We all remember that one kid at school who was a board game fanatic. The person who could tell you exactly how that horsey piece moves in chess. The one who always took a travel-sized version of Chinese checkers with him wherever he went. The guy who knew how to set up backgammon. A free advice was not usually forthcoming, though, for various reasons, mostly relating to an obsession with Dungeons and Dragons and a lack of social skills.
But if he didn’t tell you how to play this game and you’re not too clued up, don’t worry too much. One of the oldest and most popular board games in the world also has an online casino version. The bad news, though, is that casino backgammon is not the most popular game in the world, so you might have to do a bit of looking to find it. It has made an appearance at some land-based casinos, though, and there are a few sites where you can play backgammon online free. So let’s take a look at what we mean when we talk about this particular version of the game.
What is online backgammon?
As you may have gathered, backgammon as a game can be played online, both the old, classic version as well as the newer casino adaption. The difference between the traditional, old-school backgammon board that has been used since the game was first played by ancient European and Middle Eastern civilizations over 5000 years ago, and the modern casino backgammon table, is that the casino backgammon board is less than half the size, and resembles nothing so much as a traditional board cut in half.
The traditional version of the game involves a combination of chance and skill. You roll two dice, and move two pieces (or the same piece twice) according to the numbers on the dice. You can move over, but can’t land on, a space that’s occupied by more than one of your opponent’s pieces, but if there’s only one piece there, you can knock it off and send it back to the beginning. Online backgammon, at least the traditional version, works the same as the table game version.
In addition to the pedestrian rolling of the dice, you also play for a wager, which can be doubled by either player. There are three choices that you can make: to either accept the wager; accept the wager, and then double it again; or to decline to double, at which stage you lose the game. Online backgammon games obviously have this function, as it makes what could be a very boring game slightly more interesting.
The casino version, whether it’s online casino backgammon or in a land-based casino, is slightly different. Since you only have half a board, you don’t play a full game. Instead, you bet on whether your piece will jump the central bar (known, originally enough, as the Jump Bar), or if you can clear the board’s Out Bar in 2 or 3 rolls. There are interesting side bets that you can place too, including betting on doubles and the like.
Casino backgammon game odds
As in every casino game, the house has a slight advantage in this game, although it’s not as big as some other games. In casino backgammon, depending on where you start from, the house has an advantage of between 2.9 and 6.3 ppercent which isn’t great, but it’s better than some other games.
The payouts and backgammon game odds are relatively straightforward: Jump bets play from between 3 to 5 from point 1, up to 40 to 1 from point 5, while Out bets pay up to 9 to 1. With the Doubles payouts, you can get 100 to 1 for three doubles, although this is obviously not very likely.
Slow but steady wins the race, as the tortoise said, so when playing casino backgammon online, bear that in mind.
According to some commentators, the best odds are available if you bet on Jump or Out for point 4, thereby minimizing the house’s edge. The second-best option is Jump or Out for point 1, with a margin of 4.3 percent. The worst position, though, is point 5, which gives the house the biggest edge. Make your choice wisely. And remember to tip your live backgammon dealer…
If you want to play the older version of the game, it’s also pretty straightforward. Remember we mentioned that you can double your wager during the game, thus forcing either your opponent’s resignation or doubling your winnings. One of the best online backgammon games recorded for research purposes saw the initial wager rising from a smallish bet to an impressive $20 000, winning the player a mouthwatering $38 000, which is decent money in anyone’s books.
Best sites for playing backgammon
While you can undoubtedly find places where you can play internet backgammon for money, especially the traditional version beloved of the ancient Greeks, it’s becoming a little difficult to find the newer casino version. Indeed, the casino that first introduced it in 2010, O’Sheas in Las Vegas, seems to have given up on it. The best backgammon online, it would seem, is more the older version of the game than the updated version.
Nevertheless, there are some places that offer the newer version of backgammon as part of their table game package. It’s still got a bit of a cult following, so there is definitely somewhere where you can find a good backgammon game online, at least of the casino kind.
The traditional game has more fans, though, and plenty of people are willing to stake money on their game. Not many all-purpose online casinos offer the game, but if you do want to find somewhere that hosts backgammon online games, you’ll be in with some luck and able to place a bet while you roll the dice and move around the board.
Free backgammon online gaming sites
The good news is that, despite the scarcity of places where you log on and play online backgammon for real money, there are plenty of places where you can try out the game and see what people are going on about.
If you’ve never tried the game in any of its incarnations before, don’t worry. Just take a trip over to your preferred search engine and look for “free internet backgammon.” There are plenty of options for you to choose from, including instances where you can play against the computer, or else against someone else somewhere online.
The fact that the older version is better than the newer version shouldn’t deter you from trying this game, though. It’s a mixture of skill and luck that makes it akin to chess or poker. So, if you want to give free online backgammon a go, visit your favorite casino to see if they’ve got it there, and if they do, go wild!