Cash in My Pocket – Monopoly, Money and You review

MMAY cover

It’s not often we look at books here on The Little Metal Dog Show, and even rarer that we check out those that fall into the financial section of the shelves. That’s probably down to the fact that such tomes aren’t exactly flying out of the publishing houses of the world, but perhaps the new one from Monopoly guru Phil Orbanes will start a new trend? Board gaming as life coach? There are worse things to base major decisions on…

Anyway, the book is called Monopoly, Money and You, and purports to be your passport to improving your situation by mastering the world’s best selling game. While your first thought may be that such a concept is crazy, if you consider it a little more it does kind of make sense. After all, Monopoly is a game with a dual aim – increase your portfolio as much as possible while bankrupting your opponents. Ignore that second aspect (because you really don’t want to be That Kind Of Person) and things begin to get clearer… is it possible that the skills you develop through Monopoly could transfer to the Real World?

Before Phil throws himself into the suggestions part, he devotes a decent chunk of the book to investigating the statistics of Monopoly. Being quite the nerd, I found this incredibly interesting – the likelihood of landing on certain spaces is far from equal, for example, but even though there are sections of the board that are more vistited than others it’s no guarantee that they’re the best investments. There are also specially commissioned surveys into everything from token selection to gameplay choices as well as an indepth look at dice rolls and the potential return on investment from the game’s many properties (and yes, as you might expect, the Orange set is definitely the best bunch to get).

One – well, three – of the most interesting bits of the book are the run-throughs of actual games. Now, I’ll happily put my hands up and say that these aren’t for everyone, but as someone who enjoys the details and minutiae of how games of any kind are played out, I found these pretty fascinating. The third game that’s gone through is actually the 2009 world championship final, and seeing how these pro-level players approach their opponents is incredible. They’re still playing by the rules that everyone else has to but it’s like a whole new game.

Rules are made to be broken, mind you, and Phil also goes into detail on the subject of House Rules. In an interview I did with him for the show a few months back we also discussed that it feels like no two families will ever play by the same set, introducing their own ways to skew the game. The most famous manipulations are laid out in Monopoly, Money and You, complete with the positives and negatives of how they affect play – boiled down, if you’re bringing more money into the game, you’re extending play by a pretty significant amount. So don’t do that.

Throughout the book, little references to real life situations are inserted here and there – not enough for the text to become preachy and filled with “this is what you should be doing”, though. Phil’s writing comes across like that of an affable uncle proferring useful hints and tips over his favoured arena of the Monopoly board. Some of his suggestions come across as a bit of a stretch, but generally the ideas laid out in the book make decent sense. Interjections from previous championship players also add new voices to the mix with how they use their finely honed skills in everyday life. Even if you’re not entirely sure that their applications fit, it still makes for interesting reading.

Much of Phil’s book comes down to common sense, but it’s still an entertaining read and you could well learn something from it. Of course, many gamers will turn their noses up at it, declaring Monopoly as broken, a relic from the past… but it’s still a defining element of the hobby. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of it, let alone not played it, and this unifying aspect makes Monopoly, Money and You one of the most accessible books on investment out there. It’s certainly taught me a thing or two.

Monopoly, Money and You was written by Philip E. Orbanes and is published by McGraw-Hill in the United Kingdom. A copy will set you back £16.99.

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