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Scrabble Hints and Tips: How to Get Better at Playing Scrabble

Mary has many hobbies and shares her ideas and passion in an easy-to-read, user-friendly way.

Top Tips for Playing Scrabble

Do you enjoy playing Scrabble but have no one to play with? You should play online. There you can play against either friends and family who don't live near or with complete strangers who also share your love of the game.

Playing Online

I play almost every day online against my family, who are scattered all over the world. We normally have a game or two going via email, and several times a week we play a live version. The email version is great because you play when it is convenient for you.

My family are all pretty well-matched, and I don't always win, but I can hold my own. We all have different styles of playing, but the things we have in common are a desire to win and a love of the game.

Hints for Improving Your Score (and Having More Fun)

Below I have several hints and tips on how you can improve not just your score in a game but also your enjoyment. I have included board tutorials and even an example of one of my own games I played with my sister from an online site.

Scrabble tiles.

Scrabble tiles.

Enjoy the Game

If you're always playing strategically, you may not be enjoying the game, nor will your opponent. If you block every opportunity and play a very tight game, this may allow you to win, but it doesn't make for a fun game.

Below I have some example boards of different plays. See which is your favorite way to play.

This is your Scrabble tray.

This is your Scrabble tray.

Here Is Your Scrabble Tray

Now for a bit of fun, let's take an example tray. Above, you will see your letters:

U C N I S K A

Your opponent plays the word GOAL.

The state of the board after your opponent plays GOAL.

The state of the board after your opponent plays GOAL.

What Can You Play?

You may already see several words on your tray. Now the question is, what type of game are you going to play? This may depend on who you are playing against. If you are playing someone who is younger such as a child, you may not want to make it difficult for them to play. Ideally, you want to play a word that will give them many options to play. Doing this means they will develop a love of the game and want to continue. If you quash their ability to play, you are robbing them of years of potential enjoyment.

  • By playing the word CAULK, this will create many letters to play from. This is just one option. This would give you a score of 13 Points.
  • Something else to consider, if you are wanting to play a bingo (a seven-letter word), an open game makes it easier. A bingo will give you 50 extra points.
Playing CAULK creates future opportunities.

Playing CAULK creates future opportunities.

Using a Hook in Scrabble

Hooks are letters that you can place at the beginning or the end of a word.

  • The most common hook is placing an S at the end of a word as we have done below. This will mean we get to count not only the points for SAKI but also for GOALS.
  • Let's tally it up. That is six points for GOALS and 16 points for SAKI because it crosses the double word score. So all together, that would be 22 points.
The S is used as a hook in this play.

The S is used as a hook in this play.

Playing a Tight Game

As I said earlier, depending on who you are playing against will determine how you play your game. If your opponent is a very good player, you may opt to play a more challenging game. This, in my opinion, isn't as fun, but it does get the gray matter working! In this type of game, you are limiting the options to play from. The problem is, they will do the same to you.

  • Below, you will see the letter K is sitting on a double letter square. This will be counted both ways. Therefore each KA = 11 Points.
  • That is 22 points so far, but don't forget AL for another 2 points. That brings the total to 24 points.
Placing the KA here scores 24 points!

Placing the KA here scores 24 points!

Two-Letter Scrabble Words

Knowing your two-letter words will aid you in not only hooking onto other words but also for playing parallel. This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your game.

More About Hooks

Although I mentioned that the letter S is a popular hook, there are many more. It is easy to think that we can only hook onto the end, but that isn't the case. Hooks can be played at the beginning of a word also.

Let's look at some examples. The word RAY can be expanded with the following hooks at the beginning:

  • Bray, dray, fray, gray, pray, tray.

Likewise, the word DIT can have hooks at the beginning or the end.

  • Adit, dita, dite, dits, ditz, edit

It is necessary to train your eye to look not just for words that are on your tray but also where you can "hook" them on the board.

How well can you score with these tiles?

How well can you score with these tiles?

Play Parallel in Scrabble

Playing parallel is one of the best plays you can make. Not only are you scoring points from four or five words, but it is also playing defensively. The strategy of the game is not to allow your opponent to be able to use the high counting squares and to limit the availability of places to play.

One of My Games

Below is one of my games against my sister. We play against one another via email on a site called Lexulous.

As you can see, the circled areas are parallel plays.

Examples of parallel plays in Scrabble.

Examples of parallel plays in Scrabble.

Scrabble tiles with points values.

Scrabble tiles with points values.

High Value Tiles

The tiles worth the most points are Z, Q, X, J, and K. It is important not to use these if you aren't capitalizing on their high score. You at least want to get them doubled as in the example above when the word KA was played: The K was on a double-letter score and was played two ways.

It is also recommended not to sit with too many high scoring tiles in your hand because as the game progresses, it is often difficult to play them for maximum benefit.

Anagrams and Scrabble

Are you a whiz at anagrams? If so, you will find Scrabble easier than others who don't have this ability. For those that aren't clear what an anagram is, it is a word that can be made by rearranging the letters of another word.

Below are some anagrams of words you may find on your tray.

  • Players—Parsley
  • Leaf—Flea
  • Death—Hated
  • Angered~Enraged
  • Listen—Silent
  • Creative—Reactive

This is a good skill to master for Scrabble because you may not be able to play your initial word, but you may find a play once you have shuffled your letters. Try practicing this when you are out and about. If you see an advert or billboard, mentally shuffle the letters to come up with new words.

Management of Your Scrabble Tray

A common mistake by beginners is poor tray management. Ideally, you want to keep your tray balanced. If you have just played a great word and left yourself with four I's, this may not have been a wise thing to do because you will either have to swap or play out of it, which could take several turns.

Shuffling your tray will ensure you see combinations you may not have noticed before.

Grouping of Letters

  • Try grouping letters together—for example, the endings such as ING, ED, or IER. These should be moved to the right-hand side of your tray.
  • Don't look for just suffixes, though—also look for prefixes such as SH, CH, or BL, for example. Or diphthongs such as OI, OU, AU.
  • If you group these together on your tray, you may see a word either on your tray or on the board. It is a good habit to get into by placing the suffixes to the right and prefixes to the left on your tray.

Sometimes you will look at your tray, and nothing seems to gel. I often wonder if I am playing in another language! Keep shuffling, and in a few careful plays, your tray will begin to take shape.

Fun for All Ages

I saw this video, and I just had to include it. Some people think only older people play Scrabble. This is not the case and certainly holds true in our family!

This is a fun video; I hope you enjoy it.

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: I play scrabble with 2 lady friends in another city. Last night a gentleman's name appeared on my board and I just started playing with him. How does a stranger begin a game with another stranger?

Answer: I believe anyone can play together. I often get requests from people. You can either play or not. If you want to delete the game you can. I think people may do this for a variety of reasons.

1. They love Scrabble and want to play as many games as possible.

2. They are trying to increase their overall average and look for weaker players to win against.

3. They are lonely and are seeking online activities.

© 2012 Mary Wickison

What are your thoughts on Scrabble?

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on August 07, 2018:

Hi John,

Glad you liked it. You should play online it is convenient because you can take your turn when you have a spare few minutes.

John Smith from New York on August 07, 2018:

hah, Scrabble! Used to love playing it. It's been a while now but your article woke up some great memories, thanks for sharing!

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 23, 2013:

I tend to play on Lexulous on their email version. It works out great for people with busy schedules or in different time zones. It is free to join. I will email you a link with my user name.

Beth37 on April 22, 2013:

GF, we have to play on FB. :)

Dianna Mendez on April 08, 2012:

For real? Thanks for the information, Blond Logic. This I am looking into for sure. My friend enjoyed your hub as well, she's a devoted player.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 08, 2012:

Hi Teaches12345,

I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. You can play online for free at various sites. The one I use currently is called Lexulous. You can play either against their robot or against another person. Be warned! Some of those people are really good at Scrabble. Some will make it a quick game and others will want a more leisurely pace. There is also a chat feature while you were playing. The other players will say things such as, "I wanted that spot" or "Great play". You should take a look at it.

Thanks again.

Dianna Mendez on April 07, 2012:

I do love scrabble but no one else around here wants to play with me! Boo! Love your hub article and the tips for becoming a better player. Love it! Voted up and shared.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 07, 2012:

Hi Flashmakeit,

I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I think there is a growing number of us out there who enjoy a good game of Scrabble. I know I play more now because I can play over the internet.

Thanks for the comment.

Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on April 07, 2012:

Wow, now that is what I call a comment and a compliment! Thank you. As for the rating, from your lips to HP's ears.

Thanks for stopping by TurtleDog.

flashmakeit from usa on April 07, 2012:

Thank you for adding this hub and I really enjoyed this hub because I like scrabble.

TurtleDog on April 07, 2012:

That's one terrific scrabble article. Great tips, the images are perfect and probably the most usefully placed zazzle I've seen. Great job. I voted up. HP should have this rated in 90's plus.