Farkle is a Jeopardy-type dice game, where players attempt to roll specific numbers in order to add to their score.
Like in any dice game in the Jeopardy genre, players can continue to roll in the hopes of increasing their score. However, Players who fail to “lock in” their score by rolling again stand to lose it all!
Farkle is commonly played as a home game, played for minor stakes (such as bragging rights), and usually intended as an activity for family or friends.
How to Play Farkle?
Being a home game, there are many variations and “house rules”. Since it would be unfeasible to list every possible combination of rules, this article will be concerned with the most basic, common rules of Farkle.
As it is intended as a home game, the materials used can be ad hoc. Most usually, the things needed can be found in any home. Simply put, all one needs for a game of Farkle is two or more Players, and:
- Six 6-sided Dice.
- Pen or Pencil and Paper
The aim of the game in Farkle is to be the first Player to reach 10,000 points. Each scoring dice is valued differently, with the full list of valid scoring dice available in the “Scoring” section below.
Deciding Who Goes First
Players should each roll two dice at the start of the game. The Player with the highest roll will take the first turn of the game.
If there is a tie, those tying Players shall roll their dice again, until one has a higher roll than the others. Subsequent turns will follow from this Player in a clockwise fashion.
- The Player taking the first turn will gather all six of the dice, and roll them.
- Players receive scores for individual 1s, and 5s, or from sets of three dice that are the same number (Such as three 4s).
Players may set aside Dice that have scored after each throw.
For example, suppose that there were two 1s rolled. Then the Player shall, if they wish, set aside those two dice and tally their score in the Player’s “running total”.
Players can continue to roll their remaining dice that have not been set aside. Continuing from the previous example, the Player would be able to roll the remaining four dice.
Players can choose to stop rolling after each roll, and “lock in” their running total. Locking in the running total ends the Player’s turn, and converts their running total into their “Score.”
However, if a Player makes a roll and does not achieve any scoring dice, then they will be “Farkled” and lose their whole running total as well as ending their turn.
Conversely, if a Player manages to score with all six dice, either on one roll or in multiple rolls, they have “Hot Dice.” The scores are added to the running total, and Players are once again allowed to roll with the full complement of dice.
The process here repeats, with Players removing scoring dice from Play until they lock in their score, Farkle, or roll another set of Hot Dice.
End of Turn
Once a Player’s turn has ended, they lock in their running total as it is. If they Farkled, their running total is 0. Otherwise, their running total is added to their Score, and the six dice are passed to the next Player.
That Player repeats the same process on their turn, passing the dice to the next Player, and so on.
Ending the Game
Players win the moment they lock in a running total that will bring their Score to or above 10,000 points. Players that Farkle, even if their running total had been enough to win the game, will instead lose their running total and skip their turn.
Players can adjust this point total to make a longer or shorter game, though it is recommended to adjust the score threshold in increments of 1,000.
Players receive a Score by locking in their running total. A running total is only officially added to a Player’s score once they officially lock it in.
This is what makes Jeopardy dice games so exciting. The thrill of running a high total, and then the crash of losing it all on a Farkle.
“Scoring Dice” as they have been referred to above, are any individual 1 or 5, or groups of three dice that are all matching numbers. Each of these is scored differently, and Players are given the choice of whether they want to count their 1s and 5s individually, or use them in groups of three for a higher score.
A table is provided immediately below, giving the values of each valid scoring individual die, or dice combination:
|Scoring Dice||Score Value|
|Individual Die (1)||100 Points per scored dice|
|Individual Die (5)||50 Points per scored dice|
|Three-Kind of 1s||1000 Points|
|Three-Kind of 2s||200 Points|
|Three-Kind of 3s||300 Points|
|Three-Kind of 4s||400 Points|
|Three-Kind of 5s||500 Points|
|Three-Kind of 6s||600 Points|
Farkle Rules Summary
A quick summary of the game rules can be found below:
- Players roll dice, and keep the scoring dice from those rolls and setting them aside. Players are free to roll their remaining dice and continue to score.
- If Players score with all six dice, they have “Hot Dice” and roll again. If Players score no dice, then they have “Farkled” and lose their score.
- Players may not “add together” rolls. For example, if a Player scores a 1 individually on their first roll, and then two 1s individually in their next roll, those dice do not combine into a 1000-point three-kind of 1s, they are instead worth the 300 points of individually scored 1s.
- Players may combine dice from the same roll. For example, a Player could roll 4 dice, and receive an individual 1 and a three-kind of 2s, and score them both at the same time as well as receiving Hot Dice.
- Players take turns until one of them locks in a score of (usually) 10,000 points. That Player becomes the winner the instant their running total is locked in as a score over 10,000.
Imagine that it is your turn in a game of Farkle. On your first throw, you receive the following six dice:
2 – 3 – 5 – 2 – 6 – 3
An unfortunate first roll! The 2s and 3s nearly became a Three-Kind, but neither paid off. All hope is not lost though. With a single 5 to score as an individual for 50 points in the running total, you are able to roll again! Rolling then five remaining dice yields:
1 – 6 – 6 – 5 – 3
Another failure to match three together, but there are individual 1s and 5s to score. Here comes the difficult choice: Should you score the 1 and 5 for 150 points, or score only one of them and roll the extra die?
- By scoring them both, you could lock in 200 points or roll three dice in the hopes of a three-kind or an individual 1 or 5.
- By scoring only the 1, for 100 points, however, you would be given an additional die to roll. Although the guaranteed score is lower, the odds of scoring again are increased.
This is the risk vs. reward of a Jeopardy game. Players should always be asking themselves “Should I stay, or should I push my luck?”
Strategy and Tips
Using Ones and Fives
Using your 1s and 5s individually may seem foolish, as they gain far less score, but sometimes it is the better play to make. By taking the 1s and 5s individually, you may be able to roll more dice on subsequent roll.
A group of three 5s is only 500 points. By only scoring one of the 5s, you could then roll all 5 dice for a potentially better roll, or even Hot Dice.
One of them will have to be scored, in order to avoid a Farkle. This does not apply to a three-kind of 1s. That is the largest scoring dice combination possible, and should always be kept.
Hot Dice Strategy
Always take the subsequent roll if you get the Hot Dice, unless you have a very high running total. The odds of Farkling when rolling the full complement of Dice are very low.
Unless you have a running total of 1,000 or more, always roll when you get Hot Dice.
Read more about advanced strategy here.
Is Farkle similar to Yahtzee?
While both games have a poker-like scoring system, they have several differences.
Farkle depends purely on luck with dice rolls, while Yahtzee requires some skill in choosing which dice to hold. Yahtzee has more strategy since players pick the scoring category after rolling.
Can you play Farkle by yourself?
Sort of. There is a single-player version called Farkle Solo where you roll dice for 10 turns, following the normal scoring rules to earn points. But the regular game needs at least two players to compete together.
With how many people can you play Farkle?
The game can be played with at least 2 players. While there is no hard maximum, we suggest playing with 3 to 8 people for the best possible experience.
What happens if you Farkle 3 times?
Farkling thrice consecutively results in a penalty. But the precise amount lost differs based on the house rules. The most common is either a 500 or 1000-point deduction.