Monopoly’s already a huge amount of fun, but when you win… then what? You get to gloat for a little bit maybe but there’s no hard prize to celebrate. Unless you play Monopoly with cash, and the winner gets to keep it!
Playing Monopoly with real money can add a lot more excitement to the game. And even if you don’t let the winner keep their winnings, it can just make the game feel a lot more authentic. It’s also a fantastic way to teach kids about money.
So, read on if you want to know how to play a real money Monopoly game.
How much do you need to play Monopoly with real money?
A classic edition of Monopoly includes $20,580 in Monopoly money, so if you wanted to play for real money in a like-for-like game, you’d need the same amount.
However, most people prefer to treat one Monopoly dollar as a cent, so you would need $205.80 in total. Unless you’re a millionaire, that’s a more realistic amount to use.
The real Monopoly money should be broken down in the following ways:
- 30 x $5 bills
- 30 x $1 bills
- 60 x quarters (to replace 30 $50 Monopoly bills)
- 90 x dimes (60 dimes to replace 30 $20 Monopoly bills, 30 to replace the $10 bills)
- 30 x nickels
- 30 x pennies
Of course, if you’re feeling flush you might prefer to play with the full amount in full dollar values.
Before 2008, Monopoly sets came with $15,140, so you could use this amount (or $151.40) instead if you don’t want to invest the full amount to set up the banker’s tray.
The rules of real money Monopoly
Before you start, you need to decide the rules, and who contributes what to the total.
First up is the question of whether you’re playing for keeps or not. If you aren’t, then you just need someone to stump up the cash temporarily, and hope that your friends and family aren’t the kinds of folk who would try to steal from the game!
If you’re playing for keeps, you need to decide what the winner gets. If they get the entire bank, then each player should contribute equally. Rather than each player bringing different amounts of change, one player could organize all the cash and change to be used, while the others used Venmo or similar to send over their share to the organizer.
Or, you might prefer to make it a little more affordable, and have each player contribute just their starting cash – $15. Then the winner gets all of that cash, but the rest of the money in the game remains in the bank or with the organizer.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your players as to how much you want to stake in the game. Never play for more than you’re comfortable losing, especially as Monopoly is a game of chance and, no matter how good you are, a few bad rolls could leave you in a rough position.
One thing to note is that you don’t have to use either $1 to $1 or 1c to $1. You could pick any value you wanted – but then you need to start using math to work out rent costs, and it can really slow the game down. It’s best to keep things easy.
John Travolta likes to play Monopoly with real money
This is true – Travolta admitted on an appearance on the Late Late Show that he liked to play the game using real money. He did say that they ‘limit’ the cash to $20 and $100 notes, with the total cost of a game being around $2000, a tenth of the full value of the game. Not everyone has an actor’s salary to be playing with thousands of dollars though.
The time that Hasbro put real money in Monopoly sets
Back in 2015, it was the 80th anniversary of Monopoly being played in France. And so Hasbro France decided to make things a little bit exciting by adding real money to some of the games, so that lucky customers would open the box and find a nice little windfall.
Only one game got the full works, with every note replaced by real money for a total of 20,580 Euros (which works out at around $23,770).
10 other versions of the game contained 300 Euros, and 69 other sets contained 150 Euros. Not bad considering the game probably only cost 20-25 Euros to buy.
It was all done with a lot of secrecy, and Hasbro was concerned that the games didn’t quite close the same due to the notes being larger, but it did create a nice surprise for 80 lucky people.
What happens if you mix real cash with Monopoly money?
Say you’re late into a regular game of Monopoly and you need a property someone else owns. You offer them a property of your own, $200 of in-game money, and then $20 of real money to sweeten the deal.
That’s exactly what one player, Jeremy Gordon, did when he ‘broke Monopoly’ by introducing real money to make it more like a realistic representation of capitalism. His friends stopped him from completing the trade, but he went on to make a whole new set of rules for incorporating real money alongside in-game money.
They’re quite complex and include a lot of extra detail, but it does offer up something new to try if you want to mix real and Monopoly money together.
Some of the examples include determining the order of play by privilege rather than a roll of the dice and allowing poorly-performing players to merge under certain circumstances.
You can read those rules here.
Learning lessons from playing with real cash
There’s a Ted Talk by Adam Carroll which talks about an experiment he carried out with his kids after watching them play Monopoly. He noticed how they would regularly break the rules just to make the game more fun, disregard winning tactics, and overall just try to support each other.
So, he offered them the chance to play with real money. And despite using $10,000 in real cash, he only offered the winning child $20. But, he did see a marked difference in the tactics used by two of his three children.
He comments on how there are different ways of teaching the next generation about finances and responsible planning with money, although don’t worry – he does say you don’t need to play a $10,000 board game to do it.
Playing Monopoly for real money online
If you think you’re a top Monopoly player and you want to try playing Monopoly for real money in a casino, you’ll need a bit of luck. And not just to win the game, but even just to find one.
Monopoly is not a game that’s really advertised as an official option for winning money in a casino. For that to happen, Hasbro would need to license its use as a gambling tool, which comes with all kinds of complications.
So, while casinos might offer unofficial Monopoly games where you can win money, you won’t see it advertised outside of the casino itself.
Where you can win money by playing a form of Monopoly is on slots. And Hasbro has licensed Monopoly for slot machines for a long time. Indeed head to any large casino and you’ll likely find some form of Monopoly slot machine that you can play for a chance of winning real money.
You can also play lots of different Monopoly slots games in the various online casinos.
Of course, the experience is completely different than playing the board game. Bonus features might resemble the traditional game, but everything is played to a payout percentage and there’s no competitive element between real players – it’s you versus the slot machine’s algorithm.
A more family-friendly version would be to head to your local arcade, where there are various Monopoly games you can play. While you won’t win real money, you will win tickets which can be exchanged for prizes, which is sort of similar.
The bottom line
Monopoly can cause enough arguments between family and friends when played for fun – add in real money and you’re potentially looking at a much feistier scenario, especially if someone tries to cheat, or someone has a series of bad dice rolls.
But there are some fun ways you can do it, and you don’t need to use $20,000+ in order to play. It’s quite easy to scale that down to a more manageable level, whether you mix real and Monopoly money together, or you swap one Monopoly dollar for a real cent.
And if you think you’re really good, you could always enter a Monopoly tournament with a view to becoming world champion. The last championship in 2015 had a grand prize of $20,580, so that’s definitely one way you could play Monopoly to win real money.