How To Win At Tic Tac Toe Every Time — VIDEO

Ah, the mighty game of Tic Tac Toe: Savior of bored people everywhere, seemingly since the beginning of time (or at least, since the Roman Empire or possibly ancient Egypt, depending on who you talk to). We've all probably played more rounds of this schoolyard classic than we can count — but have you ever wondered whether there's a surefire method for how to win at Tic Tac Toe every time? It turns out, there is — and YouTuber DaveHax is here to walk us through it all. Just remember, though: With great power comes great responsibility, so be sure only to deploy your winning Tic Tac Toe strategy when absolutely necessary.

Or… something.

Anyway. Moving on.

Not unlike Rock, Paper, Scissors, winning a game of Tic Tac Toe requires some judicious use of Game Theory — the mathematical concept that lets us map out and analyze all the possible outcomes of any given situation. But hey, guess what? If you're worried that there are 80 bajillion possible board layouts — and oh good gravy, how are you ever going to figure them all out? — good news: A) 80 bajillion isn't a real number; and B) according to math-y YouTuber James Grime, there are actually only 23 layouts, not including reflections or rotations.

Plus, it's actually pretty easy to win. Here's the breakdown, according to Dave Hax; scroll down to watch the full video for more.

If You're Player One:

1. The Opening Move

If you're Player One, make your first mark in one of the corners. If your opponent places their first mark in the center space, then unfortunately you're unlikely to win (unless Player Two makes a mistake somewhere along the way). But, if they make their first move anywhere else on the board, you're good to go.

2. Ready For Battle

If your opponent does not place their first mark in the center, then two possibilities branch out: Either they play their first move directly diagonal from your first mark, or they play it in one of the three squares that make up the corner adjacent to your mark. If they go with the first option, place your next mark in one of the remaining adjacent corners, as seen up top…

And if they go with the second, then place it in the corner opposite where Player Two just went, as seen here.

3. Set Yourself Up for Success

The third move has to accomplish two things: First, you have to block Player Two from winning; and second, you need to give yourself at least two options for a fourth move that will strike the finishing blow.

In the example seen here, Player One's first move was in the bottom left corner. Player Two then placed their first mark in the bottom right corner. Player One countered by placing their second move in the top left corner, while Player Two followed up it by placing their second one in the middle space in the left column. So, if Player One makes their next move in the upper right corner, they've set themselves up for two possible winning solutions — which means the game is pretty much already won.

4. Finish It Off


Place your final marker, and victory is yours!

If You're Player Two:

1. Center Yourself

Literally. If you're Player Two, make your first mark in the center square.

2. Block It Up

Then just keep blocking every successive move Player One makes. To be fair, you won't actually win this way — but you will prevent Player One from winning, resulting in a tie. All's fair in love and Tic Tac Toe, right?

Watch the full video below for more:

DaveHax on YouTube

Images: Tim Pierce/Flickr; DaveHax/YouTube (6); Giphy