How Yahtzee Works

Yahtzee is a remarkably simple game. It's five dice, a cup, some discs and score pad.
Yahtzee is a remarkably simple game. It's five dice, a cup, some discs and score pad.
Image courtesy Hasbro

Aboard a yacht in 1954, a couple of Canadians looking to pass the days at sea got creative with a handful of dice. Almost 60 years later, 100 million people around the world play The Yacht Game, only they call it Yahtzee [source: WMW].

The Canadians sold their dice game to entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe, who changed the name, marketed it to popularity and sold it (along with the rest of his company) to Milton Bradley in the 1970s.

The game is still selling today. Judging by advertising gusto alone, it would seem like first-person shooters and second lives have far surpassed such low-tech fun as Yahtzee, but board games are actually the more popular pastime, at least among adults: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2003, 17.7 percent of adults in America played board games, while 14 percent played video games [source: Census].

(A day at the zoo is slightly less popular form of entertainment, coming in at 12.3 percent, and surfing the Web is way up there at 28 percent.)

Technically speaking, Yahtzee is more of a dice game than a board game, but it's in the same aisle of the store. It's astonishingly low-tech for how much play it gets these days: Open the box and you'll find five dice, a cup, some little plastic discs and a paper score pad. In a nutshell, the point is to roll an assortment of combinations, each of which carries a different number of points. In the end, the player with the highest score wins.

There's a bit more to it, but that's the gist. In this article, we'll see what Yahtzee is all about. We'll find out how to play and how to win, and check out some strategies that make winning a bit more likely.

We'll begin with some Yahtzee basics: What's the goal and how do you get there?

More to Explore