Think You Know Monopoly? 

Many people love Monopoly, but rarely find the time to play it. As a cultural icon, it is unmatched, but as a game, it has problems that keep it from being played as much as it might be. The drawbacks of Monopoly are that it is long, players are eliminated, and no amount of skill will overcome bad dice luck.

There are several good articles online on how to get the most out of your next game of Monopoly. According to Mark Jackson's Web site Game Central Station,, the first thing is to make sure you are playing by the correct rules, as many folks aren't but don't realize it. Jackson says the five biggest rules folks break without realizing it are as follows:

• Players don't collect any money for landing on "Free Parking."

• When a player lands on an unowned property and chooses not to buy it, that property is then auctioned.

• There are a limited number of houses and hotels in the game, and when they are all built, no more are available.

• Loans are not allowed.

• Only tangible items can be traded. No "future passes" are allowed, for example.

At Erik Anderson's very useful board game site,, he passes on a number of variant rule suggestions to improve the game play:

• Add movement cards to the game, alone or in combination with a die roll.

• End the game after the second bankruptcy.

• Add an auction to bid for turn order.

• A fix for the turn order advantage would be for all players to go once around the board before they can buy properties.

These and more suggestions can be found by searching for "Monopoly variant" on Google. I have, in the past, sped up the game by randomly dealing three properties to each player, which they pay for out of their $1,500. Another way to get in those extra games is to play it online, which speeds up the play by handling all the bookkeeping, if nothing else.

In other Monopoly news, an updated electronic version has been released that does away with cash. Players now have ATM cards they insert into an electric card reader to make and receive payments. Also, instead of $200 for passing Go, players get $2 million. While the lack of counting will remove one of the educational aspects of the game, it also promises to speed up game play and save time.

For those looking for their Monopoly fix in less time, there's Monopoly Express. This is a dice game that lasts under 20 minutes. Players roll to collect houses and properties, and the game comes in a plastic case for storage and portability.

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