How to Use the Gambling Dice in Backgammon

Wondering how to use the gambling dice in Backgammon? Master the art of doubling with strategic timing and psychological tactics to sway the game in your favor. Learn when to challenge and when to hold back to maximize your success on the board.

How to Use the Gambling Dice in Backgammon

Brief Overview of Backgammon

Backgammon, one of the oldest known board games, continues to captivate players with its blend of strategy and luck. This two-player game involves moving pieces around the board, aiming to bear off all your pieces before your opponent can do the same. The challenge and intrigue of backgammon are enhanced by the strategic use of dice.

Importance of Gambling Dice in the Game

In backgammon, the gambling dice, commonly referred to as the doubling cube, is a pivotal tool. It isn’t just about rolling to determine the movement of the pieces; it’s about raising the stakes. The doubling cube introduces a gambling element that can dramatically shift the dynamics and outcome of the game, making it essential to master for any serious player.

Understanding Gambling Dice in Backgammon

Definition of Gambling Dice

The gambling dice in backgammon is a die with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 marked on its faces. Unlike regular dice that dictate the moves of the pieces, the gambling dice, or doubling cube, is used to increase the stakes of the game. This cube acts as a multiplier of the points that can be won or lost in a game, making its strategic use crucial.

Difference Between Regular and Gambling Dice

While standard playing dice control the pace and movement in backgammon, the doubling cube controls the game’s risk and reward. Understanding the difference is key: regular dice guide the tactical decisions of each move, whereas the gambling dice influence the overall strategic warfare and psychological battle, pushing players to manage their risk tolerance effectively.

Basic Rules of Using Gambling Dice

When to Use Gambling Dice

The doubling cube is introduced once the game is underway and both players have moved at least one piece. It’s typically used when a player believes they have a significant advantage and wants to propose doubling the stakes. The opponent then must decide whether to accept the double or concede the game at the current stakes.

How to Roll Gambling Dice

Unlike regular dice, the doubling cube is not rolled but set to a chosen value when a player decides to double the stakes. This cube is then offered to the opponent, who can accept the double and continue the game or resign, thus losing the game at the current stake level.

Common Rules and Game Variations

In most backgammon games, the use of the doubling cube is governed by agreed-upon rules. The cube can only be offered at the beginning of a turn before rolling the dice. After a player accepts a double, control of the cube shifts to them, and they have the option to redouble in future turns. Different variants and house rules may adjust how the doubling cube is used, adding depth and complexity to this traditional game.

Strategies for Using Gambling Dice

Doubling for Advantage

One fundamental strategy in using the doubling cube is to double at a moment when you hold a clear advantage, potentially intimidating your opponent into forfeiting the game. Knowing when to double requires an understanding of the game’s dynamics and your opponent’s psychology.

Timing Your Doubles

Timing is everything with the doubling cube. The decision to double should be based not just on the state of the game but also on your opponent’s temperament and the match score. If your opponent is cautious or if you’re nearing the end of a match, an aggressive double can be particularly effective.

Psychological Tactics

The psychological aspect of the doubling cube cannot be overstated. Offering a double can shake an opponent’s confidence and disrupt their game plan. Conversely, accepting a double can signal confidence, potentially intimidating your opponent. The interplay of knowing when to challenge and when to accept a challenge is a subtle but profound layer of backgammon strategy.

By mastering these elements of the gambling dice, players can significantly enhance their backgammon gameplay, turning each match into a thrilling exchange of strategic wits and daring gambles.

How to Use the Gambling Dice in Backgammon

Advanced Techniques

Using Gambling Dice in Bearing Off

The bearing off phase, where players remove their checkers from the board, is crucial in backgammon. Using the doubling cube strategically at this stage can be a game-changer. When you begin to bear off, having the advantage with the cube can pressure your opponent, especially if they are far behind. It’s essential to assess your and your opponent’s progress accurately before deciding to double, as the end game can shift rapidly with each roll of the dice.

Calculating Odds and Making Smart Bets

Advanced players often use probability calculations to inform their decisions with the doubling cube. Understanding the likelihood of possible outcomes based on the current configuration of the board helps in making more informed decisions about when to double or accept a double. This includes evaluating the pip count, the distribution of checkers on the board, and the number of checkers yet to be borne off.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Overuse of the Doubling Cube

One frequent misstep is using the doubling cube too aggressively or too frequently. While it can be tempting to double as a bluff or to intimidate your opponent, inappropriate use can lead to significant point losses, especially in a match play setting where the margin for error is smaller due to the cumulative scoring.

Misreading the Game Board and Opponent’s Strategy

Another error is misjudging the game state or the opponent’s tactics. This can lead to premature or ill-advised doubling decisions. A thorough understanding of both the general strategies of backgammon and the specific tendencies of your opponent can mitigate this risk, enabling more strategic and timely decisions regarding the doubling cube.

Practicing Effective Gambling Dice Usage

Practice Scenarios

Regular practice through various game scenarios is vital for mastering the doubling cube. Setting up specific board positions and deciding whether to double, accept, or decline a double in practice sessions can greatly enhance your ability to make these decisions in real games. This method also helps in understanding more deeply how shifts in the game’s dynamics affect the use of the cube.

Learning from Professional Games

Watching and analyzing games played by professional backgammon players can provide insights into expert use of the doubling cube. Many professionals publish their games or play in streamed tournaments, providing a wealth of learning opportunities. Observing how experts handle the doubling cube in various situations can offer strategic nuances not easily gleaned from books or casual play.


Mastering the use of gambling dice in backgammon involves understanding when and how to use the doubling cube effectively. It requires a good grasp of game dynamics, strategic calculation of odds, and psychological manipulation. Avoiding common pitfalls such as the overuse of the cube and misreading the game are also critical for becoming a proficient player.

The only way to truly become adept at using the gambling dice is through continuous practice and engagement with the game at both casual and competitive levels. I encourage you to apply these strategies in your games, study professional matches, and regularly challenge yourself with new scenarios. This proactive approach will not only enhance your skills but also deepen your appreciation for the complexities and delights of backgammon.

Access my free content and join exclusive, private email circle for strategic advice, personal stories, and expert tips.

No spam. Betting value only.