A Winning Strategy For Farkle
If you Google the history of Farkle, you'll find numerous theories as to the origin of the game, all significantly different. But one thing we know for sure:
Farkle is older than dirt. First there was Farkle, then dirt.
Why do you suppose it's been around for so long? Probably because it's fun. Farkle has just the right combination of luck and skill to have amassed a broad appeal among people around the world and to have remained popular for hundreds of years. If you have never played Farkle, you should give it a try.
Many Farkle enthusiasts insist that luck is much more prominent in determining a winner than any skill involved. This is true in a single game. But as more games are played, skill becomes more significant and luck less significant in determining the overall winner. If you sit down with 3 friends and play 12 games of Farkle, luck alone dictates that you'll win about 3 games, and so will your friends. 3 times 4 equals 12.
However, if you use my Winning Strategy For Farkle (and assuming your friends do not), you'll more likely win about 4 games rather than 3. No, it does not mean you'll win every game, but over time, you will emerge as the best Farkle player in your group. Your friends will start calling you "The Farkle Expert", or "Mr. (or Mrs. or Miss) Farkle" or "The Farkle Guru". Would that be cool or what?
My strategy assumes the following rules:
· It takes 500 points to get "on the board".
· It takes 10000 points to win.
· A five is worth 50 points.
· A one is worth 100 points.
· Three 1's is worth 300 points.
· Three 2's is worth 200 points.
· Three 3's is worth 300 points.
· Three 4's is worth 400 points.
· Three 5's is worth 500 points.
· Three 6's is worth 600 points.
· Any 4-of-a-kind is worth 1000 points.
· Straight (1-2-3-4-5-6) is worth 1500 points.
· Three Pair (2-2-3-3-4-4) is worth 1500 points.
· Any 5-of-a-kind is worth 2000 points.
· Triplets (2-2-2-3-3-3) are worth 2500 points.
· Any 6-of-a-kind is worth 3000 points.
1. In the beginning of a game, when you are trying to get the required points to get "on the board", stop throwing after you have the required points on the table, unless you can throw all 6 dice again. If you can throw all the dice again, that is called ".. and rolling" and you should do that.
Example # 1: You throw 5-5-5-2-3-4
The three 5's are worth 500 points. So you have enough to get "on the board". So do not throw the remaining 3 dice again. Just stop and take the 500 points.
Example # 2: You throw 1-2-3-4-5-6
You have a straight worth 1500 points so you could stop and satisfy the "on the board" requirement. But since you can throw all 6 dice again, you should do that.
Now that you have satisfied the "on the board" requirement, we can talk about the rest of the game.
2. If, after any turn, you discover that all six dice are worth points, so that you can throw all six dice again if you choose, you should throw the dice again. This rule is especially difficult to adhere to when you have just thrown triplets or some other high-scoring combination, and you're thinking to yourself, "If I throw all six dice and get nothing (a Farkle, a goose-egg, the big zero, the old 'bust-a-roo'), then I'll loose the 2500 points for my Triplet. Oh gosh, I do not think I could go on living if that happened. It would be devastating. It would put a hole in my self-esteem the size of the Belgian Congo "
Nah. It's not that bad. You'll bust (or "Farkle") less than 10% of the time which means over 90% of the time you'll throw some more points and improve your score.
3. So the big decision, the one you'll have to make dozens of times in each game of Farkle, is "should I stop now, or keep throwing?"
The exact answer to this question is very complicated. But we can simplify it and put it into terms everyone can deal with. You just need two pieces of information: 1) how many dice am I considering throwing and 2) how many points would I have if I did not throw, ie, if I stopped now?
If you are considering throwing:
6 dice Just do it! Do not worry about it.
5 dice Stop at 2000 points or more. Otherwise go ahead and throw.
4 dice Stop at 1000 points or more. Otherwise go ahead and throw.
3 dice Stop at 500 points or more. Otherwise go ahead and throw.
2 dice Stop at 400 points or more. Otherwise go ahead and throw.
1 dice Stop at 300 points or more. Otherwise go ahead and throw.
4. Never hold a 5 (worth 50 points) unless you have no other choice.
Example # 1: You throw 5-5-2-3-3-4
You could hold on to the two fives (worth 100 points total) and throw the remaining 4 dice. But it's better to hold just one of the fives (worth 50 points) and throw the remaining 5 dice.
Example # 2: You throw 1-5-5-2-3-3
Here, you have a single one (worth 100 points) and two fives (worth 100 points combined). So you could save those three dice and throw the other three. But you would be making a mistake. The rules say that you must hold at least one die before you can continue your turn and throw again, so the correct strategy is to hold the single one and not the two fives. So you would throw five dice.
5. When an opponent gets above 8000 points, you need to start thinking about playing a little more aggressively. Especially if your total is 5000 or less. When the difference between your score and leader becomes greater than the difference between the leader and winning the game, it's time to take the gloves off. Up those totals in rule 3 above. Do not stop at 400 points when you have 2 dice to throw. Keep throwing!
When my opponent is within 1000 points of winning the game, and I'm way down at 5000 points or so, I do not stop throwing until I get above 2000 points. Every so often, I get that big throw that puts me right back in the game.
Look at it this way, although it may look dangerous to continue throwing when you have 700 or 800 points, especially if you're only throwing 2 dice, the alternative of stopping is not going to do you any good! Adding 700 or 800 points to a pitiful score like 5000 is not going to change the outcome of the game … you are still going to lose! The only thing that will save you now is some big 4-digit turns.
So stop worrying about it and throw those dice! Throw them fast and furiously. Throw 'em like there's no tomorrow. Throw 'em like a drunken sailor.
As I mentioned at the outset, this strategy will not guarantee a victory on any particular game. But it will ensure that you win more than your share of games. Remember, your goal is to be known throughout your town as the "Farkle Queen" (or "King" as the case may be).