How to Play Scrabble

Learn the basics of Scrabble and strategies to whip up high-scoring words in this beloved board game

Does it seem like you’re only destined to win Scrabble if you’ve practically memorized dictionaries? Well, that’s not the case at all—it just takes a little know-how of some simple rules to come out on top in this fun, classic word game. Here, we’ll reveal all the secrets to spelling out success for yourself by strategically laying down words that will help you score big. Ready to take the crown during your next Scrabble night? Excellent! Jump right in and decode all the ways to make great moves during Scrabble so no one dethrones you.

[Edit]Things You Should Know

  • If you place the first word in Scrabble, then you receive a Double Word Bonus for the word you played. For example, you'll earn 20 points for a 10-point word.
  • When it's your turn to make a move, build off of another person's word for your word to be valid. For instance, use the "n" in "friend" to spell "pension."
  • Make sure that when you spell out words, you place letters in a horizontal row or a vertical column rather than in a diagonal line, which is not allowed.
  • At the end of your turn, draw new tiles to replace any tiles you used to spell out a word. Keep 7 tiles in your rack for each play unless you can't draw any more.



  1. The goal of Scrabble is to earn the highest score by the end of the game. You earn points by spelling words with letter tiles. There all sorts of strategies you can use—for example, you can spell words with high value letters like "Q" and "Z" (both of which are worth 10 points each), or you can earn an enormous amount of points by placing letter tiles on big-ticket "Premium Squares," like Triple Letter Bonuses or even Triple Word Bonuses. If you love creativity and showing off your vocabulary, then this is definitely the board game for you.[1]
    Play Scrabble Step 1 Version 6.jpg
    • Scrabble is finished once all the players have used all their tiles, all the tiles in the bag have already been drawn, or there are no longer any words that can be played.


  1. Set up the Scrabble board, letter racks, and letter tiles. Lay out the board, put all 100 letter tiles in the cloth bag that's included with the game, and put out 1 letter rack per player. Make sure each letter rack is placed in front of 1 of the 4 sides on the board.[2]
    Play Scrabble Step 2 Version 5.jpg
    • Give everyone a piece of paper and a pencil, too. That way, they can keep track of all their points.
    • If your crew wants to be extra fancy, each player can bring their very own Scrabble score notebook.
  2. Agree on a dictionary to use for challenges. At some point during the game, it’s possible that someone might play a word that another player thinks is invalid. In this kind of situation, you’ll need to look up the word in a dictionary. Make sure everyone is on the same page about the dictionary you’ll use, then refer to it whenever challenges come up. Or, use the official “Word Checker for Scrabble®” app instead. Words that are always off limits include:[3]
    Play Scrabble Step 3 Version 6.jpg
    • Proper nouns—nouns that are always capitalized—like names and places.
    • Abbreviations, like “CIA,” “FBI,” or “USA.”
    • Prefixes or suffixes by themselves, like “anti-” or “-ful.”
    • Hyphenated words, like “short-term” or “old-fashioned.”
    • Any other incomplete and unofficial English word, like “ridic” (for “ridiculous”).
  3. Put all 100 tiles in the bag and shake it. To make sure you randomize all the letters so no one knows what they’re pulling, fill the bag with all the tiles, use the drawstring to close it, and shake them around. Whoever goes first is based on the tile they pull, which is left up entirely to chance.
    Play Scrabble Step 4 Version 6.jpg
  4. Pull a tile to decide who plays first. Pass the bag around the table and let each player draw 1 tile. Next, each person places their tile face up on the table. The player with the letter that is closest to the letter “A” makes the first Scrabble play. If anyone draws a blank tile, they automatically start the game.[4]
    Play Scrabble Step 5 Version 6.jpg
    • After sorting out the order everyone will go in, put all the letter tiles back in the bag and shuffle them again.
  5. Fill your rack with 7 tiles. Let the person who drew the tile closest to “A” go first. Hold the bag above eye level so they can’t see any of the tiles. Once everyone else takes out 7 tiles, make sure they put them onto their tile rack. Then, have them pass the bag to the next player until everyone has drawn their letters and filled their tile racks.[5]
    Play Scrabble Step 6 Version 6.jpg
    • Do not show your tiles to your fellow players. Part of the fun in playing Scrabble is all the fun surprises when you see what someone else spells out (or when you dazzle everyone with an epic word choice).


  1. Play the first word if you chose the tile closest to “A.” The word must use at least 2 tiles, and 1 of them must be placed on the star square in the center of the board. The word can be laid out vertically (from top to bottom) or horizontally (from left to right), but it can’t go diagonally across the Scrabble board.[6]
    Play Scrabble Step 7 Version 6.jpg
    • Keep track of the points for each play! More on that in the Scoring section.
    • The star counts as a “Premium Square,” and it doubles the score of the player who places their first word. For example, if the total value of the first word played was 10, then the player actually doubles that and collects 20 points.
  2. Draw new tiles at the end of each round. After you’re done with your turn, grab new tiles to replace any that you just played. For example, if you played 3 of your tiles to form a word during your turn, pull out 3 new tiles from the bag at the end of your turn. Place these new tiles on your rack.[7]
    Play Scrabble Step 8 Version 6.jpg
    • Pass the bag to the next player so they can draw new tiles at the end of their turn, too.
    • Make sure that everyone has 7 tiles again by the end of their turn unless there aren't enough tiles left in the bag to make this possible.
  3. Go clockwise to give the next player their turn. Once the first player has made their move and ended their turn, the person to the left of this individual follows suit. When this player finishes up with their turn, then the person to the left of them makes their play, and so on.[8]
    Play Scrabble Step 9 Version 6.jpg
  4. Build off another player’s word when it’s your turn. When it’s your turn again, make sure to keep adding onto the words that other opponents have just played. Just like the case is for every round, you aren’t able to create a “freestanding” word on the board that doesn’t work off of someone else’s word. For a word to be valid, all tiles must be connected on the board.[9]
    Play Scrabble Step 10 Version 6.jpg
    • Make sure to consider all the connected tiles. If you add tiles to someone else’s word on the board, the tiles must create 1 new word. However, if your tiles touch other tiles somewhere else on the board, these connections need to also make valid words for your play to count.
    • For example, build the word “noisy” by using the "n" in another player’s word, “pension,” to connect all of the words.
  5. Challenge a player if you think their word is invalid. Whenever you genuinely believe that a player has placed down a word that doesn’t exist or is misspelled, challenge that player. Look up the word in the dictionary everyone’s chosen and check whether it’s valid or invalid.[10]
    Play Scrabble Step 11 Version 6.jpg
    • Just be careful—if the word is in the dictionary and the player has spelled it correctly, then the word stays and the player gets the points. As the challenger, you’ll lose your turn.
    • If the word is not in the dictionary or the player has spelled it incorrectly, then the player must remove the word from the board. The player gains no points and loses that turn.
  6. Exchange tiles if you want different ones. At some point during the game, you might decide that you want to exchange some or all of your tiles for new ones. You can use a turn to get new tiles. Just discard the tiles that you no longer want into the bag, shuffle the bag and draw the number of tiles that you got rid of.[11]
    Play Scrabble Step 12 Version 5.jpg
    • Just keep in mind that you can’t play a word in addition to drawing new tiles, so this move counts as your turn.
    • There's also a chance that you might draw some of the letter tiles you were trying to get rid of, especially if the number of tiles in the bag is running low.
  7. "Pass" if you'd prefer to neither place a word nor exchange tiles. Sometimes, you might feel like you've run out of options for that turn. You may also think your current tiles might pay off on another round, so you don't want to exchange them for new ones. If that's the case, just ask to "pass" and let the next player make their move.[12]
    Play Scrabble Step 13 Version 5.jpg
    • Keep in mind that the game ends if all players choose to "pass" for two consecutive turns in a row.


  1. Keep track of your points after each play. Once you put down a word, make sure to take out your paper (or notebook) and a pencil. Look down at the lower right-hand corner of each of the tiles you laid down—you’ll find the points they’ll each give you. If you placed a tile on a Premium Square, then adjust your score based on the bonus it gives you. Write down the total points you earned for the turn.[13]
    Play Scrabble Step 14 Version 5.jpg
    • 0 Points: A blank tile.
    • 1 Point: A, E, I, L, N, O, R, S, T and U.
    • 2 Points: D and G.
    • 3 Points: B, C, M and P.
    • 4 Points: F, H, V, W and Y.
    • 5 Points: K.
    • 8 Points: J and X.
    • 10 Points: Q and Z.
  2. Collect points from Premium Squares when you place tiles on them. You only earn a bonus from a Premium Square during the turn that you laid a tile over it. You won’t be able to take advantage of a bonus from a Premium Square that you used in a previous turn or that was already counted by another player.[14]
    Play Scrabble Step 15 Version 5.jpg
    • Double Letter Score: A letter placed on this square is double (x2) the number of points shown on the letter tile.
    • Double Word Score: A word that is made up of a letter placed on this Premium Square receives double (x2) the number of points than it otherwise would.
    • Triple Letter Score: A letter placed on this square is triple (x3) the number of points shown on the letter tile.
    • Triple Word Score: A word that is made up of a letter placed on this Premium Score receives triple (x3) the number of points than it otherwise would.
    • When tallying the bonuses for plays with multiple Premium Squares, use an order of operations—add the letter bonuses before the word bonuses.[15]
      • Example: If you lay down 5 letter tiles to spell the word "aroma," and "m" is on a Triple Letter Bonus, while the entire word is on a Double Word Bonus, first calculate the bonus for the letter (3x2=6), factor it in when getting the score for the total word (1+1+1+6+1=10), then use the Triple Word Score to trip that sum (10x3=30) to arrive at your final score (30) for that turn.
  3. Get a 50-point bonus if you use all 7 tiles in 1 turn. This incredible move and amazing bonus is also known as a “Bingo.” If you manage to lay down all 7 tiles from your rack and play a word, tally up the total value of your word plus any bonuses earned from Premium Squares, then add 50 points on top of that—lucky you![16]
    Play Scrabble Step 16 Version 5.jpg
    • Example: If you lay down all 7 tiles to play the word “detainer," and both "e" and "n" are on Triple Letter Bonus Squares, factor in the bonuses for "e" (1x3=3) and "n" (1x3=3), total up the score whole word (1+3+1+1+1+3+1+1=12), then add your 50-point "Bingo" (12+50=62) to receive your final score for that turn (62).
  4. Calculate each player’s score at the end of the game. As the scorekeeper tallies everyone’s points, each player announces the points value (if any) of the tiles left over in their rack. Deduct this value from each player’s points total to find out each player’s final score.[17]
    Play Scrabble Step 17 Version 5.jpg
    • If a player tallied up 100 points, but they have 2 tiles left in their rack which have a combined points total of 9, then they’ll end the game with 91 points (100-9=91).
    • If a super fortunate player ends the game with 0 tiles in their rack, then they get the sum of all other players’ unplayed tiles added to their score.
      • If there were 3 other players, and they each had 5 points left in their racks, then the player with 0 tiles gets to add 15 points (5+5+5) to their total score.
    • If there’s a tie, then the player with the highest score before any deductions wins.
      • If Player A and Player B are tied with points, but Player A had 119 points before deducting 1 point and Player B had 120 points before deducting 2 points, then Player B wins.
  5. Announce the winner. After the scorekeeper has added each player’s scores and deducted the values of any unused tiles, it’s time for them to congratulate the victor. The person who has the highest score wins the game; second place goes to the person with the second highest score, and so on. Give everyone props for being so creative and putting in their best effort.[18]
    Play Scrabble Step 18 Version 4.jpg

[Edit]Tips on Playing Professionally

  1. If you plan to become a pro Scrabble player, train like an expert. It's completely achievable to make it to the top and even win cash prizes by playing Scrabble competitively in official tournaments. The more you invest time and effort in leveling up your gameplay, the more likely you'll gain mastery of this popular board game. To get closer to an epic victory, take these helpful steps:[19]
    Play Scrabble Step 19 Version 4.jpg



  • Although blank tiles score 0 points, they value about 25 points because they can be used as any other letter.
  • Scrabble is played on a 15x15 board with 225 squares on it. The game comes with 100 letter tiles, 2 of which are blank. A letter tile is worth between 0-10 points.[20]
  • A 15-letter word is the longest possible word you can spell on a Scrabble board. An example of one is "reconsideration."[21]
  • There are 61 "Premium Squares," which include 24 Double Letter Bonuses, 17 Double Word Bonuses, 12 Triple Letter Bonuses, and 8 Triple Word Bonuses.[22]
  • Want to try to beat a champ? Try to top Karl Khoshnaw, who lays claim to the world's top-scoring Scrabble move. This Scrabble whiz played the word "caziques," which earned him 392 points in 1 turn.[23]


[Edit]Quick Summary