Backgammon is a 2 player board game that comes from the world’s oldest class of games. Thanks, in great part, to the growth of online casinos, backgammon is experiencing a major increase in popularity with the gambling community. Both online backgammon and backgammon in land based casinos, are seeing more and more players enjoying this exciting game every day.
The history of backgammon goes back as far as 3000 B.C to its roots in the Royal Game of Ur. Wooden boards dating to 2600 B.C. were found in the royal tomb of the Ur al Chaldees and a cuniform tablet dated to 177 B.C., with the rules of an early form of backgammon, was also found.
The name of the game is believed to derive from the saxon words “baec” meaning “back” and “gammon” meaning “game” in about 1650. A popular myth is that the game is called backgammon because it was often found on the back side of many chess boards but this has proven to be just an old wives tale.
In 1743, the famed Edmond Hoyle wrote the first modern rules of backgammon, in his “Hoyle’s Treatise on Backgammon”. Then in the 1920’s, a still unknown gambler in New York, introduced the doubling cube, to add to the betting element of backgammon. In this period, backgammon was most often played in private clubs among the wealthy. This has slowly changed; first with the introduction of the Official Backgammon World Championships in the 1960’s organized by Prince Alexis Obelensky. Today, with the amazing growth of the internet, backgammon has caught fire with the millions of players who flock to casinos and gamble online.
Betting and Doubling Cube
The game starts when opening stakes are agreed to and the doubling cube is then set on it’s 64 side. At this point, this indicates a value of 1. At any point during the game, a player may double the initial stake on their turn before they actually roll the dice. The opponent then has the option to accept the new bet or pass and forfit the current bet. Once a double is made and accepted, only the player who took that double may make the next double. The doubling values are 2x the original bet, then 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64 times the original bet. High stakes games have proceeded beyond this point to 128x the original bet then 256x the original bet and so on but this is quite rare.
There are 3 kinds of winning games in backgammon. A “Single” game where the winner wins the value of the doubling cube or one x the bet if the doubling cube was not used. Then there is a “Gammon” or double game, where the losing player has not borne off any checkers and this is worth 2x the value of the doubling cube. Thirdly is a “Backgammon” or triple game, where the winner receives 3x the doubling cube if the losing player has not borne off any checkers and still has checkers in their outer board or on the bar.
Optional Rules of Backgammon
1. If both players roll the same number on their single die rolls to determine the starting player, the initial stake is doubled.
2. No game may be won as a gammon or a backgammon unless the cube has doubled at least once.
3. When rolling the dice, the player should roll on their right side of the board. The dice must land flat and a player must re-roll if the dice go off the board or land on an angle.
4. The turn does not end until the player has moved their checkers and picked up their dice. If a player rolls before their opponent has picked up their dice, a re-roll may be called at the discretion of their opponent.
5. An un-intentional illegal move must be corrected before the next player rolls their dice or the move will stand as is.
It should be remembered these are optional rules and are not strictly enforced. Any optional rule must be declared and agreed upon by both players prior to the start of play.
Online Backgammon rooms are setup in a similar fashion to online poker rooms with the main difference being you choose one opponent at a time from the available group of players rather than choosing a table to play at as you do in online poker rooms. The player has the option of playing for play money or real money and as always, we suggest you start out playing for play money until you get a feel for the game and the online environment. Look for an online casino that offers the best bonuses, clear and concise rules, full 24/7 support and speedy, easy payment of winnings.
After the player decides on play or real money and chooses an opponent, the two players in the game then decide on terms. These terms include if they will play a single game or a match of multiple games, if they will use a doubling cube or set the stakes only in advance of each game, game speed, certain optional rules depending on the casino and whether the game will be private or public.
As we like to tell our members, whether you choose to play online from the comfort of home, play in a land based casino or in a public tournament, remember to have fun and always bet within your limits.
I’m Jason Rockwell. When I’m not winning playing online poker, I enjoy writing about my love of the game. Thanks for visiting!