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Best Strategy for Using the Doubling Cube

Author: Neha Agrawal

Backgammon has a unique feature which virtually no other game or sport has. It is the Doubling Cube, which can either increase the stakes of the game or end the game immediately.

The Doubling Cube in Backgammon is basically a chance you get to challenge your opponent with a “double or nothing” dare. In other games, this is usually just talk, or it’s usually only spoken by the loser after they’ve already lost. But in backgammon, the doubling cube lets you pose that question at any time during the game.

Both players in a game of backgammon have original access to the doubling cube. At a point when either player considers it appropriate, they can put the doubling cube in front of their opponent. The first number on the cube is two, which means the game would continue for twice the stakes, be they points or money. If the opponent accepts, then he or she takes control of the doubling cube and at some point during the rest of the game, they can put it down on the next number, 4, which means the stakes are now four times the original arrangement. The numbers on the cube keep doubling all the way up to 64, though it’s highly unlikely the stakes will ever multiply to that level.

When the doubling cube is presented, the opponent also has the option of turning down the offer, but to do so, he or she will lose the game.

It’s hard to find an equivalent to the doubling cube in other games, at least in the official rules. In chess, you can offer your opponent a draw, but you can’t ask him to give up. In poker, depending on tournament rules or the location that you are playing, you can try to talk or verbally intimidate your opponent into doing something, but you might just be ignored.

Of course in poker, you could always make a large bet to try to force an opponent to give up his hand, but generally, it’s just a gamble.

There are many theories on when to use the doubling cube in Backgammon. Usually, you want to be in a better position before you offer it, though again, the threat of losing higher stakes might make an inferior opponent accept the offer even if the game is roughly even.

Normally, a player should be fairly confident of victory before using the doubling cube. But because luck is such a factor in a backgammon game, most good players will not give up the game unless they feel it is hopeless. The idea is to use the doubling cube before it gets to the point where the other player will just give up the game. But the decision is complicated because you also don’t want to use it before you feel confident of victory.