OBJECTIVE: In Yahtzee players aim to gain points by rolling dice combinations. The player with the highest total score after 13 rounds wins.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1+
MATERIALS: five dice, dice cup, ten bonus chips, score pad.
TYPE OF GAME: Board game
AUDIENCE: All ages
OVERVIEW OF YAHTZEE
This post contains some partner links for various products.
- Dice-rollin' battle game
- Includes 5 dice and shaker
- Yahtzee comes with 100 score cards
Did you know that Yahtzee has been around since 1956? It was first created by Edwin S. Lowe, who published the game with Milton Bradley. Yahtzee is a wonderful game for a family game night or a quiet evening alone.
In the text below, we will thoroughly review the game’s rules. We have also added some probabilities for you if you are trying to up your game. Another great dice-rolling game is Farkle; check it out.
SETUP FOR YAHTZEE
You will hand each player a scorecard. To determine the first player, each player will roll all five dice. The person who rolls the highest total goes first, and the play moves to the left.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Inside your Yahtzee game, you will find several things.
- Yahtzee rulebook
- Scoring sheets
- Five dice
- Plastic markers
- Rolling cup
HOW TO PLAY YAHTZEE
On your turn, you have three opportunities to roll the dice to score the highest points from dice combinations. After three rolls, mark your score or a zero on your scorecard in the corresponding column. You may stop after the first roll if satisfied with the outcome.
Roll all five dice. Either stop your turn here and mark your points or set aside dice that are ‘keepers’ and roll again.
You may roll any or all of the dice from the first roll. You need not declare which combination you are attempting to roll for, as it may change after the second roll. After the second roll, you may stop and score yourself or roll again.
Again, you may roll any or all of the five dice. After this roll you must score yourself or mark a zero. After marking your score, your turn is over, and play moves left.
On the scorecard, 13 columns correspond to the 13 rounds in each game. You must fill in a box on your turn, even if you score yourself zero. The scorecard is separated into two sections: Upper Section and Lower Section.
Aces (Ones): Total of Aces
Twos: Total of Twos
Threes: Total of Threes
Fours: Total of Fours
Fives: Total of Fives
Sixes: Total of Sixes
How to Score Upper Section:
If you roll, for example, three 3s, one 2, and one 4, you can score that as a 9 in the threes box, a 2 in the twos box, or a 4 in the fours box.
The objective of the Upper Section is to score, by any combination, 63 points to earn a 35-point bonus.
THREE OF A KIND
Total of all five dice. Score only in this section if you roll three or more of the same number on the dice.
Alternative Scoring: You can score the total number in the upper section or the total of all dice in the chance section.
FOUR OF A KIND
Total of all five dice. Score only in this section if you roll four or more of the same number on the dice.
Alternative Scoring: You can also score the total in the 3-of-a-kind or chance box. You may also score them in the upper section.
25 points. In the Yahtzee rules, you score a Full House when there are three of one number and two dice of another. Full Houses are always 25 points, no matter which numbers compose it.
Alternative Scoring: You can also total the three dice and score in the 3 of a Kind or score all dice in the Chance box. You can also score in the Upper Section.
30 points. You score small straights with any four sequential dice; for example, if you roll a 2, 3, 4, 5, or any other number that is considered a small straight, No matter where the straight starts or ends, it is always 30 points, as long as it fits the small straight criteria.
Alternative Scoring: Replace a small straight score in the Chance box instead of a small straight box.
40 points. You score large straights with any five sequential dice. For example, rolling a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and any other number is considered a large straight. As with the small straight, regardless of whether the sequence starts with a one or a two, it is still scored as 40 points.
Alternative Scoring: You can score large straights in the small straight or chance box.
50 points. You can only score in the Yahtzee box if you roll five dice of the same number or a 5 of a kind. Each following Yahtzee rolled earns you a bonus.
Total of all five dice. The chance box is a free-for-all box that you can use when you cannot score in other categories and do not want to score a zero.
After rolling one Yahtzee, the next Yahtzee earns you a 100-point bonus. Grab a bonus chip and mark a check in the Yahtzee bonus box. After, fill in one of the 13 boxes according to Joker Rules (described below). There is no limit to the amount of Yahtzee bonuses you can earn. However, if you have already marked a zero in the Yahtzee box, you can not earn Yahtzee bonuses. Fill in one of the 13 boxes by Joker Rules.
Score the total of the five rolled dice in the Upper Section. If you fill those, score in the Lower Section by point values defined above, i.e., Small Straight is 30 points.
An example of Joker Rules in the Yahtzee rules is that you roll five 5s but have already marked zero in your Yahtzee box. You also scored 5s in the upper section. Joker Rules allow you to open any box in the Lower Section for scoring you still need to score. For example, if it is open, you may mark 40 in the Large Straight Box.
Yahtzee probabilities can change drastically depending on your strategy in the game. Players who strive to get the most Yahtzees will have a much different chance of winning than a player going for even scoring.
The chance of a player rolling a Yahtzee in a single turn is 4.61% or 1 in 22 turns. The odds of rolling a Yahtzee in a single roll drastically decrease to 0.077%.
HIGHEST SCORE POSSIBLE
The highest score possible in Yahtzee is 1575. You can only achieve this score by rolling a Yahtzee every round. The odds of this occurring is about 0.000000000000000043797%. So, it is astronomically unlikely.
LOWEST SCORE POSSIBLE
The lowest score possible in Yahtzee is 5. You may be thinking to yourself, would it not be 0? But no, with the chance section, the only way to get the lowest score would be to get five 1s and score them in chance.
The true difference between an optimized strategy and a high-score mentality is illustrated in the average scores of the game. The player that is optimizing their turns scores 255 points. On average, a player who strictly tries for Yahtzees scores 172 points.
ENDING A GAME OF YAHTZEE
After you and all players fill all 13 columns, the game ends. Now, each player totals their score in the following way:
Upper Section: Mark the total sum of your Upper Section score in the corresponding total score box. If you score 63 points or more, add the 35-point bonus before marking your total score.
Lower Section: You will mark the total sum of the Lower Section score in the corresponding total score box. Add 100 points for each check in the Yahtzee bonus box.
Grand Total: Sum of Upper and Lower Sections. This sum is your total score for that game—the player with the highest total wins.
The same Yahtzee rules apply, but you simply play yourself! Challenge yourself to beat your previous scores in solo play. Check out our compilation of the 12 best solo board games!
How Many Dice Are There in Yahtzee?
There are five dice you will roll on your turns.
How Many Rolls Do You Get In Yahtzee?
There are 13 rounds of Yahtzee, and each player can have up to 3 rolls in each round.
What Is the Highest Possible Score in Yahtzee?
The absolute maximum score you can get in the standard Yahtzee rules is 1,575 points.
Where Does the Word “Yahtzee” Come From?
The game’s original creators were a couple who played the game on their yacht. When they sold the game rights, the company wanted to keep some of its original heritage in the name.
In some game versions, players must complete the upper section before they can start scoring into the lower section.
At Solitaried.com, you can play Yahtzee free online in both single-player and multi-player modes.
If you want a supersized version of Yahtzee, check out Yardzee, a giant game meant to be played outdoors. We also cover some other fun giant games in our roundup article.