Yahtzee Rules!

Name: Yahtzee

Number of players: Yahtzee rules say the game is for two or more players, however, as each person takes their turn individually, it can become slow when more than six people play.

Recommended ages: 8 and up

Average playing time: Around 20 minutes for a two player game


Yahtzee is one of the easiest board games to play, as all you need is a set of five dice and a Yahtzee score card for each player. It is a turn taking game, so you may need to be patient if many players are in the game. It requires no interaction among players meaning that whatever happens on your turn has no bearing on what your opponents will do. Fans of games like Poker and Craps will appreciate the combination approach to scoring as well as the luck brought about by the dice.

How to Play

Learning how to play Yahtzee is easy as the modern Yahtzee rules are fairly simple to follow. Each player in turn takes the five dice and rolls them. They are allowed to roll two more times, saving any dice that already hold the numbers that they want. After the three rolls, the Yahtzee rules say that the player must then declare which of 13 categories he wants to score. The categories from which the player chooses are:

  • Specific numbers is when a player declares that he wants to score all the threes that he has rolled, for example. He notes down the total number of dots shown by the threes, so four threes would score him 12 points in that row.
  • Three or Four of a kind is similar to the specific number columns, however the player can only score three or four times the number even if more dice are rolled.
  • Full House is similar to the idea of poker, a player scores these points by having three of one number and two of another. Typically, this scores a set bonus of 25 regardless of the numbers shown.
  • Small Straight is any four consecutive numbers and in normal Yahtzee rules scores a standard bonus of 30 points regardless of which four numbers are rolled.
  • Large Straight is similar to the small straight, but the large straight is any five consecutive numbers. This carries a larger bonus of 40 points.
  • Yahtzee, the combination for which the game is named, is simply all five dice showing the same number. A player achieving this feat scores 50 points.
  • Chance is simply the total of all the dice shown.

Each row is used only once per game. Towards the end of the game, players may find that they are only left with the harder combinations. If their dice roll combination does not fit any row, they can enter a score of zero in any row as forfeit.

Winning the Game

The winner of a game of Yahtzee is the player with the highest total score from all 13 boxes at the end of the game. Some variations give you a separate bonus for filling in all the bonus boxes or reaching a specific target in the specific number boxes.


It is much easier to put scores in the specific number section, so players should aim to get the bonus scores early. If they fail, the dice can still be entered in the specific number or chance sections. The chance box should be used only as a last resort when no points can be gained anywhere else.

Final Thoughts

The simple Yahtzee rules make it a fairly quick and easy game to play. It is a great way to get younger children interested in math and probability, while adults will like the challenge of trying to beat their own personal score.

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