Strategies, tips and stories about backgammon.

Going up in skill level

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 Sampson is a poker pro and ambassador for 888poker

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