Originally published in Mother Nature Newtork on 3/18/15.
How a top-ranked Monopoly player crushes his opponents with mind games
Want to be a professional Monopoly player? A good memory and social skills are the keys to winning, according to Marinaccio.
On March 19, 1935, Parker Brothers acquired the rights to Monopoly. Now 80 years later, the board game is one of the most popular in the world, having been played by an estimated 1 billion people in more than 114 countries. It has also spawned video games, a short-lived television show, an in-development live-action movie (no, really) and an exclusive club of professional players vying for real cash.
One of those players who will quickly wipe the board with your pitiful top hat token is Richard Marinaccio. The Buffalo-based attorney is the number-one ranked Monopoly player in the U.S., and the number three player worldwide. In an interview with Medical Daily on the psychology of board games, Marinaccio says he learns to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses by mingling with them ahead of a match. He’ll then try and control the flow of the game by being a vocal participant at all stages, offering opinions to competitors in an attempt to better sway the game in his favor.
“I talk a lot around the table. I try to let my point of view be known,” he told the site, adding: “I’m not always steering them wrong. I’m actually telling them something that will benefit them. It just benefits me more.”
Marinaccio adds that a good memory is also an asset, allowing him to keep track of how many community chest and chance cards have been played, as well as the money his opponents have to work with.
“I want to be the person forcing the moves,” he said. “I don’t want to let the game happen in front of me.”
That strategy hasn’t changed much since Marinaccio won the 2009 national Monopoly championship in Washington,
D.C., taking home a real board game bank of $20,580. In a 2013 interview with the Buffalo News, Marinaccio said the key to his success was understanding his competitors.
“My top advice is to play your opponent,” he said. “Learn what their interests are, find their weaknesses and expose them.”
So if you somehow find yourself up against Marinaccio one day, remember to keep your mouth shut.
Oh — and try and steal the thimble. It’s his lucky token.