How to Play Liar’s Dice
Playing games like Liar’s Dice and mahjong is a popular pastime in Chinese culture. Throughout China, Liar’s Dice (說謊者的骰子, shuōhuǎng zhě de shǎizi) is played during holidays like Chinese New Year and at bars and clubs. Liar’s Dice is typically played as a drinking game but it can also be played for fun.
The fast-paced Chinese dice game can be played with two or more players and the number of rounds is limitless. Players can agree upon a predetermined number of rounds or set a time limit. Game play is casual because new players can be added each round, but playing Liar’s Dice can also be quite intense as the penalties for losing may include sipping an alcoholic drink like baijiu, chugging a shot of liquor, or paying money.
What You'll Need to Play
1 cup for each player
5 dice for each player
How to Play the Game
Place the dice in the cup.
Cover the cup with your hand.
Shake the cup with the dice inside.
Place (or slam) your cup upside down on the table. Keep your dice hidden from others.
Carefully lift the cup and peek at your dice. Be careful not to reveal your dice to other players.
The first player can be determined by rolling the dice and seeing who has the highest number or the winner from the previous round may go first.
The first player calls out two numbers: first, how many dice on the table he or she thinks have been rolled on a number between one and six. For example, player one could say “two fives,” which means he or she thinks there are at least two dice that are fives among all the players’ dice (including his or her own). At this point, all players can accept what has been called out and move on to player two or call player one out, which will end the round and result in a winner or loser for the round.
If player one calls out “two fives,” it does not matter whether player one has a five or not as bluffing is allowed (and encouraged) in Liar’s Dice. It only matters if another player believes player one is bluffing and calls him or her out on it. In that instance, everyone must remove his or her cups and reveal their dice. If player one is correct, the player who calls him or her out must take a sip of his or her drink, take a shot, or pay money. If player one is wrong, then player one must take a sip of his or her drink, take a shot, or pay money. The round is then over and the winner begins the next round of play.
If player one’s call is accepted, then player two calls out a number. The first number must be greater than what player one called. For example, if player one called out “two fives,” player two must call out three or higher for his or her first number, so “three fives,” “three fours,” or four twos” would all be acceptable. “one five” or “two sixes” would be unacceptable.
Game play continues around the table until someone is called out. Once a player is called out, the round is over. The next round begins with each player placing their dice in their cups, shaking them, placing their cups upside down on the table, and so on. The numbers that can be called out are reset with the first player (the winner from the previous round) having the ability to call out any number combination.
Tips for Players
In some parts of China, the one is considered a wild number, which means it can be any number between two and six.
When bars get loud and noisy, players may use hand signals rather than shout out their numbers. The hand signals are as follows:
One: hold up your hand and extend the pointer finger upward.
Two: hold up your hand and extend the pointer and middle fingers upward into a V-shape (like a peace sign).
Three: hold up your hand and extend the pointer, middle, and ring fingers upward.
Four: hold up your hand and extend the pointer, middle, ring and pinky fingers upward.
Five: Hold up your hand with all five fingers extended upward (like a stop sign) or pinch all five fingers together.
Six: Fold the pointer, middle, and ring fingers into a fist and extend the thumb and pinky fingers outward.
Seven: Make a fist and extend the thumb outward and pointer finger downward.
Eight: Make a first and extend the thumb upward and the pointer finger forward (like a gun).
Nine: Make a fist, extend the pointer finger and curve it (like making a ‘C’).
Ten: Make a fist or using two hands, extend the pointer finger of the right hand upward and with the left hand extend the pointer finger to the right and cross it with the right hand forming a + sign.
Some players choose to cheat by tipping the cup to turn over dice.