Mary has many hobbies and shares her ideas and passion in an easy-to-read, user-friendly way.
10 Top Tips for Playing Better Scrabble
If you're looking to improve your game of Scrabble, I have compiled a list of ideas that will help you. Maybe it has been years since you've played, or maybe you just want some pointers on how to squeeze a few extra points out of each tray.
I play daily online with my family and friends. It is easy to think the games would be repetitive, but my family members also play with a larger circle of friends all using different strategies and different words. This helps to expand our Scrabble knowledge as this is then replayed in games with each other.
Fast Ways to Improve Your Scrabble Game
- Learn to Love the Letter Q
- Watch for Prefixes and Suffixes
- Master the Two-Letter Words
- Make Compound Words
- Play Defensively
- Swap Your Letters
- Know How to Get a Bingo
- Learn How to Deal With Problem Letters
- Never Swap S, D, R or Blank
- Learn From Better Players
1. Learn to Love the Letter Q
Sometimes you can tell when someone sitting across the table from you draws the Q. It either brings a smile to their face or a look of dread. The difference between those two players is that the one who is smiling knows their list of Q words which don't need a U following.
Even if you don't remember all of them, a Q should never be a reason to worry, because the word "QI" can be played almost anywhere. If you are lucky, you will be able to place it on a triple letter going both ways.
That would be a resulting score of at least 74 points for just two letters. Not bad, eh? Now, do you think you could learn to love the letter Q?
2. Watch for Prefixes and Suffixes
It is often easy to overlook the use of prefixes when we play Scrabble. Developing an eye for looking for prefixes such as dis, un, re, and anti will advance your game immensely. It is a good idea to move potential prefixes to the left of your tray. This will assist you in training your brain to see possible plays using them.
Likewise, keep alert to the potential for suffixes as well—est, er, ing or ly. These tiles should be moved to the right of your tray.
These are just a few examples of both. Still hungry for more prefixes and suffixes?
3. Master the Two-Letter Words
Do you play against someone who uses two-letter words? They probably use these as hooks that help them connect to another word. Mastering these words will open up many possibilities as they allow you to form words on your tray, not just on the board.
Of course, there are those words you use every day, such as To, Do, Be, and My, but there are a host of more obscure words which you should keep in your arsenal of potential hooks. You don't need to know the meanings of them unless you want to. Use these for parallel plays or to hook onto another word.
4. Make Compound Words
Do you remember what a compound word is? These are words such as foreground, tabletop, and doorway—two words which are combined together to make one. Keep your eyes open for potential compound words on the board. When someone plays a word, do a quick mental vocabulary run-through and see if there are any words you could add to the beginning or the end of that word to make another word. This is one reason why shuffling your letters on your tray is a good idea.
Depending on who you are playing against, they may think they have played strategically, thinking you could only add a D, S, or R as the end letter or, in the example, an s at the beginning.
If you can make their word into a compound word, you could extend over a triple play without them realizing they have left you open to such a move. The look on their face when you do this will be priceless.
It's also worth noting here, you can play at the front and back of a word in the same turn. If played correctly, you could straddle two double word scores!
5. Play Defensively
Play defensively, getting a great score and leaving your opponent with a potential better score is pointless. And yes the pun was intended.
If you are aware of the high scoring tiles that haven't been played yet, it is likely your opponent may have at least one in their hand. Don't leave a tempting triple letter or triple word available to them.
6. Swap Your Letters
Don't be afraid to swap tiles. If you are lumbered with a tray full of vowels or consonants and can score no more than 10 points a turn, it is time to swap. Many people, even those who have played for many years, resist doing this and as such score less. Below you will see a list of words that use mainly consonants or vowels. I can't urge this strongly enough, don't waste too many turns trying to play out of a bad hand. Your opponent will be pulling ahead of you.
Look at this example below.
Should You Swap a Tray Full of Vowels?
If you have a tray filled with all or nearly all vowels you may be able to play out of them. Words such as ALOE, BEAU, UREA, IOTA, AUDIO, ADIEU. These all are great words to use up vowels.
Should You Swap a Tray Full of Consonants?
Sometimes you can be staring at a tray with only consonants on it. Don't despair, there are ways to play out of it. Consider these words: HYMN, RHYTHMS, MYRRHS, NYMPHS, PYGMY, CYST, SPRY and GYPSY.
7. Know How to Get a Bingo
Everyone wants a bingo, a seven letter word that increases your score dramatically. They are usually made from low point value tiles. If there is nowhere to play your seven letter word, rearrange the letters and move on. It is easy to get blinded and not see other words. Keep shuffling your letters to see possible words. These seven letter words are best played early in the game because as the game progresses, there is less space to play a long word.
The letters below are considered the best for being able to get a bingo:
8. Learn How to Deal With Problem Letters
If you struggle with a certain letter, learn words that use that letter both as a beginning letter and contained within the word. Think of other letters that are often used next to it. Build a bank of these words in your memory and it will soon become less daunting when you draw it. For me, it was the letter V;. Now I have certain 'go to V words ' I use when I draw it.
9. Never Swap S, D, R or Blank
The S, D, R and blank are great letters for hooking onto the end of words. If you are swapping tiles, it is advisable to never swap these.
10. Learn From Better Players
Play against and learn from better players. If you are playing someone who is consistently scoring more than you, where are their points coming from? It is likely their tiles were no better than yours; they just used them more effectively.
Increase your Scrabble vocabulary. Practice these new skills and watch your score increase. Over time, people will be watching how you play and learning from you.
Good luck and happy Scrabbling.
Bonus Tip: American or British English Dictionary?
Which dictionary do you use when you play Scrabble? It is necessary that everyone agrees from the outset which one will be used. This eliminates any confusion during the game. American English is also used in Canada, Thailand and Israel.
For the rest of the English-speaking world and for tournament play, British or UK English is used. If you are going to take your game to the next level and play in official tournaments, it is good to begin familiarizing yourself with the new word lists.
On many online websites, you are asked to choose which dictionary you will be using at the beginning of each game.
More Scrabble Tips
- Scrabble hints and tips
Do you love the game of Scrabble but wish you were a bit better at it?.Board tutorials will show you how to tailor your game to the person you are playing against..
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Mary Wickison
Are you a fan of Scrabble?
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on February 26, 2018:
Playing online can be challenging because you don't know if the other player is using an aid. These could include a cheat sheet or a website where the letters are added and all available words are shown.
If your opponent, is using nanophysics words, and you know these are not normally in their vocabulary, call them out on it.
If they were sitting across from you, looking for words in the dictionary, you wouldn't have that, now would you?
The ethics and sportsmanship of the game are still there for most of us. It's just not cricket.
Nell Rose from England on February 26, 2018:
Definitely going to keep this bookmarked! you know why! LOL!
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on September 13, 2017:
I love hearing about young people taking up the game. Nowadays, there is so much competition for a person's time and it is wonderful to know that playing Scrabble is still a popular pastime.
I still play daily with my sisters and cousin over the internet. We are a family of game players and around our game table, we had all ages.
Scrabble will help your son not just with spelling and vocabulary but with strategy.
Thanks for your comment.
Sarah Butland on September 13, 2017:
My son plays Scrabble and has been beating me quite often! He's only seven years old and eager to learn so these tips will definitely help!
Thanks for writing and reading,
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on January 11, 2016:
The letter Z always divides people. I personally love getting it but I know other people who feel it is as bothersome as drawing the Q. To me the Z is easier to use because it fits nicely at the front or the middle of a word. Plus there is always the ZA, ZO (not US) and then Zee, Zip etc. Much more flexible than a Q.
Vganassa on January 11, 2016:
Best way to use the letter Z
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on October 11, 2015:
I think you would enjoy online Scrabble. I also like Sudoku but wouldn't be the best person to write about it as I find it frustrating!!
Glad you enjoyed the hub.
Thanks for reading
Certified Noob on October 11, 2015:
Thank you for excellent scrabble tips. I used to play scrabble as a kid and would score heavily most of the times. But never played online scrabble. May be l will start scrabble again and this time online version. If you play Sudoku it would be nice you write something helpful about that too .
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 28, 2014:
I use to be the same until I started playing online. You should give it a try. If you don't have time for a full game, you can play by email. I play free on a site called Lexulous.
I think it is a great game and keeps the brain young.
Thanks for reading, I'm glad you liked the tips.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 28, 2014:
I enjoy scrabble but don't play it too often. I do appreciate your tips, as they will help when I get a chance to play. Thanks.
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 11, 2014:
You're welcome, glad you found it useful. Enjoy your games.
Trisha Roberts from Rensselaer, New York on June 11, 2014:
Great hub! I am always finding ways to better myself in word games (Words with Friends) and I feel this has truly gave me a different eye. Thanks!
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 10, 2014:
Yes you should. My mother too was very good at it and most games. I love the way games can pull a family together.
Have a great week and thanks for reading.
Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on June 09, 2014:
I never swap out an S. Someone would have to fight me for it. My mother and I used to play all the time when I lived with my parents. She is very good at it since she practices with crossword puzzles. Very helpful advice here... I might use some of it against my mother one day!
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 08, 2014:
Thanks, I am glad you liked it.
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 08, 2014:
You have covered everything here! What a great resource.
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 08, 2014:
I have never played the version on Facebook but it is a wonderful game which has stood the test of time. Hope you can use the tips to good effect in your upcoming games.
Thanks for visiting and have a great Sunday.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 07, 2014:
There is a Facebook game called "Words with Friends." Same game as Scrabble, and it is my way to unwind at the end of the day. Love this game. Thanks for the tips my friend, and have a wonderful weekend.
Mary Wickison (author) from USA on June 07, 2014:
A Scrabble recipe, I have got to take a look at that.
Thanks for visting and linking.
RTalloni on June 06, 2014:
Oh yeah, these are great tips! Now you've got me wanting to play Scrabble this late at night. The best I can do right now is link it to my Scrabble recipe hub and pin it to my Children's…Games board, but I'll be keeping the tips in mind!