How you can seize an edge with this Monopoly construction rule

How to gain early control and a lasting edge in Monopoly (part 6)

Ken Palmer
7 min readJun 28, 2021


Who taught you how to play Monopoly?

For me, it was a combination of family and friends. In middle school, my brother and I played many games with my best friend and his sister.

We didn’t actually read the rules. Our understanding was gleaned from what you might call “oral tradition.”

House rules

At my house, we had two Monopoly sets — mine and my Dad’s old set. We put all the houses and hotels into one box. If you had lots of money, you could build extra houses and hotels beyond the first hotel.

Imagine earning $4,000 for having two hotels on Boardwalk! That led us to take money from The Game of Life because we needed bills bigger than $500.

This adaptation warped the game. But, hey, we were in middle school.

Real rules

One benefit of playing Monopoly with your computer is that it enforces correct rules. But it also makes the rules invisible.

Have you read Monopoly’s rules? If not, do so and I promise, you will learn some new things. It’s best to know the rules yourself.

I’m not going to teach you the rules. In the next article, I’ll point out common mistakes. Some I’ve made many times, and doubtless some you’ve made. Now, I’m not here to bash house rules. I’m here to make you a strong player.

And to become a strong player, you must understand housing shortages.

What is a housing shortage?

It’s often the case that players don’t know about housing shortages. Because they don’t know, players ignore housing shortages.

If you’re unfamiliar with housing shortages, that’s okay — I’ll explain.

Also called a “Building Shortage,” a housing shortage refers to Monopoly rules that regulate housing and development. Here’s a summary:

  1. A Monopoly game has exactly 32 houses and 12 hotels.
  2. When the bank runs out of houses, a player must wait for other players to return or mortgage houses to the bank.
  3. When a player has four houses built on all properties in a color group, that player may choose to build one…