Whenever we are trying to teach someone how to play Scrabble, I find we often talk about what to do or how to play better. Find the hot spots! Learn the words!

Today, let’s talk about what NOT to do.

  • One of the first things I learned when I started to play Scrabble was literally how to start playing the game. If I have a short word to play, do not place it with the vowels next to the 2L squares. You do not want to give your opponent the opportunity to put an X or an H on either side of your vowel to then play horizontally and quadruple the value of that consonant. If you have a bingo or are trying to hit the star and the 2L five spaces away, then your high scoring is probably worth more than opening these 2L spaces. But as a general rule, keep your vowels away from the hot spots.

  • Taking this one step further…try to avoid putting vowels near any hot spot. Don’t open up these opportunities for your opponent unless you are sure you are making more points than your opponent inevitably will.

  • Possibly negating what I just said, don’t be scared to open up the board. Keeping a tight board makes it difficult to play the bingos that you find later in the game. If you open the board, it is open for both you and your opponent.

  • Don’t waste your premium tiles. ZQXJSSSS?? These are your 10 premium tiles. I’ve been told different things over the years about how to use these. Some people think you can use an S for 12 points, others 20 points, others 40 points. Obviously, it all depends on the rest of your rack and what the board looks like. If you have a Q with a bunch of Es, then you might just need to dump the Q for 11 points somewhere. If you have a Z as the last tile on your rack at the end of the game, you may not be able to quadruple this tile. But if you’re in the beginning of a game and you have an S with some other decent tiles, it will likely pay off to hold onto that tile until you find a bingo or an equally strong play.

  • Do not fight through a tough rack. It is no fun having to take zero points for a turn, but it’s even worse taking low scores for multiple turns in a row. If you’re stuck with WWVVUUU or IIIIRZV, it will certainly take you more than two turns to clear your rack of these junk combinations. Bite the bullet, trade your tiles, and move forward. There could be wonderful combinations left for you in the bag.

  • Don’t rush. There’s always time to look at the board one more time. To look for one more play that might earn you one more point. Take your time.

  • Don’t lose focus. While we all know that Scrabble is about words, the end goal is to make the most points.


I hope these few tips help you in your next game. Please let us know which ones specifically have helped you to win or to find more points on the board!


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