score of 25 can be entered in the full house box if a
player has three of a kind and a pair. The score is 25
regardless of what the values of the dice are. A small straight
(four sequential dice such as 1-2-3-4) scores 30, and a large
straight (five sequential dice such as 2-3-4-5-6) scores 40
points.

Yahtzee is all five dice showing the same number, and scores
50 points. The chance box can be used to score any roll that
doesn’t fit into one of the other categories, or if a score has
already been entered into the relevant category. The score
entered in the chance box is always the sum of all five dice in
the roll.

There can be slight variations on the rules of Yahtzee, such
as awarding bonuses for more than one Yahtzee, but the basics
are always the same as we have outlined here.