Monopoly Jail is the first corner space on the Monopoly board after Go, which is the starting square for Monopoly. The other corner spaces are Free Parking, which under normal Monopoly rules, does nothing for or against the player, and the Go To Jail space, which is one of several ways for your player to be sent to jail.
Landing on the Jail Space
Don't worry about landing directly on the Jail square. If you are not sent to jail, you are considered "just visiting." Say hello to Jake the Jailbird while you're there. Jake is the character who's always in jail on the Monopoly board. It's also considered fair to make fun of any players in jail while you are visiting (as long as it's all in good fun, of course).
Ways to Get Sent to Jail in Monopoly
When you are sent to jail in Monopoly, it is immediate. You cannot continue your turn, and if you passed Go during that roll, you cannot collect $200 in salary. There are four ways to go to jail:
- Your dice roll causes you to land on the Go to Jail corner piece.
- You land on Chance and draw the Go Directly to Jail card.
- You land on Community Chest and draw the Go to Jail card.
- You roll doubles three times in a row during your turn. On the third roll, you are sent directly to jail. This means you cannot buy any property you would have landed on had you taken your turn, or pay any rent to the owner of that property.
Buying Property and Collecting Rent While in Monopoly Jail
Your play doesn't come to a complete halt while you are in jail in Monopoly. You can still buy, sell, and trade properties and collect rent:
- You collect the same rent in jail as if you were not in jail, which means you can collect for houses or hotels on your properties. If you do not have any houses or hotels, but own all properties in the color group, you still collect double the stated rent.
- You can still buy properties while in jail. Obviously, you will not land on properties to buy, but you can make deals with other players and participate in property auctions.
- You can sell or mortgage property while in jail. This can be useful if you need the cash to get out.
- You can trade properties with other players while in jail.
Getting Out of Jail
When you are sent to jail, your turn ends. But don't worry, you won't be stuck in jail for long. When it's your turn again, you can choose one of four options to get out of jail:
- You can pay the $50 fine. After paying, roll the dice and move your token as normal.
- You can use a Get Out of Jail Free card if you own one. As with paying the fine, you can then roll the dice and move as normal.
- You can buy a Get Out of Jail Free card from another player, which can be a good deal if you can negotiate to pay less than the $50 fine.
- If don't take one of these first three options, you can roll the dice. If you roll doubles, you are set free and can move forward just as if you had rolled those doubles on a normal turn. However, you cannot roll again as you would normally do when rolling doubles. You can't choose to pay the fine or play a Get Out of Jail Free card after failing to roll doubles unless this is your third attempt.
If you fail to roll doubles on the third attempt, you must either pay the fine or play a Get Out of Jail Free card. If needed, you can sell houses, mortgage a property, or sell a property to raise the money for the fine. After paying the fine, you may move forward the number of spaces indicated by your failed attempt to roll doubles.
If you are unable to raise the money to pay the fine, you have gone bankrupt and you are out of the game.
Going to Jail in Monopoly Can Be a Good Thing
Monopoly jail isn't always a bad thing. In fact, as the game progresses, jail can become a good thing. Early in the game, you want to keep moving around the board to land on properties to buy. At this stage, going to jail means forfeiting that opportunity. You will want to pay the fine or use a Get Out of Jail Free Card on your next move.
But later in the game when most of the properties on the board are already owned, the only benefit of moving around the board is the $200 collected by passing Go and the chance of a beneficial card being drawn by landing on Chance or Community Chest. If your opponents have houses and hotels, staying in jail can be a great way to avoid them. In jail, you are still collecting rents from your properties and your opponents may need to sell or trade their properties. You get the benefits without the risks.
However, as much as you might want to stay in jail forever, you must leave if you roll doubles. On your third turn of attempting to roll doubles, you still must pay the fine and exit the jail if you fail to roll doubles. But beware, if you can't raise the $50 you are bankrupt and are out of the game.
Alternative Jail Rules for a Short Game of Monopoly
If you are playing by the alternative short game rules, you must leave jail on your first turn. This means you may immediately attempt to roll doubles, and failing a successful roll, you must pay the fine or use a Get Out of Jail Free card.
You can set your own house rules regarding jail, as well as other aspects of the game. You may encounter other players whose house rules included not collecting rent while in jail, or getting a second roll after rolling doubles to get out of jail. These vary from the official rules, but you can choose to follow them if you wish.