Christmas isn't really complete until someone's flipped the board over and stormed out during a family game of Monopoly. It's tradition - just like mince pies and carol singing.
But, it turns out, we've all been playing the game wrong for years. It should actually be a lot shorter (which would probably lead to fewer arguments!)
As Simon Whistler, presenter of YouTube channel 'Today I Found Out', explains in a recent video that has now been viewed over 1.2 million times, we've all been totally ignoring the rule book.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by Hasbro a couple of years ago, 68% of Monopoly players have never actually read the rules and 34% of us freely admit to making up our own.
So, what have we all been doing wrong?
Take Free Parking. We all know that when you land on that square, you get to collect all the 'get out of jail' fees and taxes that are been piling up in the centre of the board, right? Well, no you don't actually.
Free Parking actually does nothing at all - it's just a place for players to rest and count their money during the game.
But so many people have been using the Free Parking spot the wrong way that Hasbro actually introduced some new 'house rules' two years ago and included the Free Parking cash windfall in them.
Here are a few other ways Simon Whistler tells us we've all been breaking the rules:
- At the beginning of the game, you don't actually have to do a full circuit of the board before you can start buying - players are allowed to start snapping up property right from the first roll of the dice.
- Every time a player lands on a property and chooses not to buy it, that property should then become available for anyone to make a bid on it. As the rules state: "If you do not wish to buy the property, the Banker sells it at auction to the highest bidder. Bidding may start at any price." In other words, even if it's not your go, you could be snapping up properties at bargain prices.
- When a player is bankrupted, most people believe the rules stipulate their assets must all be returned to the Banker. However, that's not actually the case. Their remaining assets should actually go to the player whose debt they were unable to repay.
- Players aren't supposed to be allowed to lend each other money. Only the Banker can lend money.
- Most of us think that when a player is in jail, they can't collect any rent or buy any properties. However, that's simply not true. According to the rulebook, a player can still collect rent and make bids on properties while languishing in prison.
Oh, and this last one is the cause of lots of arguments - the rules state that if a player lands on your property and you don't notice before the next player throws the dice, then they don't have to pay you rent. Yes, you can indeed claim squatters' rights and it's definitely not cheating.
Simon concludes: "Over the near century the game of Monopoly has existed, the official rules have gradually become ignored...with no one in many decades actually bothering to read the rulebook. The result is that certain of the common 'house rules' ultimately make the game significantly more time-consuming and more boring when it's not your turn."
He suggests maybe taking the time to re-read the rules this Christmas, to save yourself a lot of time - and arguments.
He may have a point.