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After writing about Yahtzee strategies last week I got the nostalgic for the old game and wanted to play it once more. I did a quick google search for some score sheets and didn"t find any that look good or printed well, so I made my own but instead of calling it Yahtzee, I called it Roll the Dice. Not the most inventive name but it works.

I"m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. -Thomas Jefferson History of Yahtzee E.S. Lowe filed Yahtzee as a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office on April 19, 1956.  The first commercial usage of the name Yahtzee was a few weeks earlier on April 3.  Lowe classified his product as a “ Poker Dice Game”.

According to Hasbro, the game was invented in 1954 by an anonymous Canadian couple, who called it “ The Yacht Game” because they played it on their yacht with their friends.  Two years later they asked toy and game entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe if he would make up some sets to be given as gifts to their friends who enjoyed the game.  Lowe saw the possibility of marketing the game and acquired the rights to the game from the couple in exchange for 1,000 gift sets.  This story is expanded by E.S. Lowe in the 1973 book ‘A Toy is Born’. According to Lowe, the game initially did not do well commercially since the rules and appeal were not easily conveyed in an advertisement.  Eventually he had the idea of organizing “ Yahtzee parties” where people could play the game and thereby gain a firsthand appreciation for it.  The idea was successful, and enthusiasts quickly popularized the game through word of mouth.

However, the overall concept of Yahtzee traces its roots to a number of traditional dice games.  Among these are the Puerto Rican game Generala and the English games of Poker Dice and Cheerio.  Most notable is the dice game named Yacht, which is an English cousin of Generala.  This game is fully explained in The Complete Book of Games by Clement Wood and Gloria Goddard (1940).  This predecessor is extremely similar to Yahtzee in both name and content.

What you Need to Play

  • A roll the dice score sheet
  • 5 dice
  • Can be played as a solitaire game or with up to 6 other players.

How to Play the Game On each turn, a player gets up to three rolls of the 5 dice.  He or she can save any dice that are wanted to complete a category and then re-roll the other dice.  After the third roll, the player must find a place to put the score (though he or she can choose to end the turn and score after one or two rolls if desired).  If the resulting combination of dice will not fit in any unused scoring category, the player must place a “ zero” in one of the unused boxes.  Categories may be filled in any order. After each player has had twelve turns and all the categories on the score sheet have been filled, the scores are totaled, and the player with the highest total wins the game.

Example Game Play A player rolls all five dice resulting with the numbers 6, 6, 6, 3, 3. They could score for a fullhouse without any further throws.  But if the full house category is already used they would set aside the three 6s and roll the remaining two dice to try and gain a good score for the sixes category.  The remaining dice are rolled again and come up as a 4 and 6.  The 6 is kept making four of a kind and the remaining die rolled as the last throw.  It is a 6 as well making a Yacht (five of a kind) worth 50 points which ends a very lucky turn.  It is common for a player to enter zero for a category and players often use the 1s for this because it is low scoring.

Highest and Lowest Score The maximum score of 375 is achieved by scoring 5×1"s (5pts), 5×2"s (10pts), 5×3"s (15pts), 5×4"s (20pts), 5×5"s (25pts), 5×6"s (30pts), Bonus for top row score equaling or exceeding 63pts (35pts), 3-of-a-kind as 5×6"s (30pts), 4-of-a-kind as 5×6"s (30pts), Full House (25pts), Small Straight (30pts), Long Straight (40pts), Yahtzee (50pts) and Chance as 5×6"s (30pts). The lowest possible score is 5.  This is achieved by scoring zero in all the top row boxes (and therefore also not getting the bonus), and scoring zero in all the bottom row boxes apart from the chance box.  The chance box of course will always have some value.  In this case a Yahtzee of 1"s is used to accumulate 5pts.  There is no rule that requires a Yahtzee to be scored in the Yahtzee box which would otherwise have incurred a 50pt score.

If you want to know more about Yahtzee strategies and the math behind it you should read Advantage Yahtzee: The Official Handbookˆž

Variations of the Game Double Cameroon is played in much the same way as Yacht but with ten dice.  At the end of a player"s turn the dice are divided into two groups of five and are used to score two categories of the player"s choice.  Five rounds are played for the ten categories, which are: categories 1 to 6 and a full house score the same as in Yacht.  Little Cameroon (a little straight) scores 21 points.  Big Cameroon (a big straight) scores 30 points.  Five of a kind (Yacht) scores 50 points.

Yahtzee is also available on GameBoy advanced.

Yahtzee strategies Yahtzee is still one of my favorite games of all time because I always won at the game.  Early in my life my grandfather once told me the secrets of Yahtzee that gave me a leading edge over all my elementary school friends.  For a while I was unbeatable, top dog in the world of Yahtzee.  One day I was stupidly bragging to another kid about my secret strategy with Yahtzee.  The next day the entire school knew about it and I no longer was top dog.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when playing Yahtzee. Don"t use 4s 5s or 6s for Yahtzee - If you get four or five of a kind in 4s 5s or 6s you should use it for top score instead of four of a kind or Yahtzee.  The extra points on the top are worth more, plus it also almost guarantees that you make your bonus on top. Don"t try for 1s or 2s - Save your 1s and 2s till the end.  If you fail at making that straight that you need instead of scratching a category you can just use 1 or 2 dice for your 1s and 2s.  In the grand scheme of things it will not make that much difference. Save your Chance - Save your Chance as long as you can, near the end of the game as you are trying to make the harder categories such as large straight or 4 of a kind it can come in handy. The large straight - A large straight is the hardest category besides Yahtzee and its only worth 10 points less, try for it early in the game.

Yahtzee"s is also known as Cheerio, Yot, Yam.  This is closely related to a popular Puerto Rican game taht is a little more sophisticated called General (or more properly Generala).  Any number may play and it also makes for a good solo game, just go for your personal best.

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