We were playing Monopoly.

  • One of the players drew a ”Get out of jail free”-card.

  • On the next turn he landed on the ”Go to jail”-square and went straight to jail.

  • On the turn after that he decided to NOT use his ”Get out of jail free”-card.

We had an argument about whether he was required to use the card or not?

Is he free to not use it and to stay in the jail for the next three rounds as usual?

  • 23
    Not only can you stay in jail voluntarily, in many cases you should. Starting somewhere around the mid-game in Monopoly (when most of the properties have been bought and people have started building houses), moving on the board becomes a liability (net negative expected value), and staying in jail gives you three turns of not needing to do that. // As far as I can tell, there is no coherent flavor justification for this. That landlords should/do routinely go to jail is in keeping with the game's communist origins, but why they would want to go to jail and stay there makes no flavor sense.
    – Zags
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 16:20
  • 49
    @Zags The game's origins are not communist, they are from a now relatively obscure economic / tax reform movement. This is a bit of a nitpick, but there is an unhelpful tendency (particularly in US politics) to label anything more left-wing or liberal than the status quo as "communist", completely erasing the meaning of that term.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 17:51
  • 7
    @HossamShafie Right, staying in jail to avoid landing on houses/hotels is the optimal way to play.
    – Kosaro
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 20:12
  • 5
    @Zags People in real life sometimes intentionally get themselves sent to jail to have a place to stay the night. And flavor-wise, we already have the question of why someone who owns several hotels would be paying rent to other people. Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 3:43
  • 7
    @Acccumulation: This is getting off topic, but, as a Georgist allegory, Monopoly's "rent" is an abstraction over all kinds of economic rent, not just the "rent" that you pay your landlord. For example, if someone owns an oil well, and exploits it, then some portion of their profits can be attributed purely to the fact that they own a well and most people don't - that's rent, and everyone buying the oil is paying for it. (Incidentally, the fact that it can be profitable to sit in jail says a lot about the behavior of modern corporations...)
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


Yes. You do not have to use the "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Although there is not a specific rule stating this, you don't have to do anything in the game unless there is a rule that says you have to do it (I.E., there is a specific rule that says that if you land on the Go to Jail space, you must move to Jail).

The rules about the "Get Out of Jail Free" card simply state:

You get out of Jail by… (1) throwing doubles on any of your next three turns; if you succeed in doing this you immediately move forward the number of spaces shown by your doubles throw; even though you had thrown doubles, you do not take another turn; (2) using the “Get Out of Jail Free” card if you have it; (3) purchasing the “Get Out of Jail Free” card from another player and playing it; (4) paying a fine of $50 before you roll the dice on either of your next two turns.

If you do not throw doubles by your third turn, you must pay the $50 fine.

Using the card is simply listed as a way that you can get out of Jail, just like paying the $50 is. Note that paying the $50 is mandatory if you don't get out of Jail for free (with the card or by rolling doubles) within 3 turns.

  • 6
    Does this mean that if you fail to get double 3 times you must pay the $50, even if you have a Get Out of Jail Free card you would prefer to use? Would you have to use the card before the 3rd role?
    – Kosaro
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 20:12
  • 14
    @Kosaro Yes, that is correct. If you do not throw doubles by your third turn, you must pay the $50 fine. Since you've thrown the dice a third time and failed to get doubles, you are required to pay.
    – Drise
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 20:49
  • 5
    Wow, I was always the kid chastising others for playing by whatever silly house rules instead of the actual rules, and even I missed that you still have to pay after serving your time. Counterintuitive, frankly. Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 14:21
  • 3
    I also always played that you could use the card after the third non-doubles roll. Truly not intuitive. Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 17:41
  • 1
    To be fair the language is ambiguous... 1) " if you succeed" implies you WANT to. But you might throw 3 and "oh hell I have to". 2) "using the “Get Out of Jail Free” card if you have it" - using implies will, maybe 3) purchasing - obviously not compelled 4) " paying a fine of $50 " [ implied voluntary] 5) "by your third turn, you must pay the $50 fine." compelled I say. The trick is, game suggests you want to get out, but, you (probably) don't - : maybe the solution is , agree house rules before playing? Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 23:59

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