Assuming you have all the basics down it may be a good idea to start learning some of the more advanced moves. There may not be a harder move to prefect than the blocking bet. Here, we will explore it in more detail.
Backgammon as a game can be deceptively simple. The basic rules can be considered as a bit complicated, yes. But once it has been explained to you then it all falls into place and you realize that it is not that hard to understand after all. But once you are already playing you realize that there is still another layer to the game that gives it its depth. And this is where you get educated again to the more advanced “rules”, the variations and the many different terms that are sometimes encountered when playing backgammon.For example, one term that is often used when playing backgammon is the beaver. For those who think that animals get involved in more expert levels of play, fear not. A beaver is a term used when a player doubles and the opponent accepts the double and, having decided that his position is good enough, he can immediately redouble while also retaining the possession of the cube.
To illustrate this term, let us say for example that the cube is in the center and there have been no doubles yet in the game. Player A then decides to double the stakes. B accepts the double and now the cube shows 2. Player B then says “beaver” and turns the cube up one more notch to 4. At this point in the game, if Player A is having second thoughts then he can decline the beaver and give up two points. If not then the game will continue with the cube at 4. Player B still owns the cube though so he can decide to redouble again at a future turn. All of these “moves” happen during Player A’s turn. Player A will now roll the dice and the game progresses.
The beaver is an optional gameplay element so you should agree with your opponent before the game if you want to incorporate it in your game.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson is also a poker columnist at www.poker.co.uk
A player places a bet in the box in front of him or her, receives two cards face up, the dealer receives one card face up, and then the sole aim of the game is to beat the dealer, or house, in achieving a score as close to 21 as possible.
As I remarked in my previous article, backgammon is incredibly similar to games like poker and chess and the doubling cube brings poker into the equation even more. I play almost exclusively poker these days at sites like www.pokerstars.co.uk but that isn’t because I like playing poker more. In fact if I were to be given a game where I had to play for nothing then I would pick backgammon more than poker. It is very difficult to play poker well when there is no money at stake and it stops becoming the same game as it was.
The doubling cube in backgammon when used is akin to raising in poker. If you raise the pot in poker and it is the first raise of the hand then the dollar amount will be quite small. If the blinds are $1-$2 then the first pot raise will be to $7 and no more. However if another player wanted to re-raise then the next pot raise would be to $24 which is more than three times the initial raise.
In backgammon the first double puts the dice on 2 and the next double takes it to 4. The second double is more than the combined effect of the previous double and playing a single game. This is exactly the same if there is another double to 8…….this double is more than all of the other moves put together. This element of the game introduces equity into the equation and this is where the best players excel because they simply estimate the equity in a position better than the other players.
Doubling in backgammon is a risky move for two reasons, firstly you are doubling the stakes of the game and secondly it hands control of the cube across to your opponent. This means that they can re-double you at their discretion providing of course that they accepted your initial double in the first place. While doubling is risky it is also essential and backgammon is what it is because of the cube.
The cube introduces a whole new and multi-layered element to the game of backgammon. I have often thought that the delicate blend of strategy and piece movement along with strategic placement combined with playing for money and odds and equity makes backgammon sort of like a blend of chess and poker.
Some of the better players are very good at assessing equity in the position but as an inferior player then how should you go about playing a stronger opponent? Well firstly I do not think that you should be offering doubles very early in the game. The position in all likelihood would be too marginal and this would immediately lead to you losing control of the cube. It would also mean that your opponent could immediately double you back in a position that was marginal without being at a disadvantage.
If your opponent is aggressive and doubles you early in the game then you must stand your ground and take the double. The only exception to this is if your position is very bad after several fortunate rolls on behalf of your opponent or unfortunate rolls on your part. So controlling the cube against strong opposition is vital as is playing a solid game. If you try to open the position up without having the necessary skill to do so then a strong player will destroy you.
It is a far better strategy to keep the game tight even if it comes at the expense of a little fluidity in your position. At least you cannot get blown away by your opponent’s power play and you stand a good chance of gaining a win going into the middle game. In short match situations then aggressive players can and will often force you to take marginal doubles. Sometimes this is an effort to get back into the game quickly if they are behind. But if you play your moves solidly then you should not fear such tactics and a merely doubled cube isn’t something to fear when you have possession of it.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson can be found playing poker at www.pokerstars.co.uk