For any regular casino visitor, the rules of games such as Craps, Roulette, Blackjack and many forms of poker will be like knowing the backs of their hands. Yet there is often more to see and do in an online casino than the same old traditional games. Variety is, after all, the spice of life, and perhaps why an increasing number of games are springing up on casino sites in order to keep players enticed with games both new and old. One such game enjoying a current resurgence in popularity is backgammon, the intricacies of which need to be understood before any venture is made therein.
Originating in 11th century France, Backgammon has a simple objective – to bear off (remove) one’s counters or stones from the board before the opposition can do the same.
The Backgammon board consists of 24 triangles, also called points which are alternately coloured. These points are split into four quadrants of 6 points, while a bar separates the two halves of the board. The right half of the board is the player’s home board, the opposite side naturally the home board of the opposition. The points are deemed to run consecutively, so although the edge of the board should split the table it is in fact one long board numbered from 1-24.
Each player receives a set number of fifteen counters. Two of these checkers must be placed on the respective 24-point place of each player, with three counters each on their 8-point and five counters each on both the 6-point and 13-point places.
Like Craps, Backgammon is a game played with dice, the roll of which determines the number of moves each player can make. Naturally, in an online casino the house will operate random-number generation software that determines the fair roll of the dice, all of which are regulated by the UK Gambling commission.
In the first move, a player rolls the dice. Whatever the outcome, the players must move their counters heeding that number, but can move two checkers with each corresponding to the different number on the die face. If a double is rolled, each die must be played twice. For example, if a 4-4 is rolled, a player may move up to four counters four spaces each. Players are compelled to move their counters, and can only not do so if their movement is inhibited.
Likewise, if a player rolls 4-5 and can only move either 4 spaces or 5, but not both together, he must move the larger number of spaces, in this case 5. Similarly, if at first a player can only move one of the die rolls, but upon facilitating that movement the other die roll is made available to him, he must also make that move. A player is therefore compelled to exhaust the possibilities of movement, rather than simply selecting his preferred moves.
When moving, counters may only land on any empty point or any point that holds counters of its own colours, unless the point holds only one of its opponents’ counters. This is called a “blot”, and that opposing counter is placed on the bar in the middle of the board, and can only re-enter the game via the opponent’s home board but take priority over any other moves. Therefore, with each turn for a player who has counters on the bar, he or she must attempt to free those counters by rolling the correct corresponding number related to the points, namely 1-6, with 1 representing point number 24, 2 relating to the 23-point, and so on.
Players can only win the game by “bearing off” their counters when they are in their own home board. This means rolling the dice and removing the checkers that correspond to the numbers rolled, much in the same way as returning checkers from the bar. The first player to bear off his counters before the opposition wins the match, but if the loser has not borne off any counters at all when he loses he is said to lose a “gammon”, meaning that he has lost two matches instead of one. If the loser still has counters on the bar when his opponent removes all of his counters, he has lost a “backgammon”, a triple loss in the game.