The Psychology of Backgammon

As you strive to become a skilled backgammon player, it’s crucial to always keep in mind the psychology involved in the game. Knowing your opponent’s playing style is key. Is your opponent a risk-taker? A cautious player? Do they have a consistent playing style? Do they drink heavily while playing? Do they tend to become more aggressive when losing? Are they likely to accept a late double or reject it? Are they performing well that day or not? Do they celebrate excessively when winning? Are they prone to making mistakes?


While skill is important, luck plays a significant role in backgammon, and there may be times when knowing the odds or calculating the mathematical possibilities of a move won’t be of much help. For instance, you might leave a man open to be hit by a one instead of a three, even though the odds are two to one against it happening. However, sometimes you might have a “feel” about the situation, which turns out to be right. Another example could be leaving a three open to gain a significant advantage, but it should only be used in crucial situations and not as a general strategy.

If your opponent is a natural gambler, you should adjust your game accordingly by taking more chances than you typically would, but not as many as they do. Avoid doubling early in the game, as a gambler will take your double later, even if it’s risky. They often hope for a lucky streak of rolls and fail to consider the equal chances of good rolls for both players. A gambler is self-centered and tends not to analyze their opponent’s game carefully. They might even show their nature by shaking the dice harder before rolling and taking unnecessary risks. Be cautious when playing against a gambler, particularly when they are doing well, and consider adopting a super-conservative playing style.


When facing a conservative player, pay close attention to their game. They may tend to overuse a single point, piling up more than two men on it. Be wary of accepting a double from such a player, as they will only do so when they feel they have a significant advantage.

If you believe your opponent is of a similar skill level and the dice are rolling evenly for both of you, use the doubling cube in the same way they do. A player who plays in the same manner as you do will be your easiest opponent. In the end, luck will play a factor and the best rolls will prevail.

A heavy drinker’s game often deteriorates eventually. When playing against a drinking opponent, don’t become overconfident. Stick to your usual game and let them make their own mistakes, which they will. Confidence is key in backgammon. If you are a good player and show confidence, you can confuse your opponent. Similarly, when playing against a skilled player, try to exude as much confidence as possible. Even the best players are human and can make mistakes, and luck can be a factor. Don’t let them intimidate you.

Keep an open mind and don’t get stuck in a rut. If you are a beginner or intermediate player, try not to play one specific style. Continuously strive to improve your game. One way to learn is by playing and observing games of those who are better than you. You may not always agree with their moves, but keep in mind they may have a special reason for making them. Study these moves as they are often made by experienced players for a reason.