Beneath its rather swashbuckling name, liar’s dice (known in Chinese as chuiniu, literally “to brag" or "to boast”) is actually a very simple game to learn. Originating in Spain, liar’s dice spread to mainland China via Hong Kong and is now one of the country’s most popular games. More recently, liar’s dice was introduced to many Westerners through Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest.
Ages: Approximately 10 and up
Type of game: Dice
Number of players: Two and up
At its core, liar’s dice is a bluffing and bidding game. You can use either standard dice or poker dice, which substitutes numbered dots for playing card representations.
Each player gets five six-sided dice, with cups used for concealment. Every round, each player rolls the dice under the cups and looks at his/her hand while keeping it hidden from other players. The first player then starts the bidding by giving a quantity and a face value for all the dice on the table. For example: five 2s, seven 3s, four 5s, and so on. The 1s are usually wild.
Each player then has two choices during his/her turn: make a higher bid or challenge the previous bid. Raising the bid means increasing the quantity, face value, or both. For example, if the first player says “five 2s,” then the following player cannot say “four 2s.”
If the current player decided to challenge the previous bid, everyone must reveal their dice. If the bid is equal to or less than the number of the dice of the same value, the bidder wins. If the bid is greater than the number on the table, the challenger wins.
The loser of the challenge has to take one die out of play and gets the first turn on the next round.
For a simple illustrated guide, visit this Instructables page.
Game over: The game ends when only one player remains. There are no ties in liar’s dice; however, an elimination round goes into effect if each of the remaining players has one die left. Instead of bidding on the number of a face value, bids are placed on the sum of the face value itself (in a two-player game, that’s the value of one die + value of the other die).
For more Chinese games like Go, San Guo Sha, and Dou Dizhu, enter “Chinese Game Spotlight” in our search box.
Photo by banspy (Flickr)