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Backgammon Tournaments – Online vs Offline


Although the standard backgammon rules are the same whether you are playing in an online backgammon tournament or in an offline backgammon tournament, there are in fact some noticeable differences (apart from the obvious ones) between the two and this section will take a look at some of the these differences.

Cheating

One of the worst things about backgammon is without a doubt, cheating. There is always a possibility of being cheated and therefore it is also possible for you to cheat. When playing backgammon in a land based venue players can cheat when it comes to scoring, they can also make illegal checkers moves and there is also the possibility of cheating with the dice. Thankfully though, cheating in backgammon is not as common as you would think.

Some of the most refined ways to cheat in offline backgammon is to use what is known as 'loaded dice' and some unscrupulous players have even been caught using magnets in the board. When caught, these players will instantly be banned from the event for their cheating ways.

It's much more difficult to catch cheaters though when participating in an online backgammon tournament. There are certain programs which exist called 'Jellyfish' and 'Snowie' and these programs can assist players in their movements and essentially 'think' for the player. Alternatively, you could be playing against a much weaker player but that player could easily be being helped by a seasoned pro backgammon player. There's just no way of knowing.

You should always play with the attitude that your opponent is playing fairly, but also try to keep in mind that he or she could be cheating. The more you play, the more you will be able to keep an eye out for certain tell-tale signs. When playing online against a player who consistently beats you, your opponent is either an expert backgammon player or there is a possibility that he or she could be cheating. Some of the best backgammon sites (such as TrueMoneyGames, Gamesgrid, Play65 and GammonEmpire for example) have a useful special feature which can save individual game logs.

With this feature, you can replay your moves with the help of Snowie and this will reveal exactly how you played, it will point out your mistakes, plus it will also take a look at your opponents gameplay. Using this is a great way to improve your game. If you find that someone is consistently playing how the computer program suggests, perhaps you should report your findings to the server. If they are caught cheating, they will be dealt with accordingly. Cheaters are rare, but they do exist, so always keep an open mind. Similar cheating systems have also been found in online poker and online solitaire.

Dice

Players have even suggested that online backgammon dice are in some ways rigged or that they have been unfair to them. Players also claim to have witnessed a great number of doubles when playing online backgammon compared to playing offline backgammon, but the simple truth is that the virtual dice produce the same random results online as they would in real life.

When a player loses in such a harsh way, they can often blame it on rigged dice, but when that same player wins in such a way, he or she would certainly not be as quick to complain. If you do think that the dice are in some way producing suspicious results, either stop playing at that site, or treat it as most players do, that the results are as random and fair as can be. Just because sometimes the results seem unfair to you, it doesn't mean to say that the results have been manipulated in any way, this is just how it goes sometimes.

Strategy

Once you have figured out a winning backgammon strategy, we believe that you should stick to this strategy whether you are playing online or offline. Perhaps when you are playing offline backgammon, you may notice that the person you are playing against may have some obvious weaknesses or strengths, therefore you could slightly adjust your strategy accordingly. Otherwise there is no need to change how you play.

For example, your live opponent could appear extremely weak when he or she should takes the cube so you should really take this opportunity to try and double him or her early. This rule can be applied whether you are playing in an online or offline backgammon tournament. Basically, your backgammon strategy should remain the same when playing in online or offline, unless you have some kind of inside-knowledge which you can occasionally obtain from being sat in front of a real player.

Legal Moves

It's not necessary to fret about making illegal moves when playing online backgammon. However when playing live backgammon, you have to pay more attention that you don't make any illegal moves which could be detrimental to your play. In many live backgammon tournaments your opponent can decide whether you must replay your illegal move or let it stand.

This means that you also must carefully watch the moves which your opponent makes because he or she could also make an illegal move which could help him or her win the game. You always have to be on the lookout because players could roll doubles but remove 5 checkers from the board or a player could roll a 4-1 and then make his 5 point just like it were a 3-1, without you spotting the mistake.

Pip Count

The Pip Count is one of the other main differences between online and offline backgammon. When playing online, the servers tend to naturally display your pip count in real time whereas in a live situation you would have to calculate the pips yourself. This fact alone is one of the most difficult transitions to overcome when moving from internet backgammon to land based backgammon.

Only a natural player can rapidly learn to count pips and being able to recall your pip count at any point throughout the game is extremely important. Although it's not so important to be aware of your pip count shortly after the game has begun, the very best players will tell you that it is important to know exactly where you stand in terms of points at any given point.

This is also commonly referred to as 'racing equity'. These same players will also tell you that whether you are way-ahead in terms of pips or far behind, this pip count knowledge alone can have an effect on the type of strategy that you are using.

Summary

To summarise everything that was just covered in this section, the fundamental rule is that you should play exactly the same online as you would offline and vice versa, where possible anyway. Playing online has several advantages and this is mainly thanks to the programs that we mentioned such as Snowie. This software allows you to review your gameplay and learn from your mistakes. This will give you a different perspective on how you can improve the way in which you play, something which you cannot do offline.

The other advice is to try and play as much of both as possible. If you find that you are always playing online, you should try playing offline and if you are only versed in playing online backgammon tournaments, you should definitely start participating in offline backgammon tournaments. The transition is much easier than you would think from one to the other and once you have got used to what each version has to offer, not only will it keep you focussed, but it will also give you more of an edge over your opponents.

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