The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

My best game was under house rules


June 2, 2019

My entire life was a lie.

It was an innocuous Twitter post, but it stung like I’d found out my parents were getting a divorce, or that Blue Bell was no longer making Cookies and Cream.

“If you don’t have a card to play, you only have to pick up one card,” tweeted @RealUNOGame.

I’ve played my entire UNO life under “house rules.” Sure, Hasbro wrote down a suggested set of parameters to play the game, but who the heck asked them? We love house rules, especially if they can be leveraged into maximum torture for our competitors. I don’t care if you draw half the deck; you’re going to match that yellow 4 card before your turn ends.

House rules come to mind with people celebrating International Tabletop Day this weekend, and my mind takes me back to the board game that’s the subject of most house rules: Monopoly.

A few actual rules on Monopoly you’ve probably ignored:

n You have to go around the board once before you buy property.

n If somebody declines to buy a property, it goes to auction.

n There’s no money if you land on “Free Parking.”

n You must buy four houses before you get a hotel. You cannot do the transaction at once. If the houses are gone, it doesn’t matter how much money you have.

n It’s the property owner’s responsibility to ask for rent on the turn that it’s owed. If the next player rolls the dice, the debt can no longer be collected.

My neighbor Jeff and I played Monopoly frequently, once reaching the 90-minute mark before we realized we each owned exactly half the board and called it a draw.

But we needed our relatives and friends for the biggest of Monopoly games. The summer before I left for college, Jeff, his brother, his two stepsisters, our mutual friends Fred and Alan and I all sat at one table, ready to go.

So many house rules were used. We used my “progressive pot Free Parking,” where the space started with a $500 bonus and grew every time somebody paid a tax.

The game stretched somewhere past the two-hour point, but it never got boring because we had side conversations about the upcoming year in school, the memories we’d made and the things we still planned to do with the summer. We quickly drained the bank, and found the family change jar so quarters could be $1,000 tokens. We cut land deals. We kept certain people in the game with lopsided trades because we knew their presence angered another player. Fred, seeing his demise coming within the next 45 minutes, bequeathed all of his property to Alan for $1 on the condition he receive a share of Alan’s potential win.

I knocked Alan out 40 minutes later, and it was down to myself and Jeff. He said, “I think I can take Wilson on.” He didn’t realize behind my stack of properties were stacks of quarters — enough quarters, I later learned as a college student, to do laundry for everybody on my dorm floor.

Once Jeff waved the white flag, I decided to count the dollars and properties. I ended that day with $140,000 in Monopoly assets. For context, the game comes with $15,140 in paper bills.

That’s still my favorite Monopoly game, and I now realize it’s one of my favorite days because the seven of us haven’t been in the same room together since.

The last thing I did on that game was pick up the pieces. That’s another family house rule: Winner cleans up. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to keep the quarters.

Kevin Wilson is editor of The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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