A Guide to the Rules of Farkle | Ideal for Beginners with Strategy Tips for Advanced Play.
Variations are Also Known As (AKA): 10000, Dix Mille, Zonk, Zilch
The rules of Farkle are easy to learn and it only requires 6 dice and a piece of paper to keep score. A great game for 2 or more players that combines risk-taking, with strategy and the luck of the dice.
How to Play Farkle
Objective of the Game
The objective of each turn of the game is to roll the dice and accumulate a score that you can then ‘bank’. However, each time you roll, you also risk scoring zero, known as a Farkle!
The highest score above 10,000 on the last round wins.
See below for full instructions including examples.
- Each player starts their turn by rolling all six dice.
- Each roll is trying to have at least one scoring dice that is/are then set aside
- (see below for more details on scoring)
- Players keep a running total of their score, for set aside dice, for the whole of their turn
- HOWEVER, if they have no scoring dice they have ‘Farkled‘
- All points accumulated during that turn are lost!
- Play passes to the next player
- NOTE: Triple Farkles: If a player finishes with a Farkle three turns in a row they lose 1000 points from their score sheet!
Risking playing on…
- If they have set aside at least one dice they can ‘bank’ their running total OR risk the points and roll the remaining dice, hoping to earn further points.
- Banked points are added to the score sheet and play passes to the next player
- If a player is fortunate enough to set aside all six dice, they can choose to roll all six dice again to continue their turn
A players turn continues until they have either banked their points or Farkled, the dice are then passed to the next player.
The easiest way to understand is to follow an example turn, as shown below.
They have rolled a 5 (scores 50) which means they can set it aside and keep playing.
They have rolled triple 3 (scores 300) and a 1 (scores 100). They now have an accumulated score of 50 + 300 + 100 = 450.
They have rolled a 5 (scores 50). Accumulated score 50 + 300 + 100 + 50 = 500
They have now set aside all six dice
so can choose to continue and roll all six dice again.
They have rolled a triple 5 (scores 500). Accumulated score 50 + 300 + 100 + 50 + 500 =1000
Having Accumulated a score of 1000 points they then choose to BANK those points, rather than rolling again and risking losing them all!
They then add 1000 points to their score sheet total.
Scoring in Farkle
In order to set aside dice you must roll one or more of the following:
Notes on Scoring
– Opening your score sheet; at the start of the game a minimum score of 500 points is required before you can bank any points.
– Scoring combinations from the same roll are allowed:
ie If you had a triple 4 (scores 400) and a single 5 (scores 50) for a total of 450 from that roll.
– Each roll is scored independently; you cannot combine dice from different rolls to form scoring combinations.
ie a triple from roll 1 and a triple from roll 2 cannot be counted as two triples.
– You do NOT need to set aside all scoring dice from a roll!
ie If you have rolled a 1 (scores 100) and a 5 (scores 50) you could choose to set aside the 1 but not the 5. That way, when you reroll, you may have more opportunities for a greater score. See Strategy Tips below.
– Triple Farkles: If a player finishes with a Farkle three turns in a row they lose 1000 points from their score sheet!
How to Win at Farkle
The final round is when one player has more than 10,000 banked points at the end of their turn. However, to WIN you need to have the most points at the end of the final round.
Being first to bank 10,000 points doesn’t mean you have won! All the other players can then try and get the highest banked score with their last turn.
These tips will give you an advantage against average Farkle players and give you a good start at matching fellow strategists! If you delve deeper into the probability then even some of these Tips will have conditions when alternative choice might be better!
Tip 1 – Opening your score sheet
As soon as you have enough points (500) to open your score sheet you should ‘BANK’. You will then be able to score on every round while greedier opponents might miss a round or two trying for a larger score.
The only exception would be if you have achieved your 500 points and also set aside all six dice. The chances of getting a Farkle when rolling all six is only ~3% so it would be worth one more roll.
Tip 2 – Fickle Fives or not?
Statistically, a five has a better chance of scoring higher if rerolled with other dice!
Example 1 – You roll : 5, 5, 4, 3, 2
You only have a pair of fives; so you could score 2 x 50 = 100 points
However, having another dice in play (rolling 4 rather than 3 dice) could score a lot more!
Unless the two Fives means you set aside all six dice then you are better off to keep only one of the fives and roll again.
Example 2 – You roll : 1, 5, 5, 3, 6
You could score 100 + 50 + 50 = 200 points
However, setting aside the 1 and rerolling 4 dice is statistically a much better option.
You should therefore only keep a five if you have to!
Tip 3 – Hot Dice Reroll!
If, at any stage, you are lucky enough to have set aside all six dice then you SHOULD roll again.
When you are rolling all six dice it is possible to get a Farkle. However, the odds are definitely in your favor. You have almost a 97% chance of scoring when you roll six dice!
Tip 4 – Avoid the Triple Farkle!
Losing 1000 points due to a third consecutive Farkle is going backwards! Unless you are imminently going to lose then stop as soon as you have any scoring points if you have Farkled on your previous 2 turns.
Tip 5 – Less is More Farkles
The fewer dice you have left to roll, the higher the chances of you rolling a Farkle!
|Number of Dice Rolled||Chance |
of getting a Farkle
Tip 6 – When to Bank and when to Risk it?
Given an average throw during normal play, you can use the odds of various results to help you decide on a playing strategy.
To avoid the complicated maths the team at http://www.dicegamecentral.com/ have summarized the equivalent strategy:
|Number of Dice to roll||Current Score for this turn|
|5||less than 2000|
|4||less than 1000|
|3||less than 500|
|2||less than 400|
|1||less than 300|
If on your current turn you have 450 accumulated points and three dice to reroll you should take the risk.
If however you have 550 accumulated points and three dice to reroll you should ‘Bank’ the points.
That is not saying you should always follow these rules, as it depends on the score sheets, for you and your opposition, but it gives you a good indication.
Tip 7 – Dont always follow the Tips !
When you are playing a dice game, the amount of rolls may seem like a lot but from a probability / statistics standpoint it is actually quite a small sample size.
If you were to sit down and roll six dice for an hour you may only just start to see the expected normal distribution based on the probabilities. During a game you shouldn’t really expect to roll anything that ‘perfectly’ resembles a normal distribution. A ‘hot’ / ‘lucky’ or ‘cold’ / ‘unlucky’ streak of rolls occur commonly. That is why people gamble! Sometimes they can beat the odds and win. Sometimes!
What that means when playing is, for more important rolls you should rely less on the probability and more on the overall stage of the game
If you have accumulated 5000 points and have all six dice to roll at only a 3% chance of a Farkle and everybody else is on zero points…. you should probably Bank! You are already most likely to Win!
Chance / Probabilities of Scoring in Farkle
|Rolling Six Dice||Chance||Probability|
|Three of a Kind||30.9 %||1 in 3.240|
|Four of a Kind||4.8 %||1 in 20.736|
|Three Pairs||3.9 %||1 in 25.92|
|Straight||1.5 %||1 in 64.8|
|Two Triplets||0.6 %||1 in 155.52|
|Five of a Kind||0.4 %||1 in 259.2|
|Six of a Kind||0.01 %||1 in 7776|
What is a Farkle?
Farkle is the name of a popular dice game, played with 6 dice and 2 or more players that combines risk-taking, with strategy and the luck of the dice.
Within the game, a Farkle is when you roll the dice and fail to score any points. All of a players’ accumulated points for that round are lost if they roll a Farkle! They have Farkled.
A Farkle can happen on any roll. i.e On your first roll, when you roll your remaining dice or if you are rolling all six dice again.
What is ‘hot dice’ ? / Rolling all six dice again?
If during your turn you set aside all six dice with scoring combinations, you can then choose to roll all six dice again and continue your turn.
This is sometimes referred to as having ‘hot dice’.
On the players third roll with only one dice they got a 1 which scores 100 points. They had then put aside all six dice. They then decided to roll again (roll 4) with all six dice to try and earn more points. With 1000 points accumulated they then decided to bank the points.
|1||2 3 4 5 6 6||5||50|
|2||1 3 3 3 6||1 3 3 3||100 + 300|
|4||2 4 4 4 5 6||4 4 4 5||400 + 50|
Note: You do not have to roll again, it is a choice.
You can repeat this as many times as you are willing to risk!
Have I missed any killer tips?
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Other strategy games: Mexico Dice or Sprouts. Have you tried them?