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What are Some Good Scrabble Strategies?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The Scrabble brand word game, which involves building words on a board from tiles which have different point values depending on the letter, can be a lot of fun. It can also be extremely competitive, with serious Scrabble players scoring hundreds of points in a game. By learning a few Scrabble strategies, players can increase their point average and also make the game into an enjoyable challenge for all of the players. Scrabble strategies will also improve your logic skills and vocabulary.

One of the most important Scrabble strategies is to look carefully at the board and think about how you can use it to your advantage. In addition to trying to land high value tiles such as the X, Q, or J on a double or triple word score, you should also be thinking about getting those tiles onto double or triple letter scores, and then going for a word bonus, for example. It is also important to think about how your opponent will use the board; although it may seem heartless, one of the most basic Scrabble strategies is setting up the board so that it is difficult for your opponent to place a word. By keeping an eye on how the board is unfolding, you will be able to greatly increase your score.

While you are looking at the board, keep an eye out for hooks, words which can be turned into other words. The most common hook is a word which can have different prefixes, such as “EX-” or “UN-” attached to it, or a word which can be given a new ending, such as “-ES,” “-ED,” or “-ING.” You may also be able to make a compound word such as “TOENAIL.” Using prefixes, suffixes, and compounds effectively is one of the most important Scrabble strategies.

One of the more overlooked Scrabble strategies is moving the letter tiles around in your rack. A jumble of letters such as TELASRI may not look like much, until you look at endings like “-IER,” “-ERS,” “-IST,” and “-IES,”or the prefix “RE-.” Then, words like SALTIER, TAILERS, REALIST, SLATIER, RETAILS, and SALTIRE will begin to pop up. These words are all considered bingos, since they use all of your tiles, and carry a large point bonus along with allowing you to draw seven fresh tiles.

Improving your vocabulary is also a great Scrabble strategy. Start by learning two and three letter words, which can be used to your advantage in every Scrabble game. You may also find it useful to learn Q without U words, as the Q can be one of the most difficult letters in Scrabble. The Q without U words are: qat, qoph, faqir, sheqel, sheqelim, tranq, qanat, qindar, qintar, qwert, and qindarka. Many of these words can also be turned into plurals. Learn archaic, but Scrabble legal, spellings for words, and consider making vocabulary flash cards to beef up your word knowledge.

One of the Scrabble strategies employed heavily by professional Scrabble players is tile tracking. By being aware of how many tiles are in play and how many are left, you can have a better idea of how the board will shape up, and you can predict which letters you might draw. Tile tracking will give you an edge, especially against a player who does not use it. It is also important to use your tiles wisely. The “S” and the blank are two of the most valuable tiles in the game, although their face values are one point and zero, respectively. Each can be used, however, to make a bingo or hook to another word. Try not to use either of these tiles on a play which will score less than 15 points unless you absolutely have to.

Finally, while you are tracking tiles and moving tiles around in your rack, try to cycle out high value letters which cannot be used effectively in bingos, like the J. Most bingos are made from letters with low face values, but you can score a hefty amount of points by making a bingo with an “EX-” prefix, or by using a “Q” creatively. Try to maintain a balance of useful tiles in your rack, and constantly search for new connections and words; never settle for your gut instinct when making a move in Scrabble, as the next word you think of may have a higher point value. Employ all of these Scrabble strategies for a fast paced, high scoring game, and happy Scrabbling!

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Sports n' Hobbies researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ScrabbleHlpr — On Aug 06, 2012

Scrabble is not about competition; it's about kudos. My favorite strategy to achieve this effect is to set up the board with words like marijuana, establishment, iteration and deuterium, laid out in simulation of a mega game and then laugh when your friends comment on it.

By anon232038 — On Nov 28, 2011

One strategy I like to use in Scrabble is to build up and out from the existing words whenever possible. This puts me in a position to start earning double and triple word scores much faster in the game. Adding prefixes or suffixes or "S" to the existing words is useful, but the board can get really clogged if someone doesn't start building out. I also like to start out with base words that can easily be added to later if I have no other options. It's nice to have an "out" with an "S" or prefix/suffix instead of having to rely on two and three letter words at the end of the game.

By anon214560 — On Sep 15, 2011

In Scrabble, if we can place words on the board only if it connects an already laid word on the board, then how do we place all seven letters from the rack to form a bingo word, like saltier? Please explain. Is it that we can place a seven letter word on the board, even if it does not connect to other words on the board?

By anon189225 — On Jun 22, 2011

you have no choice but to swap.

By anon169782 — On Apr 22, 2011

How do you handle situations like I've had too often not to ignore: In multiple games in a row (so far, this run is four in a row), I have had 95 percent single point tiles: five or six vowels(usually) two to three I's and a couple of R's or T's. Swapping my tiles nets me the same junk except I lose a turn.

Draw after draw, I end up with the single pointers, while my opponent( and we are serious opponents) comes up with h"and F's, etc., etc., etc.

It's frustrating and getting me angry- law of averages says it can't happen game after game, but it does! My saving grace is that i have learned to take advantage of playing off of my opponents' high point tiles.

The game remains fairly competitive for a while, but I can score only so much with single pointers. Help. How does anyone deal with this?

By sapphire12 — On Jan 20, 2011

When I play scrabble, one of my methods is to try to use the triple and double word score boxes before someone else. Especially because they are in the corners of the board, it can be very difficult to tag onto these later, and in the scrabble official rules, you are not able to get the same bonus twice from the same square. I do this even if I do not have a great word, because it prevents other players from using it later for something better.

By glow — On Apr 22, 2008

this is a very useful article for people that want to improve their skills. i've been playing in online tournaments and used to always come in last. after using some of these strategies i've actually started beating some people! thanks so much.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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