As I remarked in my previous article, backgammon is incredibly similar to games like poker and chess and the doubling cube brings poker into the equation even more. I play almost exclusively poker these days at sites like 888poker but that isn’t because I like playing poker more. In fact if I were to be given a game where I had to play for nothing then I would pick backgammon more than poker. It is very difficult to play poker well when there is no money at stake and it stops becoming the same game as it was.
The doubling cube in backgammon when used is akin to raising in poker. If you raise the pot in poker and it is the first raise of the hand then the dollar amount will be quite small. If the blinds are $1-$2 then the first pot raise will be to $7 and no more. However if another player wanted to re-raise then the next pot raise would be to $24 which is more than three times the initial raise.
In backgammon the first double puts the dice on 2 and the next double takes it to 4. The second double is more than the combined effect of the previous double and playing a single game. This is exactly the same if there is another double to 8…….this double is more than all of the other moves put together. This element of the game introduces equity into the equation and this is where the best players excel because they simply estimate the equity in a position better than the other players.
Doubling in backgammon is a risky move for two reasons, firstly you are doubling the stakes of the game and secondly it hands control of the cube across to your opponent. This means that they can re-double you at their discretion providing of course that they accepted your initial double in the first place. While doubling is risky it is also essential and backgammon is what it is because of the cube.When you aggressively double with an edge in backgammon then you also need to be careful as well.
Doubling when you have an edge may increase your potential profits but it also increases the variance immensely. Some winning professionals often decide to give up on opportunities that only afford them very thin edges for this very reason. I myself often refuse marginal doubles in the games that I play in.