How to Play Monopoly: Mastering the Art of Property Acquisition

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Monopoly may not be held in high regard by avid board gamers, yet regardless of personal opinions, it left a mark in the realm of board games as one of the pioneering modern classics. While it has a rich history spanning nearly 90 years, many players still grapple with the rules and often even invent new ones. 

To spare you from potential headaches during your next family gathering when someone enthusiastically suggests playing a game or two, we are going to explain how to play Monopoly correctly. Additionally, we will address some of the most commonly misinterpreted rules. 

Why Are Monopoly House Rules Bad?

Monopoly house rules, which are unofficial rules created by players by accident or intent, can present challenges during gameplay. These rules vary from group to group and have often led to inconsistencies, misunderstandings, and disputes. This can affect the fairness and competitiveness of the game. 

Moreover, they might prolong the duration of an already lengthy game, making it even longer than the standard gameplay. If you want to play Monopoly faster, it’s best to ditch the house rules and stick to the official ones to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience. 

The most popular house rules for Monopoly are:

  • Free Parking Jackpot: When a player pays a fee or tax, the money is placed in the center of the board. If a player lands on Free Parking, they collect the accumulated money.
  • Double Salary for Landing on Go: When a player lands directly on the Go space, they collect double the normal salary ($400).
  • No Auctions: Properties that are not purchased when landed upon are not auctioned off, and they remain unowned.
  • Complete Loop Requirement: Players must complete an entire loop around the board before they are eligible to purchase any property.
  • Building Limit: A limit is set on the number of houses or hotels that can be built on a property, or the building rules are ignored altogether, allowing players to build as they see fit.
monopoly dice and player pieces
Not according to the rules, but still impressive.

How To Set Up a Monopoly Board Game

Begin by unfolding the game board and placing it on a flat surface within reach of all players. Separate the Chance and Community Chest cards into two decks, ensuring they are face-down. Everyone then selects a player token. If players can’t agree on who’ll play as a car token, then roll to decide who picks first. 

One player is chosen to be the banker and deals each player their Monopoly start money of $1,500 as specified in the game’s instructions. The specific banknotes allocated to each player for the Monopoly board are as follows:

  • 5 x $1 notes
  • 1 x $5 note
  • 2 x $10 notes
  • 1 x $20 note
  • 1 x $50 note
  • 4 x $100 notes
  • 2 x $500 notes

In 2008, the total amount of Monopoly money present in the box increased from $15,140 to $20,580. Because of it, editions printed before 2008 had the same amount allocated to each player but in different denominations. For pre-2008 sets, the allocation is as follows: 

  • 5 x $1 notes
  • 5 x $5 notes
  • 5 x $10 notes
  • 6 x $20 notes
  • 2 x $50 notes
  • 2 x $100 notes
  • 2 x $500 notes

Finally, place all player tokens on the “Go” space on the board, and then, proceeding clockwise, start rolling the dice.

Official Monopoly Rules

If you want to avoid imbalancing the game, strategies favoring certain properties over others, and generally prolonging matches, avoid house-ruling things and stick to the official Monopoly rules. Don’t be like real-life monopolies, trying to bend the rules to your liking. It may seem like it’s in the spirit of capitalism, but it’s not. After all, if you are the one organizing the game night, you want to make sure that everyone is having fun. So let us familiarize ourselves with the official Monopoly rules, shall we? 

Rolling Double in Monopoly

Rolling doubles in Monopoly can be a game-changer! When a player rolls two dice, and they show the same number, it’s called rolling doubles. This allows the player to take an additional turn after resolving their current one, which can be a significant advantage.

Not only do you get to move again, but you also do all the actions associated with the field you land on. So this can technically allow you to buy multiple properties in a single turn, collect a chance or community chest card, and, if you are really unlucky and the game has gone on for some time already, pay rent multiple times.

However, there’s a catch! If a player rolls doubles three times in a row on their turn, they don’t get to take another turn. Instead, they find themselves in a bit of a jam as they are caught speeding, and must go directly to jail – no passing Go, no collecting $200! Essentially, their luck has run out, and they ended up on the wrong side of the law.

Monopoly Jail Rules

Ending up in jail might seem like bad luck, but sometimes, going to jail can be a clever move. While in jail, a player is safe from paying rent, landing on opponents’ properties, and other potential hazards on the board. It’s like taking a brief vacation from the competitive hustle and bustle. So it’s a good thing when it happens later in a game, but an extremely bad thing when it happens early on. 

There are three ways you can leave the jail space

Pay to Get Out: If you’re eager to get back in the game, you can pay a $50 fine to leave jail immediately. Consider it a small price to pay to regain your freedom and continue your property acquisition plans. Place your token on the Just Visiting space, and you immediately take your turn as if nothing happened. 

Use the “Get Out of Jail Free Card”: If the player possesses a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, they can use it immediately to escape jail without having to pay the $50 fine or roll the dice. It’s like having a secret escape route planned in advance, and it can be a game-saver at the beginning of the game. If you use the card, you may resume your turn as if nothing happened and the prison will become just a distant memory. 

Alternatively, players can hold onto the card and wait for a more opportune moment to use it or sell it to another player. For how much can you sell a “Get Out of Jail Free Card?” That is up to the players to agree upon, but since the fine is $50, it’s probably less than that. You can’t sell the card to the bank since the card itself has no value

monopoly go to jail field
Bad dog!

Roll for Freedom: Alternatively, you can try rolling doubles on your turn to break free. If you succeed, you move the number of spaces shown on the dice and take another turn. Just remember that fishing for doubles does not always guarantee a successful escape, as you only have three chances. If you fail to roll doubles after the third attempt, you’ll have to pay the $50 fine and move for however much in total you got on your third unsuccessful roll. 

While in jail, you can still interact with all the properties you own and collect rent from other players when they are unfortunate enough to land on them, and also build any houses and hotels on them you can afford. 

Note that you only end up in jail if you are caught speeding, land on the “Go to Jail” space, or draw a “Go to Jail” card. You never collect $200, even if you pass Go on your way to jail. If you land on a jail space by a simple roll of the dice, you are not imprisoned and can continue playing without problems.

Passing Go in Monopoly

Whenever a player’s token passes over or lands directly on the “Go” space, they receive a $200 salary from the bank. However, it’s essential to clarify that players don’t receive any extra money for landing directly on “Go” itself unless they use a popular house rule earning double instead of nothing by landing on the “Go” space directly.). That said, we’d avoid this rule as it only prolongs the game.

Free Parking Monopoly Rule

The original official rules of Monopoly don’t include any special benefits or rewards for landing on the “Free Parking” space. This is the place where you can land with your token without fear of paying anyone anything. 

However, many players have adopted the “Free Parking Jackpot” house rule, where any fees or taxes paid throughout the game are collected and placed in the center of the board. When a player lands on the “Free Parking” space, they receive the accumulated money as a jackpot. The game of Monopoly can be long even without any house rules, so there is no need to start giving free money around, as it just needlessly prolongs the game and makes it unbalanced. 

Chance and Community Chest Spaces

Chance and Community Chest spaces are two special spaces on the game board that offer players opportunities to draw cards from the respective decks. When a player’s token lands on one of these spaces, they must draw the top card from the corresponding deck and follow the instructions on the card.

Chance cards typically present various scenarios that can have both positive and negative outcomes. For example, a player may be instructed to advance to a certain property on the board, pay or receive money, or even go directly to jail.

monopoly community chest cards
There is always a chance you will be the one to win.

Community Chest cards also present a mix of events that can impact the player’s position in the game. They might receive money for various reasons, be required to pay fines or taxes, or receive a Get Out of Jail Free card, which can be used later to escape from jail without paying a fee.

Landing on Unowned Property

When a player lands on an unowned property, they have the opportunity to purchase it from the bank at the listed price on the title deed card. If the player decides not to buy the property, it goes up for auction immediately.

During the auction, all players have the chance to bid on the property, including the player who landed on it. The highest bidder wins the property and must pay the bid amount to the bank. There is no set minimum or maximum amount for auctions. The players bid until there is only one player with the highest bid. In the rare event that nobody wants the property, the title deed card is returned to the bank.

monopoly unowned property
A little tank engine that could start its own monopoly. Has Thomas gone too far this time? 

The auction rule ensures that all properties are eventually purchased, keeping the game dynamic and competitive. It also adds an element of excitement and strategy, as players can compete to get valuable properties at potentially lower prices than the original listing.

Landing on Owned Property

When you land on a property owned by another player in Monopoly, you must pay rent to the owner. The amount of rent you pay is determined by the property’s deed card, which specifies the rent based on whether the property has houses or hotels built on it. If the owner doesn’t have any buildings but owns all the properties of a certain color, it allows them to charge double rent when someone lands on unimproved properties. 

If the property has been improved with houses or a hotel, the rent will be even higher than for properties without improvements. Rent payments can vary significantly based on the property’s development level. Rent can only be paid with cash. You can’t give out properties as rent payments. 

The rent you pay is a way for the owner to generate income from their properties, making it an essential aspect of building wealth in a Monopoly. Landing on an opponent’s property can be costly, especially if you land on a highly improved property with hotels. So be sure to build your own properties and repay them in kind. 

Building Houses and Hotels in Monopoly

Building houses and hotels is a strategic aspect of the game that can significantly enhance your property value and rental income. When a player owns all the property in the same color group, they can start building houses on it. The cost of building a house varies depending on the property’s color group, and you can have up to four houses on one property. Once you’ve improved a color group evenly with houses, you can upgrade one house to a hotel by paying the additional cost.


Evenly building houses means distributing an equal number of houses among the properties in a single color group. In Monopoly, you can’t build more houses on one property while others in the same color group have none or fewer houses. For example, if you own all three properties in the orange color group, you must first build one house on each of them before you can build a second house on any of them.

The concept of even development ensures that all properties within a color group contribute equally to the rent increase for opponents when they land on any property within that group. This strategy prevents players from concentrating houses on one property to create a rent supercharger while leaving others less valuable.

Once you’ve fully populated a color group evenly with houses, you can upgrade them to a hotel by paying the additional cost. Hotels fully replace four houses and substantially increase the rent opponents must pay when landing on your properties. Only one hotel may be built on a property

monopoly boardwalk
Hmm, something is odd with this picture, isn’t it?

If the bank is left without houses, the player has to wait until one of the players sells theirs or upgrades to a hotel.

Mortgaged Properties in Monopoly

Mortgaging properties is a common practice if a player is looking for extra cash to upgrade another property or to keep themselves afloat. Mortgaging can be done at any point, even on another player’s turn. 

When a property is mortgaged, the owner can borrow money from the bank by placing the property’s deed card face down and receiving the mortgage value, which is half of the property’s purchase price. You can only mortgage unimproved properties (without any buildings). If the property has any buildings, they have to be sold to the bank for half the price paid for them. 

Keep in mind that if you own a set of properties with the same color, let’s say with two houses each, and decide to mortgage one of the properties, you’ll need to sell houses on the other properties to maintain a more-less even distribution of buildings. In this scenario, you would end up with one house on the remaining properties and none on the mortgaged one. 

Mortgaged property cannot generate rental income, and the owner cannot develop it with houses or hotels, but the owner can still charge double rent on un-mortgaged properties if they own all the other tiles with the same color.

To lift the mortgage, the owner must repay the mortgage value plus a 10% interest fee to the bank. In newer editions, the total is written on the tile cards and won’t require any math. 

Monopoly Trade Rules

Trading is a vital aspect of the game that allows players to exchange properties, cash, and special cards like “Get Out of Jail Free.” Players have the freedom to initiate trade discussions at any time during the game, even when it’s not their turn.

The tradeable items include properties, railroads, utilities, and cash. Players can negotiate deals to enhance their position on the board and complete color groups or strategic goals.

monopoly closure
Going to the highest bidder.

However, there are some restrictions on trading. Houses cannot be traded, and properties with houses on them must be sold back to the bank before initiating a trade. Players also can’t trade cash for cash directly. For example, one player can’t offer $100 to another player and get $5 in return. The game doesn’t allow players to willingly give money to another player or provide them with a loan, either. However, players can negotiate trades that involve cash to help cover rent payments or other financial needs. You can’t pay rent with a property, though – only with cash. 

The players can offer to sell or buy mortgaged properties for an agreed-upon value. However, an important rule is that the player receiving the property must immediately pay 10% interest on the mortgage value to the bank. If they do not choose to unmortgage the property by paying the rest of the outstanding mortgage value, they will have to pay the mortgage value plus another 10% in interest on a future turn when unmortgaging.

Even while in Jail, players can participate in trading, making it a dynamic and interactive element of the game that can significantly influence the outcome and strategy of each player’s financial conquest in Monopoly.

Losing the Game – Bankruptcy

When a player is unable to raise enough money to pay, they are declared bankrupt. If the player goes bankrupt because they are unable to pay the bank, the bank seizes all of their possessions. All the seized properties are immediately auctioned off to the remaining players. If the bankrupt player has mortgaged property, it would be auctioned off unmortgaged. 

If the player cannot pay another player, the latter takes possession of all the properties of the now-bankrupt player. Buildings on the properties are sold for half their value, and the money is given to the creditor. Mortgaged properties are transferred to the new owner following the same rules as for trading mortgage property. The new owner must pay 10% interest on each mortgaged property to the bank and can choose to unmortgage them immediately or leave them as they are. If they opt to keep them mortgaged, they will need to pay an additional 10% when they decide to unmortgage them.

Winning the Game – Total Monopoly 

To win a game of Monopoly, one player has to achieve total monopoly by being the last one remaining with money and properties. This means successfully bankrupting all other players through strategic property acquisitions, rent collection, and skillful trading.

Throughout the game, players must keep a keen eye on their opponents’ financial situations, capitalizing on opportunities to trade or acquire properties that complete sets and potential monopolies. A winning strategy involves balancing investments in properties, houses, and hotels while keeping enough cash on hand to manage expenses and unforeseen events

Conclusion

Monopoly is one of the most popular board games in the world and, at the same time, probably one of the board games that started the most family fights, including one in the British Royal household.

To this day, both classic versions of Monopoly continue to be printed, while new editions are regularly launched. The ongoing production and release of the game by Hasbro is a testament to its enduring popularity. Without a demand for it, the company would not invest in its continued production. And yet, after more than 85 years, they are still doing it.
While not as widely embraced within the board gaming community, Monopoly retains its status as a popular family board game in various parts of the world, despite its notorious reputation for occasionally stirring up conflicts. Now that you know how to play Monopoly, maybe you want to give it another chance. No? Fully understandable.

FAQ

  1. How much do you start with in Monopoly?

    Depending on the version of the game, there may be different annotations of bills, but you always start with $1,500 in total.

  2. How much 500 do you start with in Monopoly?

    Each player will start with two $500 bills.

  3. What is the goal of Monopoly?

    The goal of Monopoly is to be the last player remaining in the game with money and properties, making others bankrupt in the process.