Backgammon Rules
 

Backgammon for poker players by Steve Sax

This article is meant for poker players who are interested in playing Backgammon. I myself played backgammon for more than 30 years and I can assure you it is just as exciting as poker.

Poker speler Gus Hansen
Final poker table with backgammon players only

Some of the great poker players are also very good backgammon players. Gus Hansen is considered to be a top 5 backgammon player. Other poker players also playing backgammon are: Erik Seidel, Dan Harrington en “X- 22” Paul Magriel. One WPT final table was occupied with backgammon players only, besides Gus Hansen also Ave Mosseri and Tino Lechnich were present. The famous Unabomber, Phil Laak also plays a game of backgammon once a while.

 
Backgammon player Gus Hansen
Backgammon back from the 70s

In the 70s backgammon was hot! Backgammon was played in fancy clubs and restaurants. Hollywood celebrities like Hugh Hefner and Don Adams were known for playing backgammon frequently. I myself have played Don Adams often in the Cavendish West Club in Hollywood. In the 80s we started playing poker in the casinos as well. From the celebrities today Tobey Maqguire and Leonardo Dicaprio are known to be backgammon players. I myself have had the honor to help Nicole Kidman with backgammon tips.

Combination backgammon and poker

I am a backgammon player, occasionaly playing poker. I really like to play both games because of several reasons. There are many similarities and differences between poker and backgammon. Backgammon is a very open game, while poker is very closed. In poker you don't know for sure whether you are ahead or not when your opponent is raising. In backgammon it is easy to see what you position is when your opponent offers you a double. While there is also math in poker it has a bigger part of the game in backgammon. In poker you will have to go with your experience often and is math only important in the background.

Don't be bored

A very important reason poker players are interested in playing backgammon is the constant action the game offers. There is no way you will get bored playing backgammon. In poker most players fold 80% of their hands preflop. Off course it is still important to stay alert whil out of the game, it is less fun when you're not playing yourself.

 
Bluffing
One of the great aspects of poker is the possibility to win a big hand while having crappy cards. The bluffing aspect is what makes people beleive they can always win a pot at any time. This is the great and also the downside of poker. In backgammon the bluffing part is limited to behavior, attitude and experience. The game itself is as open as can be.
Keep playing poker
I will not advice poker players to stop playing poker and start with backgammon. The thing I like the most is playing both! After a couple beats in poker it is nice to return to an open game withouth all the bluffing.
Playing games

Playing backgammon games means you are playing one opponent at the time. Compared to poker where you play up to 9 opponents at the same table this is very different. A tournament usually goed by a drop-out scheme playing one opponent at the time advancing to the next round. It is also possible to play double tournaments where the teams can negotiate about every move to make. The information discussed is open on the table anyway.

I will end my article by saying I met a guy the other day who was playing backgammon for 78 years now.

Play well and have fun!

 
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