Everyone tries to master Monopoly. The 85-year-old Hasbro game is a time-honored tradition in many families who, during the COVID-19 quarantine, have dusted off their boards.
“Monopoly is the most pivotal game of all time,” says Mike Burd, owner of Video Game Trading Post in Levittown, which sells the game. “It's literally getting everyone through this pandemic.”
Steven Goldfarb, owner of M.J. Beanz Toys in Plainview, agrees, “Monopoly is riding the general wave of people spending more time with their families and wanting to do activities that include multiple people. Parents are drawn to Monopoly because it’s a classic that they remember from their childhood.”
The object of Monopoly is to move around the board buying and trading multicolored properties with the goal of driving your opponents to bankruptcy.
FUN FOR THE FAM
Family Game Night is a regular activity at the Spiegel home in St. James. Recently Debbi and her husband Jon played an after-dinner match with their sons, Adam, 21, and Zach, 16, that lasted 3 1/2 hours.
“It was a marathon,” says Debbi. “Everyone had a good time but secretly inside you are freaking out.”
At the Norris home in Smithtown, the oldest child of four, Katie, 12, reigns supreme.
“I always win,” she says. “My dad tries, but he can’t.”
Father Ed Norris, 40, states, “Katie plays smart. She definitely comes into the game with a plan and is also quite persuasive with trading properties.”
This past Christmas, Madison Almonte, 9, of Copiague got her mom “Game of Thrones” Monopoly, which they have been playing during the quarantine.
“Madison likes the responsibility of Monopoly with all the money and being able to buy stuff,” says mom Diana Almonte, 34. “However, once I walked away for a second and she managed to swipe $12 worth of coins. But that was very ‘Game of Thrones’ of her.”
These days you don’t even have to be in the same room with your family or friends to play Monopoly as there’s a digital app version available for smartphones. Rex Rossen, 27, of Seaford, even plays Monopoly on PlayStation 4 Party Chat with his friends.
“It’s become the highlight of our day. We play 3-4 games daily,” he says. “It’s a fun way to connect with my friends, who are all from Long Island but moved to Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Queens and Manhattan. It brings a closeness among us.”
His buddy Anthony Notarile, 26, who grew up in Holbrook, claims, “Playing Monopoly is helping me handle the quarantine. It takes up a chunk of my day and keeps me mentally sharp.”
Despite their friendship, things can get quite heated.
“We play Monopoly like a sport. The games become super intense because we are hypercompetitive people,” says Notarile. “We have one rule — whatever is said during the game only exists in Monopoly because when we play, none of us are friends.”
Many people implement additional rules to the game. For example, the Spiegels put a pot of $500 in the center of the board and whoever lands on “Free Parking” gets the money. When Rossen and his friends pass “Go,” instead of collecting $200, they offer a choice of either collecting $400 or moving anywhere on the board.
“Every family has their own rules,” says Burd. “There’s no wrong way of playing as long as you are having fun. That’s really what matters. You just have to agree on the rules before you start.”
Players have different strategies for maneuvering in Monopoly. Debbi Spiegel likes to buy as much property as she can.
“As soon as I land on it, I buy it,” she says. “Sometimes that approach works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Meanwhile, Notarile strictly goes after specific properties.
“I’m a huge orange guy,” he says. “Jail is one of the most commonly landed-on spaces. Right near jail, if you roll a 6, 8 or 9 you’ll hit an orange property. Plus, they are very cheap to build on.”
However, Rossen warns that too many property acquisitions could be dangerous.
“If you spend your money too quickly, you could run out right away,” he says. “The key is to build a solid monopoly that will help you last longer throughout the game.”
According to Notarile, winning Monopoly is all about self-preservation.
“You have to be cutthroat and look out for yourself,” he says. “If you play nice, you’re not playing to win.”
VIDEO GAME TRADING POST
WHEN/WHERE Noon — 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (curbside pickup only — call in orders), 52 East Village Green in Levittown
M.J. BEANZ TOYS
WHEN/WHERE Noon — 3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday (curbside pickup only — call in orders), 345 South Oyster Bay Road in Plainview
INFO 516-827-7700, facebook.com/MJBEANZTOYS