How to Play Yahtzee

Yahtzee is a dice game that is relatively easy to learn and play for just about anybody. There is a lot of luck with this game, so people of all ages and all skill levels can play Yahtzee pretty evenly. I have a version of this game that you can play for free here.

There is a bit of strategy that is involved when it comes to which dice you are going to hold as well as which combination you are going to try to get. Let’s go through the basics first:

Yahtzee Rules

yahtzee-gameYahtzee is played with 5 dice. The object is to roll certain combinations in order to receive a score for you roll(s). You will have a total of 3 rolls to try to get the hand that you are going after.

The hands include all six numbers on the Dice. In order to score on one of these, you must hold the dice that display that number. However, these aren’t the first hands to go after. You can always try to get those numbers filled in later on. The other half of the hands are often more important.

You will obviously want to try to get a Yahtzee whenever possible. A Yahtzee is when all 5 dice are the same number. The Large Straight and Full House are the next two difficult to achieve, followed by the Small Straight and the 4 of a Kind. The 3 of a Kind is rather easy to get and should be left until later.

You will also receive one Chance. This chance is simply there to help you if you miss on your intended target. It is basically your one throw away roll.

Scoring System

yahtzee-scoringThe scores for each of the six numbers will be the number on the dice multiplied by the number of dice with that number: Ex. If you have four 4’s, you will score 16 points in the 4 category. If you have three 6’s, you will score 18 points in the 6 category.

The combined score from these 6 spots is called the Upper total. If you receive an Upper total greater than 63, you will receive a 35 point bonus. Why 63 points? Because that is the total if you receive 3 out of 5 dice for each of the six numbers.

The other half of the hands are called the Lower total. The scoring systems vary between each hand:

Points for the 3 of a Kind, 4 of a Kind and Chance are awarded by totaling up the numbers on the 5 dice combined. This means you will not want to go for a 3 of a Kind or 4 of a Kind in 1’s or 2’s.

Points for the final four hands are fixed. You will get 25 points for a Full House, 30 points for a Small Straight, 40 points for a Large Straight and 50 points for a Yahtzee.

To get your final score, you will add the Upper total and you Lower total together. There is no extra bonus for scoring high in the Lower total.


Here are a couple of quick strategies:

Try to get the Large Straight early in the match. The best time to try is when you already have rolled a 2, 3, 4 and 5. This will give you 2 rolls to get 1 of 2 numbers (1 or 6). The other time to try is when you have a lot of low numbers; keep 2, 3 and 4 and try to roll to at least a Small Straight.

Getting the 35 point bonus on your Upper total can be important. That means you should put four 5’s or four 6’s in the 5 or 6 column before you put it in the 4 of a Kind column. That way, you can use the 1 and 2 columns for missed rolls without causing many problems.

If you are going to miss on a Full House, miss early and either miss low or miss high. If you miss high (4s, 5s, 6s), you can enter in that number into Chance and get a high score still. If you miss low (1s, 2s, 3s), you can enter the score directly for one of those numbers.

Always leave the Yahtzee open until you are forced to take a 0 late. You can only expect to get a Yahtzee about 1 in every 3 or 4 games, so you will most likely use that spot to take a 0 when you miss on another target. However, the 50 points it will get you must be taken advantage of because you are much more likely to win..

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