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Introducing another (yawn) variation: BARTERGAMMON

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Saturday, 9 January 2016, at 4:45 p.m.


Yes, yes, I know. People say I must really hate backgammon to keep coming up with new ways to play the game. If you know me, you know that is not true….I am looking for new ways to play because I can’t beat anyone at regular backgammon.

So I come up with a variation, and eventually, others learn to play it better than me and I have to come up with something new.

With that said, I invite you to beat me at BarterGammon, which I have invented, tried, and really enjoy.

The rules are simple. You play a money game in a very normal way. Let’s say you play for $10 a point. Any time your opponent rolls something you don’t like, you can offer him money to roll over. He must take your offer, or offer you more to keep the roll. It’s that simple.

If you are playing for $10 a point, your offer can be as low as $1 before the cube is turned, and counter-offers can be in increments of $1.00 or more if you like. And if the cube is at 2, the lowest offer must be $2 and counter-offers at $2 increments or more. And so on.

If the roll-over offer is accepted, there is no bartering on the re-roll, so of course, the player might roll the same thing or even better, and that must be taken into account.

Bartering also applies to the doubling cube. If someone doubles, you can offer them a price to keep the cube, and they can then counter offer in order to give the cube. Yes, this does change the doubling strategy, but of course, since it changes it for both sides, it does not “unfairly” impact the game.

Yes, the game is slower, but there is more action and mental calculation (and even some bluffing) and the bartering must go quickly or you simply shouldn’t play this game.

What bartering adds is another skillset to the game and it also makes you more aware of the value of each roll and cube and is therefore an excellent intellectual exercise. (It can be fun, after a barter is done, to look at dice distribution and see just how much above or below average the roll really is, or look at XG and see just how much equity is gained or lost by stopping a double.)

At the end of the day, how much you win or lose will rest not only on your playing skills, but on your bartering skills and ability to assess the value of each roll and cube action.

I have only played this once so far, and it was really fun and interesting. (It was for small stakes, but I will pay what I owe as soon as my government check arrives.)

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