On This Page

Guide to Playing Yahtzee

Yahtzee is a popular table dice game many people grow up playing with their family and friends.

The game is simple to learn. You can learn the basic rules for Yahtzee as you play. But we suggest reading this game guide first so that you can hit the ground running and be competitive from the start.

In our Yahtzee game guide, we show you everything you need to know so that you not only learn how to play Yahtzee, but also excel at the game.

We cover Yahtzee rules, scoring, the best strategies you can use, and some options for gambling on Yahtzee.

How to Play Yahtzee

Yahtzee basics

The beauty behind Yahtzee is its simplicity. Let’s start with an overview of how to play the game.

Gameplay revolves around five dice and a scoresheet. The scoresheet shows you the types of hands you want to make when you roll the dice. You get points for every hand you make.

There are 13 rounds in Yahtzee. During each round, you roll the dice. Afterwards, you decide which dice to keep and which dice to discard.

You get to roll up to three times during your turn make the best score possible. Once you’re finished, you’ll enter a score (either a total, predetermined amount, or zero).

Then you pass the dice to the next person. This continues until you complete all 13 rounds.

Whoever has the highest score after 13 rounds wins the game of Yahtzee.

How to Start a Game of Yahtzee

Here is what you need to play Yahtzee.

  • 1+ players
  • 5 six-sided dice
  • Pen and scorecard for each player

Once everyone is seated, each player will take a turn to roll all five dice. The person who has the highest total will go first every round. The action will continue clockwise from there.

How the Scoring Works in Yahtzee

Scoring in Yahtzee

Yahtzee scoring can be complicated at first.

It can take a while to get the hand of it, but once you play a few rounds it becomes pretty straightforward.

The scoring sheet is divided into two sections.

  • Upper section
  • Lower section

Each section has a list of hands or combinations you want to make.

How to Score the Upper Section in Yahtzee

The upper section is divided into six possible hands.

  • Aces
  • Twos
  • Threes
  • Fours
  • Fives
  • Sixes

Each of these hands is scored based on the number of dice showing that specific number.

For instance, say you roll the dice and get the following numbers: 5 5 5 3 4. You keep the 5s and reroll the 3 and the 4.

On the second roll, let’s say you get a 5 and a 2. You keep the 5 and reroll the 2.

On your third and final roll, you get a 4.

This leaves you with 5 5 5 5 4.

If you decide to add your score to the upper section, you will add up all the 5s you rolled during your turn. You got four 5s, so you would put a score of 20 in the “Fives” box.

However, you want to be careful. Once you’ve filled out one of the boxes, you can’t fill it out again.

For example, if on your next turn you land a 5 5 5 3 2, you can’t add another score to your “Fives” box. You will have to add a score to your “Threes” or “Twos” box instead. Or you can add a score to a box in the lower section, or take a zero somewhere.

Top Tip
If you score more than 63 points in the upper section, you will receive a 35 point bonus. Keep this in mind when devising your Yahtzee strategies.

How to Score the Lower Section in Yahtzee

The lower section is divided into seven possible hands.

  • Three of a Kind (Add Total)
  • Four of a Kind (Add Total)
  • Full House (25 Points)
  • Small Straight (30 Points)
  • Large Straight (40 Points)
  • Yahtzee (50 Points)
  • Chance (Add Total)

Here is what each combination looks like and how to score it.

Three of a Kind

A three of a kind is exactly what it sounds like – it is (at least) three dice of the same number.

Yahtzee scoring rules say to add up the value of all your dice and add it to your three-of-a-kind box. For instance, if you rolled 4 4 4 3 6, your point total would be 21.

Four of a Kind

Four of a kind is like three of a kind, except you have four dice of the same number instead of three. Whenever you score four of the same dice, you can mark off four of a kind on your scorecard.

Scoring a four of a kind in Yahtzee is also the same as a three of a kind – you add up the value of all your dice.

For example, if you rolled a 3 3 3 3 5, your point total would be 17.

Full House

If you’re familiar with hand rankings for Texas Hold’em, you know what a full house is. The same concept applies to Yahtzee.

To score a full house, you need to get two numbers from five dice. You need a three of a kind of one number and a pair of another number.

An example of a full house in Yahtzee is if you rolled a 4 4 4 2 2. This would count as a full house.

Yahtzee rules say you give every full house 25 points, regardless of the value of the dice.

Small Straight

Straights are another concept you can find in both poker and Yahtzee. However, in Yahtzee, there are two types of straights – small straights and large straights.

To score a small straight, you need to roll four dice in sequential order. For example, 1-2-3-4 would be considered a small straight.

If you score a small straight, you’ll earn 30 points.

Large Straight

The large straight needs five dice in sequential order.

This means that you can only get a large straight from hitting 1-2-3-4-5 or 2-3-4-5-6.

The rules for Yahtzee make a large straight worth 40 points.

Yahtzee

This is the ultimate combination that you can get when playing Yahtzee. To score a Yahtzee, you’ll need to roll five of a kind.

If you hit a Yahtzee, you’ll score 50 points!

Even better yet, Yahtzee game rules say that you can hit a Yahtzee multiple times.

If you look at the bottom of your scoresheet, you’ll notice a row with smaller spaces called “Yahtzee Bonus.” Each Yahtzee you roll after your initial one is worth 100 points.

Chance

When it comes to Yahtzee strategy, your Chance is one of the most important rolls in the game.

You can use your Chance whenever you want. However, you only get one Chance roll, so use it wisely.

With a Chance roll, you’re simply adding up the five dice that you have at the end of your roll.

You can use your Chance roll even if you have other combinations on the table, like a small straight.

That wraps it up for our instructions for Yahtzee. You now know how to play and score the game. You’re ready to play Yahtzee by yourself or against a computer or your family and friends.

But if you plan to play against other people, you might want to learn some strategy for playing Yahtzee to give yourself the biggest edge you can. We cover some Yahtzee strategies in the next section.

Yahtzee Strategy

Strategy is a key component to winning at Yahtzee. If you don’t use your rolls in the best possible way, you will miss out on higher scores.

A lot of the strategy comes down to knowing what to put down on your sheet, what dice to hold, and when to take your chances.

With that in mind, let’s dive into some Yahtzee strategy so that you can have the edge in your next game.

Sacrifice Lower Section Points for the 35-Point Bonus

Basic Yahtzee strategy

Many beginner players make the mistake of using each roll in a way that garners them the maximum number of points possible.

While this approach can get you a lot of points for a specific hand, it can actually hurt your chances of winning.

For instance, let’s say that you roll 5 5 5 5 4.

If you marked this as a four-of-a-kind roll, then you would end up with a point total of 24. Meanwhile, if you marked this as a “Fives” roll, then you would end up with 20 points.

Therefore, you should score this as a four of a kind, right?

No, you shouldn’t. This isn’t the best strategy for winning at Yahtzee. You’ll want to score this in your “Fives” box instead.

As we pointed out earlier, you will get a 35-point bonus if you hit the 63-point marker in the upper section.

Therefore, scoring 20 points in the “Fives” space will give you a huge boost towards hitting that 63-point marker.

Yes, the objective of Yahtzee is to score as many points as possible.

However, if you notice that you have a real shot at getting the 35-point bonus, it won’t hurt to sacrifice a few points in the lower section so that you can hit the 63-point marker.

Adjust Your Yahtzee Strategy on the Fly

Multiple ways to score in Yahtzee

One of the best parts about Yahtzee is that you can fill out multiple spots with the same hand.

Say you roll a 3 3 3 4 5 on your first roll.

Right away, you might say that you can score a three of a kind with this hand. However, you can also add up the 3s and fill out the “Threes” spot on the scoresheet.

If you want to score even higher, you can hold onto the 4, 5, and one of the 3s. Then you can roll the other two 3s to try to make either a small or large straight.

As you can see, with one hand, there are multiple different ways to score in Yahtzee. Keep this in mind as you play. You don’t have to get locked in on chasing a specific combination.

You should be prepared to adjust your Yahtzee strategy on the fly based on what you’re rolling.

Take the Chance

Yahtzee Chance strategy

You also need to hone your Chance strategy for Yahtzee. Many amateur players will fill out this part of the scoresheet as soon as possible.

However, the Chance option becomes more valuable the longer you play.

As you start to fill out more spaces on your Yahtzee scoresheet, the other remaining spots will become more difficult to fill out.

If you don’t get the rolls you need, this could lead to you scoring smaller than you want. However, the Chance option is the perfect way to bail you out of a tough spot.

You can use the Chance option to score big numbers, but this option can be better used to prevent zeros from popping up on your scoresheet.

The reason being is your opponents will probably be in the same situation as you. They’ll have boxes they need to fill out, and they don’t want to put zeros there.

You want to know how to win at Yahtzee? Try to keep your Chance space vacant for as long as possible until you really need it. It will give you a leg up over your competition.

You’ll need it if you plan to play Yahtzee for money.

How to Bet on Yahtzee for Money

Since this is a traditional board game, there are no “official” rules for betting on Yahtzee.

However, you can easily come up with different ways to bet among your peers. Here are some of our suggestions.

Bet on the Winner

Perhaps the easiest way to bet on Yahtzee is to bet on the winner. Here’s what that can look like.

Each player will pay a certain amount to play. This creates a pot of money that will later be distributed to the winners. Players are then paid out based on what place they get.

For example, say 10 players are playing Yahtzee. Each player puts in $50 to play.

First place is then paid $250 while second and third place are paid $150 and $100 respectively.

This is just a hypothetical situation on how you could bet on Yahtzee for money. You can determine how many people get paid out and the amounts yourself.

Assign a Dollar Value to the Points

Gambling on Yahtzee

Another way you can bet on Yahtzee is to bet on the point difference between you and the winner.

Assign a dollar value to each point you can win in Yahtzee. Then, the losers pay the winner based on the point differential between them and the winner.

You can make the dollar value anything you want. You can make it one dollar for every point or a quarter for every point. The choice is yours.

Here’s an example of how this would play out.

Say you make the dollar value one dollar for each point. Five players are playing. At the end of all 13 rounds, the winner has 200 points while you have 170.

Since the dollar value is one dollar for every point, you would pay the winner $30.

One caveat to consider for this type of betting is that only one player makes money at the end of the game; the winner.

However, if you do win while playing Yahtzee this way, you’ll win big since you’re being paid by every player.

Cash Pot with Penalty Bets

Another interesting type of Yahtzee betting that we’ve come across is a cash pot with penalty bets.

Essentially, each player will buy in and then also place additional bets based on certain scenarios that happen within the game.

For example, if a player scores a 0 on the scoresheet, they might need to add an extra five dollars to the point.

You can even spice things up and make it where if a player scores the Upper Section bonus, they need to add to the pot.

This can lead to some interesting games.

How Should You Bet on Yahtzee?

As we’ve mentioned before, Yahtzee rules don’t say anything about betting.  This shouldn’t stop you from wagering a little money while playing this popular board game, though.

House rules for playing Yahtzee will vary from group to group. You can choose to add new betting rules just as you can choose to take certain betting rules away.

When money is on the line, most rules are okay. You just need to make sure you’re on the same page with the other players. Otherwise, you risk there being hard feelings.

Playing Yahtzee Online

Play Yahtzee online

Maybe you came to this page wondering how to play Yahtzee online, or to find out whether you could play Yahtzee online for real money.

Well, we have some good news, and we have some bad news.

The good news is that it is possible to play online Yahtzee. We have found a couple of sites that let you play Yahtzee against a computer.

Both sites are a great way to get in a quick Yahtzee game.

Another option is to play the licensed Yahtzee mobile app. It is called Yahtzee with Buddies. You can find it in the Google Play and Apple App Store.

Those are your options for playing Yahtzee online.

Now, here is the bad news. Chances are you won’t find a legitimate site that offers real money Yahtzee. There were a few options some years ago, but they no longer exist.

You can gamble on some skill games online, but your options for what to play and where to play are slim. We suggest you bet on Yahtzee in your home games and join a real money online casinos for everything else.

Yahtzee FAQ

How Many Dice are Used in Yahtzee?
A

There are five dice which are used to try to roll specific combinations on your scoresheet.

How Many Rolls Do You Get in Yahtzee?
A

You get three rolls per turn and 13 turns per game for a total of 39 rolls (per person) in Yahtzee.

What are the Odds of Rolling a Yahtzee?
A

The probability of rolling a Yahtzee in a single roll is 0.08 percent. The probability of rolling a Yahtzee with two rolls is 1.23 percent. The probability of rolling a Yahtzee with three rolls is 3.43 percent.

Since each of these probabilities are mutually exclusive, the total probability of rolling a Yahtzee is 4.74 percent.

Can I Play Yahtzee for Free Online?
A

Yes, there are a few websites where you can play Yahtzee for free online.

Can I Play Yahtzee Online for Real Money?
A

Probably not. We have not found a website with real money Yahtzee that we would trust with our credit card information. We recommend you bet on Yahtzee games with your friends instead.

What’s the Best Strategy for Yahtzee?
A

Some tips to win at Yahtzee are to aim for the upper section bonus, balance scoring between the upper and lower sections, and utilize your chance option whenever you’re in a tight spot.

Is Yahtzee a Game of Luck or Skill?
A

Yahtzee is a game that has both luck and skill in it. While you can’t control how the dice land, you can certainly control how you score the dice.

Who Invented Yahtzee?
A

Yahtzee was created by a couple in Canada who were looking to find new ways to entertain friends at parties.

Yahtzee was originally called Yacht Game because they often played it with other couples on their yacht. They later sold the rights to a toy maker, Edwin Lowe, who sold the rights to Milton Bradley in 1973.

Ready to Play a Game of Yahtzee?

If you like traditional board games, then you should try playing Yahtzee if you haven’t already. The game is entertaining, whether you’re playing with friends or you’re playing by yourself.

Not only is Yahtzee fun to play, but it will also help you master simple mathematical concepts like probability, addition and subtraction, and reasoning.

These skills later be transferred over to games, such as poker, blackjack, roulette, and other casino games that require quite a bit of mathematical prowess in order to succeed.

While Yahtzee isn’t a traditional gambling-oriented game, you can set your own standard betting rules in order to put a little money on the line.

With over 50 million units sold every year, Yahtzee is a game that is worth checking out. Now that you know how to play Yahtzee, you’re read to join in on all the fun!

Similar Games to Yahtzee

There’s no doubt that Yahtzee is one of the most popular board games out there. There are also other games like Yahtzee that you might want to check out.

Qwixx

Qwixx is like Yahtzee in the sense that Qwixx utilizes dice-rolling to create certain combinations.

In Qwixx, each player is given a scoresheet with the numbers 2-12 in the red and yellow rows and the numbers 12-2 in the green and blue rows.

To score points, you’ll want to knock off as many numbers as possible. However, the kicker is that you can only mark off a number if it’s to the right of the other marked numbers.

If you had no troubles learning the rules for how to play Yahtzee, then Qwixx should easy for you to learn, too.

Roll for It!

Roll for It also uses dice and scoring combinations.

However, Roll for It is a little bit more complicated since this board game also has cards. These cards determine what scoring combinations you can go for.

Each card has a different level of difficulty and will require a certain number of dice. For instance, one card might require two dice while another card might require four dice.

Cards that require two dice are worth two points while cards that require four dice are worth ten points.

For someone to win, players will need to roll combinations and collect cards that are worth a total of 40 points.

Farkle

Farkle is another family-oriented board game similar to Yahtzee. Farkle uses 6 traditional dice. However, 5s and 1s are the only single numbers that can score in this game.

There are combinations that you can hit, such as 3-4-5 and six of a kind. However, at the end of the day, Farkle is a risk management game.

You can always keep rolling with the hopes of getting a bigger score. However, if your score doesn’t improve, then you lose your turn and score nothing.

What’s even better about Farkle is that you don’t even need a board to play. If you have six dice, a pen, and some paper, you can easily start playing.

Texas Hold’em

While Texas Hold’em doesn’t incorporate dice within the game, Yahtzee still has several similarities to this card game. There are some in-game concepts which are broadly the same

For one, several of Yahtzee’s dice combinations are the same as the hands you can make in Texas Hold’em.

Here are the combinations that both Texas Hold’em and Yahtzee share.

  • Three of a Kind
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Straight

Furthermore, both Texas Hold’em and Yahtzee are big on knowing which hands to play. In Yahtzee, if you decide to hold the wrong set of dice, it could cost you money.

In Texas Hold’em, if you’re too confident with your hand, then you could easily lose chips to another player at the table.

This means that both games are also big when it comes to probability.

In both Yahtzee and Texas Hold’em, knowing the probability that you score a certain hand or combination can be the difference between a big score and a big loss.

You might also like Texas Hold’em because you can play it online for real money. Every online gambling site that offers poker has it. You can find our recommendations on the following page.