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10 reasons why backgammon is still popular today

Last updated on June 15, 2024

It is an ancient game, but backgammon remains a popular game in modern society. There has been a resurgence in recent years with the advent of online gaming. However, there are many reasons why backgammon remains popular today. In this Deluxe Backgammon post, we take a look at 10 reasons why backgammon is still popular today.

Staying power

Backgammon has a history stretching back five thousand years. It is likely that the game originated in Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. Backgammon is a two-player game in which each player has fifteen checkers. These checkers move along twenty-four ‘points’ on the board according to the roll of two dice. The objective of the game is to move the fifteen pieces around the board and be the first to bear-off (remove them from the board). Backgammon involves a combination of strategy and luck (from rolling dice). Backgammon has been played in many countries throughout history and there are a number of variants of the game. The doubling cube was introduced in the early 20th century, which added another element to play. Any game that has survived such an incredible length of time must have some redeeming qualities.

Blend of luck and skill

Backgammon is a game that combines elements of skill and luck. There are tactics and strategies that need to be learnt and applied to gameplay. However, the dice add an element of randomness beyond the player’s control. It is possible to play the perfect game, applying the right strategies at the appropriate times and still lose due to the roll of the dice. The opposite also applies, there will be times when the dice roll in your favour and you triumph from a seemingly unwinnable position. The element of luck means that an absolute beginner has a chance to win against a seasoned professional. However, luck evens out over time and in the long run skill will be the deciding factor.

Pin Up Girls backgammon set. Why backgammon is popular.
Pin Up Girls backgammon set.

Easy to learn

Backgammon is easy to learn. It is a complex game, but the rules are relatively simple. They can be learnt within 15 minutes and the rules themselves can fit on a single A4 page. A complete novice can become comfortable with the rules in a single session consisting of a handful of games. Some of the rules can be confusing, such as compulsory moves and the number of checkers allowed on a single point. Most of these questions are covered on our Rules FAQ page.

But difficult to master

It may be possible to learn the rules of backgammon in a single session, but the complexity of the game means that it can take a lifetime to master. The game has many different elements. The opening moves need to be learnt and understood. There are certain moves that have only one acceptable play and others that have multiple alternatives. Backgammon has an array of tactics that need to be learned. Tactics are the specific actions that occur on a single roll. Tactically, a player is either trying to hit their opponent, secure a point or move a builder into play. A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term goal. There are five generally accepted strategies in backgammon; racing, priming, blitzing, holding and the back game. All of these need to be mastered as multiple strategies might need to be applied in any given game.

Exercise for the brain

Backgammon involves a lot of decision-making and mathematical calculations. Understanding basic probability is crucial in becoming a good player. As a result, your brain is constantly working during a game of backgammon. Think of this as exercise for your brain, which makes it stronger. A stronger brain is less susceptible to cognitive diseases and mental health issues. Studies have shown that games such as backgammon help people of all ages improve their cognitive functions and memory.

Thomas Lyte backgammon roll.
Thomas Lyte backgammon roll.

Fun for all ages

Backgammon is a truly multi-generational game. It can be enjoyed by school-aged children with a basic understanding of maths all the way through to the older generations. It is a great game for children to learn because it helps improve their maths, teaches them probability and introduces them to the element of luck. Backgammon is often associated with gambling, but children can be introduced to the game without the element of betting. Once learnt, backgammon becomes a game that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.


Backgammon is accessible in a number of ways. Firstly, all that is required to play is a backgammon set. The typical backgammon set consists of a board with 24 points and a bar down the centre. Each player has 15 checkers, two dice and a dice cup. A doubling cube is shared. A backgammon set is also relatively inexpensive and will last a lifetime. Although backgammon sets can cost many thousands of pounds, an entry-level set can be bought for less than £50. In the modern world, backgammon can also be played on virtually any handheld smartphone or tablet.

The thrill of winning

Backgammon is a competitive game that is addictive, stimulating and fun. The best games are always those that are hard-fought. The advantage in any given game can swing back and forth. Players are forced to pause and rethink their strategies. Hitting and re-entering makes the game more exciting and it is always satisfying to come back and win when you have had checkers on the bar. Ultimately, in a close-fought contest, it can come down to a single roll that determines the bragging rights. In almost all games, the loser will feel they have been hard done by luck and the winner will consider that victory had come from outstanding gameplay. This is all part of the psychology and charm of backgammon.

Why backgammon is popular. Manopoulos Robusto Cigar backgammon set.
Manopoulos Robusto Cigar backgammon set.

Pure entertainment

Backgammon is an entertaining game. After all, people wouldn’t have been playing backgammon for five thousand years if it was boring! It is the combination of skill and luck that creates the uncertainty surrounding each game. No one really knows who is going to win the game until the last checker is off the board.

The social aspect

Backgammon is a two-player game, so there is always someone else to talk to and interact with. However, backgammon is a very social game because there are often spectators around who are only too willing to give advice and comment on the game. There is also the option of a backgammon chouette, which allows multiple players to participate in a single game. Furthermore, backgammon is often played in social clubs and tournaments where there is the opportunity to mix with other players. Also, backgammon doesn’t always have to be about intense competition. Many people play it as a form of relaxation while connecting with close friends and family members.

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Backgammon variants at Backgammon Galore.


  1. Steve Steve

    Its the “luck” factor is what makes backgammon appealing to me. Why would I want to play with some grand master that I know will beat me every time?

  2. Kumar Kumar

    Learn the doubling cube. Then if you can find a small group to play chouette you will be hooked for a lifetime. You don’t have to play for money, but it adds to the thrill. Great backgammon website, thanks.

  3. Marta Marta

    Backgammon was incredibly popular in the 70s, you couldn’t walk into a pub without hearing the rattling of the dice. Not so now. But I think Backgammon is simply out of fashion at the moment. Things will change. In the 60s & 70s you’d find a backgammon set in most London homes. They are probably still there, just gathering dust. The wheels will turn and Backgammon will return again! It will just take some celebrity interest or the appearance in a film and all will change.

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