Scrabble Cheat Sheet: What the Masters Won't Tell You

Learn a few of these smart Scrabble cheats, the ones that the experts secretly rely on, and you'll soon catch a whiff of the sweet smell of victory.

Boost Your Vocabulary: This one is simple. If you know of more words and use them frequently, they'll be more likely to come to mind when you have a random mix of letters staring you in the face. Not ready to read the dictionary? Even reading the newspaper, books or magazines can help. Or consider tutoring a child for the SAT or playing an SAT vocabulary game online. Also take a look at online Scrabble dictionaries.

Understand How Words Are Made: Every word with a Q in it doesn't have a U. Memorize a few. You should also familiarize yourself with prefixes and suffixes, 2-letter words, 3-letter words and words made up of many vowels (yes, uraei and miaou are fair, dictionary-approved words).

Don't Forget Your Defense: Sure, your score only increases when you make a play, but making it hard for your component to score big points can't hurt either! So as you're considering your next move, consider your opponent's next move, too. Block plays as much as possible. Don't play a word that could have an S at the end without the S. Colored squares mean big points-don't leave any vowels open next to them and never leave one empty for your opponent when you could use it yourself. Never open up with a word starting with E, S, R or T. That would leave an easy to build on letter available for high scoring plays.

Uncovering a Bingo: Laying down a 7-letter word in one play earns you 50 extra bonus points. The masters aren't as worried about fitting those 7 letters together right away. They break down their racks looking first for 4 letters that work together and then a 3-letter suffix (ERS, EST, IER) to match. And if you've got a blank tile, finding that Bingo should be even easier!

The Art of Tracking: Each Scrabble game has a specific number of tiles printed with each letter. The top players always count tiles and know what's been used and what could still be left in the bag. This way, you aren't waiting for letters like a U if you have a Q or even one of the 8 E's to complete a word. When you're just starting out, try tracking only the high point value tiles and build up to tracking others later.

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