If Monopoly wasn’t a staple of your childhood, you probably grew up in communist Russia, where owning a game fit for capitalist pigs would earn you a one-way musk ox ride to the Gulag. Staying up all night as a kid, bleary-eyed and high on Jolt Cola, Suzy-Q’s and sleeves of Pringles made for great memories around the Monopoly board.
However, now you are an adult. You’ve got a real job because you have to pay real taxes and real rent. And like real life, Monopoly seems to drone on forever, but it is not supposed to be a monotonous slog. It was designed to last less than two hours, and although there are no hard-and-fast rules for success, there are principles and concepts that will increase your chances of fiscal dominance and forever earn you the moniker of Rich Uncle Pennybags.
The time-suck problem with Monopoly is likely your fault, as the odds are good you have been playing the game wrong your entire life. Spend a few minutes perusing the rules, and you will be surprised by some lesser-known revelations:
Most importantly, don’t allow “house” rules or unsanctioned rule changes to infect the gameplay because Aunt Sally wants to “make it more fun.” These changes always add a glut of money into the Monopoly economy and soul-crushing hours of play to the game.
Besides the rules and the characteristics of gameplay, know the elements involved. There are 16 Chance and 16 Community Chest cards. Nine of those Chance cards will send you to a different place, while 10 of the Community Chest cards will give you money (three take it away). The decks should never be shuffled, so memorize them so that you can have a good idea of what might pop up next. Are you taking a ride on the Reading Railroad, or are you paying income taxes?
Pay attention to people’s cash flow. Know that, on average, a player earns about $175 per trip around the board. If you know how much money someone has, you know their bid limits, how many improvements they can afford and how many houses you should build to bankrupt them on their next move.
Know that, on average, it takes five turns to circulate around the board. Take the number of properties your opponents own collectively and divide by seven. This is the number of times you’ll be expected to pay rent. For example, if there are 13 owned properties (besides yours), you’ll land on two of them. Plan your cash reserves accordingly.
Unlike real-life jail, Monopoly jail can be a beautiful thing. Early on in the game (while there is property to be purchased and hotels to be built), don’t linger in the pokey. Pay the $50 and get back to building your empire. However, later in the game, since you can trade properties and collect rent, it is a nice place to hold out to avoid landing on any high-rent properties.
Since there is no rule that says you have to make a complete revolution around the board before snapping up properties, begin immediately. Buy, buy, buy and be damned your cash flow. The trick is to literally hold all the cards. The more properties you have in your portfolio, the less your greedy opponents will get and the better your trading position will be later on. But which ones are best?
Collectively, the orange group is landed on the most, with New York the 3rd most, Tennessee 5th and St. James Place 7th. Individually, the most frequently visited property is Illinois (red), while Kentucky and Indiana take the 9th and 10th spots. Each player has a 50% chance of landing on orange per trip around the board (whereas the average for any space is 42%).
Always grab the railroads. Always. Not only is the revenue flow from a railroad monopoly consistent over the course of the game, players have a 64% chance of landing on these cash cows. To a lesser degree, having three or more houses on magenta and light blue monopolies isn’t a bad way to survive the game either. Forget the utilities and always use the lower properties to trade for higher ones.
It is important to know that there are only 22 developable properties. Because there are only 32 houses and 12 hotels, there will eventually be a housing shortage, and you want to use that to your advantage. If you have two monopolies with four houses on each, you’ve cornered 75% of all the houses in the game.
Notice that on every side, the two groups of properties cost the same to improve but have vastly different rents. For example, it costs $50 for a house for both Baltic and Connecticut, but the one-house rent for Connecticut is double that of Baltic. And rent is $150 higher for a hotel on Connecticut than it is on Baltic. Furthermore, the overall cost to improve Connecticut to hotel status (including the initial purchase price) is $370, and a single renter will shell out $600 for a stay (a 162% profit). Compare that with Baltic’s $310 investment and $450 return (a 145% profit). Consider also that purple is last in frequency of visits.
Regardless of monopoly location (even the slums), get into three houses as quickly as possible. Not only are you removing available houses from play, but the rent rises significantly after two. For instance, rent for two houses on New York Avenue is $220, but it’s $600 for three.
Monopoly cannot be won without some cooperation from the other players. Being a pompous dillweed, undermining the decisions of other players and being a careless or inconsiderate player by resorting to obnoxious slander, verbal abuse and overall jackassery will win you few Monopoly friends. In fact, other players will likely gang up on you and hinder any or all gains you might have planned via trades. It is bad enough to lose a game of Monopoly, but it is worse if you have to lose to an asshole.
As it states in the official rules, “… become the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property.” Do so by eliminating other players without mercy or remorse. It doesn’t matter if Grandpa Clarence is on a pacemaker or that this is Little Timmy’s first time playing. Be the instrument of their imminent doom and come down on them like the lousy Baltic Avenue slumlord that you are. It’ll be fun.