We've Been Playing Monopoly Incorrectly For Decades By Disregarding The Official Auction Rule—It Changes The Game

Even though you’ve probably played Monopoly a million times at Christmas, Thanksgiving or some other family gathering, it’s likely that you’ve been doing it wrong your entire life. The culprit? The oft-overlooked auction rule that stipulates that when you land on a property and choose not to buy it, the banker has to auction off the property to the highest bidder.

It’s a reality-shattering revelation, one that calls into question other games and rules. Have you been playing everything wrong? But rest assured that with a few simple tweaks, you can go back to your family armed with the Hasbro rulebook to set things straight. According to Daily Mail, the rule came to people’s attention in 2013 back when a games blogger launched an internet campaign to teach players how to play the game correctly. The blog sparked a huge social media response with Monopoly enthusiasts arguing over the rule.

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But what do the rules actually say? According to Insider, the official rules read: “Whenever you land on an unowned property you may buy that property from the Bank at the printed price[...]If you do not wish to buy the property, the Banker sells it at auction to the highest bidder.” That settles it — apparently we were playing it wrong our entire childhood lives. For countless Monopoly players, this is undoubtedly good news.

A common complaint with Monopoly games — other than the fact that they tear families apart — is that they are just too long. This rule forces at least someone to buy every property that players land on, it forces an auction to take place no matter what. That means that players will buy up the properties much faster than if they were to simply skip over certain properties. Secondly, it adds an extra element of strategy. Since the rule allows the opportunity for auctions, that means that players can plan to buy properties for much less than their stick price. And finally, if it’s not clear in the above rules, the person who lands on the property can also bid in the auction, which means that they can strategically decide not to buy a property they land on, according to Insider.

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In an interview with Daily Mail, Johnny Nexus, the editor of the blog which is running The Campaign For Real Monopoly, said that sticking to the rules is bound to make the game more fun for the above reasons, but also because it “makes the game much more skilful, since it is now more dependent on your ability to trick, bluff and manage the other players.” 

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“Monopoly is something you learn through word of mouth in childhood, like riding a bike or tying your shoelaces,” Nexus said. “Your mother – who never read the rules but was instead taught them by her father – taught you, and one day you will teach your children, again without reading the rules first. She passed on broken rules to you and you’ll pass them on to your kids.”

And with his strict rule orthodoxy, Nexus is trying to change that mistaken, error-ridden oral history with the hope that players will have more fun by playing the game as it’s meant to be played. Whether Nexus’ campaign to follow the rules will stick — well, that’s another question.

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Have you been playing Monopoly wrong your entire life? Will you adopt the official rules or stick to what you know best? Let us know and make sure to pass this on to all your game-loving friends and family members.