10 Monopoly 'rules' that aren't actually rules

Publish Date
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 10:22AM

Hasbro - the company who own the rights to Monopoly - say that Monopoly was born when Charles Darrow presented the game, fully formed, to Parker Brothers executives in 1934.

But this isn't actually factually correct.

In fact, by then Monopoly had been entertaining players for three decades. The truth is that a left-wing feminist named Lizzie Magie invented the game in 1903 under the title "The Landlord's Game." Her deliberate goal was to highlight the evils of capitalism.

"It's a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences," Magie wrote in a contemporary political publication.

"It might well have been called the 'Game of Life,'" she wrote, "as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world, and the object is the same as the human race in general seems to have, i.e., the accumulation of wealth."

Monopoly was a clever bit of left-wing propaganda: the "Go" space text highlights this. 

"Labor upon Mother Earth produces wages," she wrote on her original board. That line is direct from the thinking of Henry George, the 19th-century anti-monopolist who favored taxing land-owners for the value of their holdings. Workers, who actually create value, should simply be able to collect their $200 and be on their way around the board.

The game is still as popular as ever 100 years on and it's led to many house rules and niche tweaks so widespread that very few people play the game with orthodox strictness these days. Here are some "rules" that you won't find in the official Monopoly rule book.

1. If you're lucky enough to land right on the "Go" space, you can collect $400.

That money is supposed to represent the wages you earn by the sweat of your brow, remember? Why would landing right on the space pay double? 

2. Have you heard of the Monopoly Mercy Rule?

Monopoly can sometimes take all night to play. Not everyone has time for that. Somewhere along the way, someone made up a Mercy Rule, which holds that a player who first reaches a predetermined personal wealth wins automatically.

3. Free Parking pays well 

Heaps of Monopoly players pay taxes and fines into a collective pot in the center of the board. Whoever lands on Free Parking collects the whole payout. In reality, you're not meant to get anything from landing on Free Parking. All those taxes and fines should go right back where they came from: the bank. The true benefit of the Free Parking space is that you won't have to fork over your hard-earned money to some evil land baron if you end up there.

4. You turn in your properties to the bank when you go bankrupt

Capitalism is much more cut-throat than that. According to Monopoly's actual rules, the player who collected your last dollar gets to take all of your properties. That's how the rich get richer.

5. When you choose not to buy a property you've landed on, it's simply time for the next player's turn.

Nope. All property must sell. If you don't want to buy the piece of land you're standing on, the deed goes up for an immediate live auction.

6. Players can't collect rent on properties while they're in jail

This rule means jail sucks even more. That's actually a fake rule, though! You can still collect rent while you're in jail. Apparently you've got people for that!

7. A roll of snake eyes pays $500

This is a rule that your big brother totally made up one time when he got snake eyes and just wanted some cash. Check the rules - you won't find any mention of the snake-eyes payout.

8. You can take loans from the bank or from other players to buy properties that you can't afford

There's no official rule about loans in the game of Monopoly. The game is meant to be critical of capitalism, remember?

9. You have to make it all the way around the board once before you can start buying properties.

That's not in the rules. Go hard from the beginning!

10. You don't have to own all the properties in a single category before you start building on them.

You definitely have to own all the same-coloured properties before you can start building houses. The game is called Monopoly, after all. If you don't own all the related properties, you don't have a monopoly.


Happy playing!