Monopoly is marketed as a game, sure—we think it’s definitely one of the classic board games everyone should own. But anyone who’s played it knows that it’s actually more of an hours-long, high-stakes battle of wits. And it can sure be frustrating to play for hours on end and amass several properties…only to go bankrupt and lose. So how to win Monopoly? Is there a foolproof strategy to master Monopoly and win every time?
Well, of course, there’s no magical trick for how to always win at Monopoly. And there’s no one Monopoly winning strategy that secures your odds. But there are a few different strategies you can use that, when combined, vastly increase your chances. According to a couple of expert players—Flynn Zaiger and Dary Merckens—here’s how to win Monopoly.
Buy, buy, buy
This might be one of the tips for how to win Monopoly that you’ve heard before—buy everything you land on! Does this Monopoly winning strategy actually work? Well, Zaiger, who is the founder of the Tulane University Board Games Club, swears by it. “From the start of the game, it’s a good idea to buy as much as possible,” Zaiger told Reader’s Digest. “Unlike real life, in Monopoly, it’s rarely good to save. You don’t earn any interest from the money you have, whereas property you purchase will always have a chance to be bringing in dollars.”
And Merckens, who is the CTO of Gunner Technology as well as a Monopoly fanatic, agrees that it’s a good tactic for how to win Monopoly. The faster you can amass properties and start building houses, the better.
Focus on orange (and its neighbors)
While it’s good to buy as many things as possible, both experts agree that it’s particularly essential to focus on the orange properties. There’s a lot of complicated game strategy behind this, involving the probability of landing in certain spots. Merckens explains how the orange spaces are one roll away from several high-traffic spots, such as Jail, the Electric Company, and Charles Place. In addition to oranges, the nearby monopolies are also valuable properties to try for too. “Statistically speaking, the most common spaces on the board to land on are those between Jail and Free Parking, and Free Parking [and] Go to Jail,” Zaiger explains. “When given a chance, trade/build on those five monopolies: light blue, pink, orange, red, and yellow.” Even Monopoly pros actually might not know about this little-known rule that’s hidden in plain sight in the rulebook.
Buy houses…not hotels
Speaking of building, what you build—and don’t build—can make a big difference in your chances of winning. One of the most crucial tips Merckens stresses for a Monopoly winning strategy is to always remember that there are only 32 houses. “Once those 32 houses run out, nobody can build any more houses on any of their properties,” he stresses. “You want to be building houses right away, and if you ever get a monopoly, throw three houses on that sucker as fast as you can. You want to exhaust the supply of houses available.”
To win, you also want to be quick to get a monopoly (it is the name of the game, after all). “The first player to get a monopoly on the board has the best chance at bankrupting their opponents before they can do the same to you,” Zaiger says. “Building houses is essential to taking down the competition. Even if you don’t have a lot of money remaining, you should do everything you can, including trading and mortgaging, to get up to at least three houses on a property.” Once you do that, the other players will be paying vastly more once they land on your spaces.
As for hotels, though, Merckens believes that those are not good investments. “All you’re doing is putting more houses back into the housing supply,” he says. “Your primary goal should be to have all the houses on all of your properties, which effectively stops your competitors from building any houses on any of theirs.” (This is how to win at tic-tac-toe every time.)
How to win Monopoly: Other tips
In addition to those big rules, Merckens offers a few more little strategies to combine for a Monopoly winning strategy. He says that you actually don’t want to be the banker: “It’s too distracting, and you’ll miss a rent payment at some point while you’re handing money out.” Another thing you don’t want to do? Buy railroads. “Except for the fourth railroad—you don’t want someone owning them all,” he advises. And finally, perhaps the most surprising tip: “Towards the end of the game, don’t be afraid to hang out in Jail,” Merckens says. “It might be the safest place to be and your competitors might go bankrupt while you’re chilling in prison.” Who knew?! Now that you’re an expert in gameplay, find out these little-known facts about your favorite games.