A tip to help you win at Scrabble, from a nationally ranked player

  • I am a nationally ranked Scrabble player, and there is a huge difference between the way experts play the game and casual players.
  • Expert Scrabble players manage to use all of their letters in one spin, earning them a bonus of 50 points, multiple times per game.
  • There is a simple trick that I recommend people try to help them decipher words: look for prefixes and suffixes among your letters that can lead to longer words.

Scrabble is one of Americans’ favorite board games.

But at its highest levels, Scrabble is almost a completely different game than what you play around the living room table on a family game night.

I would know: I am a card holder of the North American Association of Scrabble Players, playing in several Scrabble tournaments per year across the country. I have competed in two National Scrabble Championships and by my ranking am in the top 20 players in New York.

Related: I played in the biggest Scrabble tournament in the country – and it was nothing like the game you grew up playing

The “bingos” are the biggest difference

The biggest difference between expert-level Scrabble and casual play is the length of the words.

You may know that in Scrabble, if you manage to use your seven tiles in one game, it earns you a bonus of 50 points.

This is called “bingo” in Scrabble parlance. And while inexperienced players can go their entire lives without playing bingo, competitive players rely on two or three bingos. per game.

Getting the 50 point bonus that comes with bingo is one of the keys to a really high Scrabble score – after all, the best players in North America average over 425 points per game.

But in fact, finding a seven letter word from a group of random letters is easier said than done. Fortunately, there is a trick you can use to help you find bingos and boost your score to new heights.

Here’s how to find words from random letters

It can be a daunting task to look at seven random letters and try to rearrange them into a valid word.

The best place to start is to try and pick out common prefixes and suffixes that you see among your letters. Think of the combinations that come at the beginning of words frequently, like RE-, UN-, and OUT-, and the combinations that end them frequently, like -ED, -ING, -ER, and -EST.

Once you find a prefix or suffix, you can try to build the rest of your letters around it.

For example, imagine you are looking at the letters CGILNRU. It’s an intimidating rack:

curling scrabble

Marc Abadi

But if you can spot the -ING in these letters, your task becomes considerably easier. Now all you have to do is make a four letter verb out of CLRU, and you’re about to score over 70 points.

Likewise, you can use common prefixes and suffixes to find the bingos in this seven-letter string:

scrabble stand

Marc Abadi

By finding familiar songs like DE-, -ED, and -ERS, you’ll be well on your way to finding bingos like PRAISED, ASPIRED, DESPAIR, and DIAPERS.

The next step is to develop a game strategy around bingos

So now you know the most basic secret to deciphering a word. But finding bingo isn’t enough – to unlock really high scores you will need to put yourself in a position to get bingo-friendly letters.

Expert Scrabble players strategize to maximize their chances of playing bingo. When choosing a word to play, they not only take into account the number of points they score, but also the letters they leave for them and how those letters will affect their ability to score points in the next rounds.

A good rule of thumb is to keep the letters in the word RETAINS – these seven letters combine particularly well with other letters and are found in thousands of bingos. Other good letters for bingos include D, C, H, and P.

On the other hand, awkward letters like B, W, or J greatly reduce your chances of playing bingo, so it’s usually a good idea to use these letters as soon as you draw them.

For example, you will not find any bingos in the following rack …

scrabble jaws

Marc Abadi

… But thinking ahead, it would be smart to play a word like JAW, which would unload your less bingo prone tiles and allow you to save valuable combos like RE-, -ERS, and -EST for the next round.

Decisions like this are essential to success in Scrabble at all levels. Becoming a top expert can take a little more practice, but at the very least, learning how to find bingo can make you the MVP of your next game night.

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