During the holidays, my extended family engaged in one of our annual traditions, a game of Monopoly. Though my family has played many times before, there is often confusion about the exact rules, as many people have house rules they are used to. With this in mind I decided to read through the official rules once again, and clear up some of this uncertainty. In the actual rules I learned about many things people do wrong while playing the game. I also learned by employing the correct rules, Monopoly games that can stretch on “forever” under house rules shortened to more reasonable periods of time.
Monopoly, for those who maybe haven’t played, is one of the most popular and enduring board games in America and the world. The object of the game is to buy property, negotiate with others and attempt to be the last person standing in the game by bankrupting your opponents. First published in 1935, it is played in dozens of countries.
Monopoly is so popular and well-known most people in the United States have at least a basic understanding of the game’s rules. Though this is great for finding people to play at a family gathering, this often creates a lot of confusion because people believe they know the rules to the game and so they don’t often read them, creating a litany of house rules and exceptions that slow down the pace of the game and hurt its dynamics.
The largest of these house rule headaches is the “Free Parking” space. Situated on the second corner of the board after the start at “Go,” this area is home to many a misconception. Many people play “Free Parking” as being some sort of lottery space. Money is placed into the center of the board, either a base amount and/or money collected from fines, and is then cashed out as a jackpot to the lucky person who lands on the space.
Not only is this against the rules, it actually hurts the game. The rules state “Free Parking” is just that, a free space to land where you don’t have to pay anyone rent. By putting additional money into the game as a jackpot, it prolongs the game by putting money into the game that isn’t supposed to be there and allowing players to continue longer than under the actual rules.
Contrary to popular belief, getting sent to jail in the game isn’t as bad as you would often believe either. Some players state going to jail keeps you from collecting rent, or you have to stay in jail for a full three turns if you don’t roll doubles first. Both of these rules are incorrect.
You can absolutely collect rent while in jail and tournament-level Monopoly players often try specifically to get into jail so they can sit and collect rent without risking landing on other players’ properties. You can also buy your way out of jail as soon as your next turn by paying $50.
Another issue that often comes up is that of houses and hotels. These can be bought and placed on complete colored sets of properties in the later game, increasing rent and helping you to bankrupt your opponents. The game includes 32 houses and 12 hotels. In my experience, many players often resort to finding objects to simulate these pieces if they run out during gameplay. However, adding additional houses and hotels is against the rules.
There is intentionally only so many houses and hotels in the game in order to create scarcity. If all of the houses and hotels are in use, players are supposed to wait until some are returned to the bank, and if there are multiple interested buyers, the bank is supposed to auction them off.
Though I can’t cover all the house rules and changes people might be playing with Monopoly in this column, just implementing these three major rules correctly can have a massive impact on the game. So the next time your family wants to start up a game of Monopoly, skim over the rules first. You might save yourselves a lot of confusion, and time.
Connor Kockler is a student at St. John’s University. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.
Author: Connor Kockler
Kockler enjoys extensive reading, especially biographies and historical novels, and he has always had an almost inborn knack for writing well. He also enjoys following the political scene, nationally and internationally. In school, his favorite subjects are social studies and language. Two of his other hobbies are golfing and bicycling.