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Probability

Backgammon is a game of skill and luck. When players are evenly matched, backgammon becomes a game of probability. The player that has a better understanding of probability will generally come out on top. As a result, in the long term, the better player will generally win. However, in the short term games can be won purely on luck.

The table in the image below shows the standard opening rolls and gives the probability of specific rolls. Understanding these numbers is crucial when planning moves to hit your opponents pieces or for returning checkers to the board. The image can be downloaded in PDF format below:

Probability download

Probability diagram

Backgammon probability.
Probability.

Know your numbers

If you want to become a better player you need to know your numbers. This is because the game has a mathematical element that is crucial to success. Refer to the table above during practice until all of the numbers have been committed to memory. At the very least you need to remember:

36: Possible rolls of two dice.

11: Rolls that contain a specific number (31%).

15: Possible rolls for the opening move.

20: Rolls that contain any two specific numbers.

If you are going to leave a blot within six points of your opponent’s checker, leave it as close as possible. A blot at six points away will be hit 47% of the time as opposed to only 31% at one point away. Apply these numbers and your game will improve as you learn the game. Use your knowledge of probability, along with strategy and tactics, to win more often at backgammon.

Further reading

Backgammon opening moves, a simple list.

Simple backgammon rules. A PDF version of the backgammon rules is available for download.

Improve your game further by exploring our Deluxe Backgammon Playing Guides.

Wikipedia – Probability.