In 2009 Bjørn Halvard Knappskog won the Monopoly World Championship in Las Vegas, earning himself a whopping $20,000 in the process. At the time, the Norwegian business student was a complete unknown entity within the Monopoly community, but during the final he finished his opponents in less than 40 minutes. Next month he'll be defending his title in Macau, China, where he'll be fending off another 40 opponents. But before that, he's agreed to share his secret strategy.
These are Knappskog's 10 rules to Monopoly. Put your loser mentality behind you, because this guide will help you wipe the smirks right off your friends' faces.
1. Losing is not an option.
Lesson number one is banishing any fears of losing. Block out thoughts like: "if I land on his hotel, I'll still have this much money left,'' or "please no six, no six, no six." Your opponents will smell your fear; playing out your worst fears serves no purpose at all.
2. Keep the cash flowing.
The first phase of the game is the most important. Buy everything you can. It'll give you a better bargaining position later during any negotiation rounds.
3. Don't turn up your nose at the small fry.
Too many amateurs make the mistake of focusing exclusively on the most expensive streets, sitting on their cash until they get the chance to buy Boardwalk. Never do this, by which I mean never! Attaining a monopoly is much more lucrative than buying expensive property on which you can no longer afford to build. Think small to generate a sustainable cash flow. Donald Trump didn't start his career by building Trump Tower, did he?
"Monopoly is not so much about the amount of money you have, as the opportunities you can deprive your opponents of."
4. Later in the game, a few long stretches in jail won't hurt.
The more property that's been bought up by other players, the more attractive it'll be to stay in jail. Earlier in the game, it's in your best interest to pay the bail as soon as possible so you can join the fray in snapping up as much property as you can. Later on, however, you'd be wise to stay in jail as long as you can get away with it. After three rounds you'll be released anyway. See these three rounds as free accommodation, unless you're unlucky enough to roll a double.
5. Build three houses on each street as soon as possible.
The rent you'll receive if you develop your streets by building three houses on them is relatively higher than if you build one, two or four houses. And only develop to a fourth house or hotel if all your streets have three houses.
There is an additional benefit to this strategy. The more houses you buy, the less there will be left for your opponents to buy. If you own 18 houses it means there will only be 14 left for your opponents to chase. The bank cannot sell any houses if there are none left. Monopoly is not so much about the amount of money you have, as the opportunities you can deprive your opponents of.
6. Never buy utility or railway companies.
During the World Championship, we played according to the classic rules, including rounds in which you can swap properties. Now some jerks will try to offload utility or railway companies rather than realty. But don't fall for it; they're not worth the paper they're printed on. Consider this: throughout the whole game you have a measly three percent chance of earning money from them.
7. Learn this heat map by heart.
There's a so-called 'heat map' that shows you what the chances are of landing on a particular spot. In 2009 I didn't take this heat map too seriously, but apparently every Monopoly-professional swears by it because it tells you which properties are the most and least advantageous to buy.
8. Try to get the orange streets.
Statistically speaking, you have the highest chance of landing on these after you get out of jail, which is what makes the orange streets such a great buy. When players get out of jail they invariably land on one of the orange streets. So buy them!
9. Buy everything that's seven squares from your opponents.
During a game of Monopoly, the highest odds are on you throwing a seven, unless you are throwing with just one dice, of course. So always keep an eye on what your opponents occupy on the board and buy or invest in anything that's seven squares away. You can always choose to sell it later on in the game.
10. Say nothing during the game, even when playing against friends.
The only way you can influence and win a game of Monopoly is through playing the odds, and, of course, following my 10 handy tips. The more emotion you show during the game, the bigger your chances are of losing. Take a page out of Harvey Specter's book: only speak if you're asked a question. Otherwise keep quiet, stay cool and wear your best poker (Monopoly) face.
This story originally appeared on Motherboard Netherlands.