How to play Monopoly: Step-by-step instructions, rules and more

First created in the 1900s, Monopoly was known as The Landlord’s Game and reflected “the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences,” according to the Guardian. Since then, Monopoly has become a staple and is recognized as the most popular board game by Guinness World Records.

From its famous original to various themed incarnations, such as Marvel, Hello Kitty and Animal Crossing, Monopoly has one objective in mind: win by becoming the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property.

If you’re looking to make bank and have your sights on Boardwalk and Park Place, here’s what you need to know on how to play Monopoly and other information about the game.

First created in the 1900s, Monopoly was known as The Landlord

Just Curious: We’re here to answer your everyday questions.

What comes in a Monopoly game?

Monopoly can be played with just two or up to eight players. A typical Monopoly game can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how many players.

To get started, you need a Monopoly board and its corresponding pieces. According to Hasbro, each Monopoly game set includes:

  • A game board
  • Eight tokens
  • 28 title deed cards
  • 16 Chance cards
  • 16 Community Chest cards
  • 32 houses
  • 12 hotels
  • Two dice
  • Monopoly money pack
  • Instructions

First, place the board on a table or flat surface. Then, set the Chance and Community Chest cards on their respective spots on the board. From there, each player will select their respective token which they will use to move around the board.

What are the game pieces in Monopoly?

There are eight tokens, or game pieces, used in Monopoly. In the standard game, the tokens are:

  • Top hat
  • Battle ship
  • Race car
  • Scottie dog
  • Cat (Hazel)
  • Rubber ducky
  • Penguin
  • Thimble

In 2017, the thimble was replaced by the T-Rex after more than 4.3 million votes were sent in to replace the game piece, as well as to change the boot and wheelbarrow to a rubber ducky and penguin, according to CNN. However, after the “Throwback Token Vote,” the T-Rex is now extinct while the thimble is back. An updated version including the new thimble will hit shelves in fall 2022.

From its famous original to various themed incarnations, such as Marvel and Hello Kitty, Monopoly has one objective in mind: win by becoming the wealthiest player through buying, renting and selling property.

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How much money do you start with in Monopoly?

At the start of each game, players begin with $1,500 in Monopoly money, according to the official game instructions. The currency is broken down into:

  • Two $500s
  • Two $100s
  • Two $50s
  • Six $20s
  • Five $10s
  • Five $5s
  • Five $1s

The remainder of bills go to the bank with one player acting as the banker, who is in charge of divvying up money and collecting fees. The banker must keep their personal funds separate from the bank. If there are more than five players, the banker may choose to act only as the banker and auctioneer, opting to not play.

Along with money, the bank also holds the Title Deed cards, houses and hotels. The banker auctions the properties to other players and gives them the corresponding deed cards, as well as sells houses and hotels and loans money for required mortgages. The bank also collects taxes, fines, loans and interest when players are asked to pay.

According to the official instructions, the bank never “goes broke,” and if it does run out of money, the banker can issue as much as needed by making more on regular paper.

Read more: How much money you should actually be starting with in Monopoly

How to play Monopoly

To officially start the game, each player will roll the pair of dice, starting with the banker. Whoever has the highest total will be the first player, and the remaining players will rotate to the left.

All players must set their token on the corner marked “GO.” Then, each person takes turns rolling the dice and moving their token in the direction of the indicated arrows. The tokens remain on the landed spaces until their next turn, proceeding forward once they roll again. Two or more tokens can be on the same space at the same time.

Depending on the space your token lands on, you have the option to buy real estate or other properties, as well as pay rent or taxes, draw a Chance or Community Chest card and even “Go to Jail.” If you throw doubles three times in a row, a player must move their token “In Jail.”

Keep alternating turns until one player is the wealthiest of the group, leaving all other players bankrupt.

Monopoly Based on the map of Atlantic City, New Jersey, the classic game of Monopoly has players scramble to buy land and eventually develop houses and hotels. Players aim to take control of the board and drain their opponents of money. There have been countless Monopoly spinoffs, adapting the board to everything from university towns to "Star Wars." The game can be played online with friends and strangers or alone against the computer.

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Monopoly rules, explained

Each time a player makes their way around the board and lands on or passes GO, the banker pays them $200. The $200 is paid for every complete pass of the board, meaning if a player passes GO twice in a game, they collect $200 twice, $400 in total.

If a player passes GO and lands on either the Community Chest or Chance space in the same turn, drawing the “Advance to GO” card, the player collects a total of $400: $200 for passing initially and another $200 for a second time by the instructions on the card.

The Community Chest and Chance cards are drawn when a player lands on the respective spaces. Once pulled, the player must follow the instructions on the card and return it to the bottom of the deck.

The coveted “Get Out of Jail Free” card is held until used and then returned like the other cards. A player can choose to sell the “Get Out of Jail Free” card instead of using it.

When your token lands on free parking, nothing happens. This is just a “free” resting place.

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Understanding Monopoly jail and how to get out

You may land in jail for one of three reasons, according to Monopoly rules:

  • Your game piece lands on the “Go to Jail” space
  • You draw a card marked “Go to Jail”
  • You roll doubles three times in a row

When you head to jail, you do not collect $200, even if you pass GO to get to the space.

If your piece lands in the actual Jail space during the course of a game without being sent there, you are “Just Visiting.” There is no penalty for this and move forward on your next turn.

A player can get out of jail in multiple ways:

  • Throwing doubles on any of your next three turns. If you do this, you move the amount of spaces rolled
  • Using a “Get Out of Jail Free” card
  • Purchasing a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from another player
  • Paying a fine of $50 before you roll on either of your next two turns

If you do not roll doubles by your third turn while in jail, you must pay a $50 fine. After, you are officially out of jail and then proceed the number of spaces rolled.

While a player is in jail, you can still buy and sell property, buy and sell houses and hotels and collect rents.

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Buying property, paying rent and more

When your token lands on an unowned property, you may purchase the property for its price. The banker will give you the Title Deed card and place the card face up in front of you.

If you do not want to purchase the property, the banker can choose to auction it. Bidding can start at any price and all players, including the one who initially declined to buy it, can bid. The highest bidder pays the agreed amount and receives the deed card.

When you land on a property you do not own, you must pay “Rent.” The rent amount is specified on the Title Deed card and you must pay it to the property owner.

If the property is mortgaged, no rent is collected. A property is mortgaged if the Title Deed card is facedown in front of the owner.

If you own all the Title Deed cards of a color group, the owner can charge double the rent for unimproved properties. In a standard U.S. Monopoly game, the color sets and prices are:

  • Brown: Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue ($60 each)
  • Light Blue: Oriental Avenue and Vermont Avenue ($100 each), Connecticut Avenue ($120)
  • Pink: St. Charles Place and States Avenue ($140 each), Virginia Avenue ($160)
  • Orange: St. James Place and Tennessee Avenue Price ($180 each), New York Avenue ($200)
  • Red: Kentucky Avenue and Indiana Avenue ($220 each), Illinois Avenue ($240)
  • Yellow: Atlantic Avenue and Ventnor Avenue ($260 each), Marvin Gardens ($280)
  • Green: Pacific Avenue and North Carolina Avenue ($300 each), Pennsylvania Avenue ($320)
  • Dark Blue: Park Place ($350) and Boardwalk ($400)

If the owner of a property forgets to ask for rent before a second player rolls the dice, they do not collect payment.

Unimproved properties, railroads and utilities can be sold from player to player for any price. However, no property can be sold if there are buildings on it or any spaces of the same color set. If you wish to sell an improved property or any property of its same color set, you must sell the buildings back to the bank.

When your token lands on an unowned property, you may purchase the property for its price. The banker will give you the Title deed card and place the card face up in front of you.

How do the houses and hotels work in Monopoly?

Each Monopoly game set comes with 32 houses and 12 hotels which can be purchased to place on properties to increase rent.

Once a player owns all the properties in a color set, they can buy houses to place on the board space. After placing a house on a space, the next one you purchase must go on a different unimproved property of the same color group or any other complete set you own.

The new rent price will be indicated on the Title Deed card. Even if there is not a house on a space, the player who lands on it must still pay double rent if another property of the same color set does have a house.

You can buy as many houses as you wish to put on a property so long as you follow the aforementioned rules.

When a player has four houses on each property of a color group, they can opt to purchase a hotel and put it on one of the properties. The four houses from that space are given back to the bank, and the player pays the banker for the hotel as specified by the Title Deed card. Only one hotel can be placed on one property at a time.

If there are no more houses available, players can choose to sell or return their houses to the bank. If there are a limited number of houses and hotels and two or more players are looking to buy more than what is available, the buildings can be sold at auction to the highest bidder.

When sold back to the back, houses and hotels are half the price they were initially paid for. Houses must be sold one at a time in the reverse order they were purchased. For example, before selling a house on Park Place, you must sell your houses on Boardwalk first. All hotels on the same color group can be sold at once.

How do you mortgage properties in Monopoly?

The mortgage value of a property is printed on its Title Deed card. An unimproved property can be mortgaged at any time. In order for an improved property to be mortgaged, all the buildings of the color set must be sold back to the bank.

If a property is mortgaged, the owner does not collect rent. However, rent is paid for unmortgaged properties of the same color group.

To remove a mortgage, the property owner must pay the specified amount and 10% interest to the bank. Once all the properties of a color set are no longer mortgaged, the player can begin to buy back the houses and hotels at full price.

A player can sell its mortgaged property to another for any agreed price. If you are the new owner, you can remove the mortgage by paying it off plus the 10% interest. If the mortgage cannot be paid in full, you must pay 10% interest when purchasing the property.

Rather than Boardwalk and Park Place, your token will navigate Pacific Coast Highway and Hollywood Boulevard in the "California Dreaming" edition of Monopoly.

What happens when you run out of money in Monopoly?

When a player does not have enough money to pay either another player or the bank, they are bankrupt.

If you owe another player, give them all your valued items and remove yourself from the game. Your houses and hotels are turned over to the bank and the value of them (one-half the amount paid) is given to the creditor. If you have a mortgaged property, the new owner must pay the mortgage plus 10% interest.

If a player owes money to the bank, you must turn all your assets over to the bank. The banker will then auction off all your property, minus the buildings, to the highest bidder. The bankrupt player must remove themselves from the game. The last player left standing is the winner.

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