How Monopoly Works

By: Dave Roos  | 

Monopoly Board and Game Pieces

Every game of Monopoly comes with the same amount of money, token pieces and playing cards. CaseyMartin/Shutterstock

When you open the Monopoly box, you'll find the following:

  • a Monopoly board
  • two dice
  • 12 game tokens
  • 32 houses and 12 hotels
  • 16 Chance cards and 16 Community Chest cards
  • a title deed card for each property
  • Monopoly money

There are 40 squares on the standard Monopoly board, although technically there are 41 possible squares upon which to land, since the "jail" square is divided into two sections. There are 22 property squares named for streets in or around Atlantic City. There are four railroad squares named for the early 20th century railroad lines, and two utility companies, the Electric Company and Water Works. That makes 28 total squares that can be purchased.


In addition, there are three Community Chest squares and three Chance squares that require players to draw a card. Both Chance and Community Chest cards can be good or bad. There is the famous "Get out of Jail Free" card, but there's also the "Go directly to jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200" card.

The two most potentially disastrous cards are those requiring "street repairs" and "general repairs" for all houses or hotels you own. The "street repairs" card requires the player that draws it to pay the bank $40 per house and $115 per hotel, which is a tough blow to folks who have invested heavily to improve their properties. The "general repairs" card isn't much better, charging $25 per house and $100 per hotel. Other unfortunate squares include Luxury Tax (which carries a $100 penalty) and Income Tax ($200 or 10 percent of your net worth).

The four remaining squares are the corner squares. GO is where play begins. Every time you land on or pass GO on subsequent turns, you collect $200, referred to as your "salary" in Monopoly. Free Parking is the only space in the game that requires you to do absolutely nothing. The "Go to Jail" square only results in jail time if you land on it, not if you pass it. The Jail square has two sections: "Just Visiting" is if you roll and land on Jail; and "In Jail" is when you get sent to jail.

Next we'll look at the official Monopoly rules, which are useful when arguing with your sister about the penalty for rolling three doubles in a row.