How to Vastly Improve Your Scrabble Game
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How to Vastly Improve Your Scrabble Game

Tips to use to improve your Scrabble P.P.T. (points per turn).

A average scrabble player should be averaging at least 20 Points Per Turn (P.P.T.)  I use this per turn average as it is easy to divide your points by total amount of turns and then see if you have improved from the previous game.  Think P.P.T. like P.P.G. in basketball-you know if you are averaging over 25 P.P.T. you are doing pretty good, and if you are averaging more than 30 P.P.T. you should be able to beat most casual scrabble players.  After reading my tips, you should be scoring like Michael Jordan ala 1986-somewhere around 37 P.P.T.

Often when most people think of scrabble, they think that the person with the best vocabulary will always win; however with scrabble a lot of words that are in the scrabble lexicon are completely unknown to even the most well read individual, and when they see what passes as a word in scrabble, they can get visibly angry.  It is always fun to watch.

1.  First, learn at least a few of the two letter "words" which are key for placement on triple letter spots and so on; I.E., if you place a Q on a triple letter score and you have words going both left to right and north to south (say the word QI) then you suddenly have 62 points for placing one letter.  I won't list all the two letter scrabble words here, but they are printed towards the back page in the scrabble instruction book and it is worth knowing a few of the words that contain letters that are worth three points or more.  Below are a few non obvious two letter words that should boost your average P.P.T. by at least 10 if you learn them all:

-QI     -JO     -XI     -XU     -HM     -KI     -KA     -MO     -UH     -UM     -BA     -AX     -AY     -BI     -BA     -AW     -AY     -EF     -EH    -EM     -EF     -MM     -YE     -YO     -WO     -PI     -PE     -OY     -OX     -SH     -OP     -OD     -MY     -MU

Again, there is a lot more two letter words, but these above are the high point two letter words.

2.  It is all about letter placement.  Those triple letter, double word, etc. score squares are lit up with bright color for a reason, and your eyes should be thinking Christmas when it is your turn and you are lucky enough to have a potential big point turn sitting in front of you.

3.  This might be the biggest tip-NEVER focus in on one area of the board or have your heart set on a specific spot-there is a great chance everyone else is looking at that exact same spot and it will be gone by the time your turn comes around.  It happens at least ten times a game and the defeated rookies gasp with lost opportunity sorrow and wallow in their loss, while the novice scrabble player is searching for another spot. Have multiple locations on the board for word placement, and more than one word spelled out on your rack.  That way when your "spot" is filled in with the tiles of another player by the time your turn rolls around, you won't have the inevitable let down.

4.  Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle your tiles on your rack.  There does not have to be order, just start shuffling tiles on your rack, and soon words will start to appear.  Not having luck?  Your not shuffling enough.  There are two areas where shuffling is necessary to the best possible outcome for you-the stingray shuffle on a sandy beach to avoid getting stung, and the tile shuffle in scrabble to avoid missing out on big points.  Either way you get stung if you don't shuffle.

5.  Never use the letter S unless you can get at least 10 points off it by itself- usually by adding it onto another word and at the same time starting another word...OR if you need it to form the elusive scrabble (using all the tiles on your rack).  The S and Blank tiles are invaluable.  They may be worth 1 and 0 points on the surface, but combined with another letter, they can be extraordinary point scorers.  Think of the S and the blank as a material like gunpowder.  By itself it is useless, but with the aid of fire, it is explosive.  This is what an S will do on a scrabble board if used properly-obliterate the competition.

6.  Adding an S or a Blank onto a preexisting word is called a hook and can be done with other letters as well.  For example, if someone has the word rash, you could add a B at the beginning and form the word brash, and then make a word going off the B as well.  These types of points are always on the board, but most are just looking at the places where the S can be added, leaving a lot of potential points on the board.

7.  Don't save letters waiting for the big triple letter that never comes.  I have countless times seen players stubbornly hold onto a Q or Z until the very end, where it ends up hurting them and being subtracted from their total score.

8.  Try to use as many letters as possible each turn unless your rack is loaded with big point letters, For example, don't throw away a Z if it is not included in a double or triple word score or directly on a double or triple letter score.

9.  Replace your letters if they are crap.  My rule of thumb is if I have 6 or more letters that are vowels or 1 point or less, I exchange.  It is better to be hurt for one turn, then to slowly watch your points dwindle because you can only spend a letter or two at a time.  Sure, sometimes you may get similar crappy letters after an exchange, but over a period of time, it is a proven strategy.

10.  This is another very big tip to remember.  Always be looking for parallel words that may match up with the letters you have.  For an example look below:

Say an opponent has laid down the word monkey horizontally like so:

MONKEY

Say you have these letters for your seven:  B,F,A,I,D,E,O     There are quite a few possibilities, but I will lay down the word BANE directly over MONKEY.  This works out if I end the letter E above the N in MONKEY, because all the letters make words north to south as well as the word BANE going left to right.  Look at the words below and you will see in addition to BANE going left to right, there are also the words AM, NO, and EN going north to south.  Big points.

BANE

MONKEY

11.  Learn the two, three, and four letter Q words and you will vastly improve your game; here are a few:  QI, QIS, QAT, SUQ, QUAD, QUAT, QUID, SUQS..

12.  All these tips will improve your game vastly, but the best way to improve I believe is speed scrabble online through the international scrabble club-you may have to google it, but it is a small simple download to procure the hub, and once you make a profile your playing rookies, novices and semi pros like myself.  Playing 3 minute games for each person, (you can also play in any increment over 3 minutes) makes you think quicker and you learn a lot of words from your opponents because you are playing similar skilled players.  Also, as you get better, so do your opponents. There is a numerical rating system for each player and I went from a 400 something rating to over a 1000 in under a year, doubling my game.

13.  Practice makes perfect.

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Comments (3)

Useful!!!

Thank Ya Sir!

Mark

I've been playing Scrabble for several years and average 375 to 525 points per game (my high score is 618).

I agree with most of what you've said, but disagree to some extent with points 8 and 9: more important than using as many letters as you can is getting as many points as you can; in many cases, you can get get more points with two or three letters than you can with five or six letters. Also, it's often wise to go for a move that gives you fewer points than one that gives you more points if you have letters in your hand that are just dead weight -- sacrifice them someplace on the board in the hope that you'll get letters you can use (you often will).

I disagree completely with getting rid of your hand if you have six or more letters worth point -- that's where the bingos are: I'd much rather have N S T L A I E N in my hand than X Z K A Y O J. Now, if six or more are vowels, then go for it, unless you can put down a word like AIOLI or AERIE.

There are many strategies to increase the likelihood of getting bingos that you haven't touched upon, nor have you discussed techniques, and the importance of, defensive Scrabble playing -- I'll often choose, say, a twenty-point move over a thirty or thirty five point move based on what I'm leaving my opponent when my turn ends.

Still, you have some great tips here, especially the importance of the two-letter words, and the importance of Q words (it's extremely helpful to know the Q words that do not require a U).

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