Scrabble/Dealing With a Bad Rack

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Sometimes, due to luck of the draw, you will get stuck with a poor rack such as above. Typically, such racks could consist of all vowels, all consonants, or letters that simply do not combine well together (e.g. BCFHUUV, LLLNNOO, UUUUVVW).

Should I exchange?[edit | edit source]

You may be tempted to exchange most or all your tiles when faced with a bad rack. In some cases, this is indeed the best option. However, there are some things to consider.

In some cases, you may be able to dump your poor tiles to form a long word, such as AALII or AUREOLAE. Here, it helps to know a lot of vowel-heavy words.

If you can't play a long word, it's still quite possible to make a good score with a short word provided you land on bonus squares. For instance, if you have a rack with only consonants, but have a Q and a T, and there is an open A on the board, you can play QAT for at least twelve points, and more if you hit bonus squares. (This usually works better with consonants, as vowels do not score as much.) However, take a look at your leave as well. If you have a bad rack now and you play only two letters, the chances of having a bad rack on your next turn are pretty high - after all, you will still have five bad tiles.

Remember that you cannot exchange when there are fewer than seven tiles left in the bag.

If you do decide to exchange tiles, make sure that the tiles you keep are balanced (e.g. don't keep too many vowels or too many consonants) and likely to score well. It is generally a good idea to avoid duplicating tiles, other than E, S, or blank.

Should I pass?[edit | edit source]

During the beginning or middle of the game, passing is almost never a good strategy, even if you cannot make a good play due to a poor rack, or if you can play a really high-scoring bingo if your opponent puts an open E. Passing signals to your opponent that you want him to play a certain tile, and as a result, a strong opponent will likely play a closed board, or exchange to improve his rack, which does you no good. Other than endgame situations where making a valid play is impossible, and some rare pre-endgame positions, passing with a poor rack is never a good idea.

Memorize vowel-heavy words[edit | edit source]

Vowel dumps can be very handy if you are stuck with a rack full of vowels. For example, if your rack is AEEILOU, rather than exchanging, you should look for a G to play EULO(G)IAE. Vowel dumps worth memorizing are the 4-letter words with three vowels, the 5- and 6-letter words with four vowels, and the 7- and 8-letter words with five or six vowels.