Chinese Dice Games

Chinese Liar’s Dice – 吹牛 chuīniú

Chinese Liar’s Dice (吹牛 chuīniú, pronounced chway-neoh) is a very popular dice game played in nearly every bar and club in China. It game is so popular that sometimes it is just called “dice” (色子 shǎizi, pronounced shy-zuh), although it’s formal name, Chuiniu acutally means “to bluff” or “bullshit”. The rules are similar to Liar’s Dice (wikipedia entry on Liar’s_dice) in the West. However, there are a standard set of rules that are used in China.

Setup

Each player needs:

  • A cup
  • 5 six-sided dice

In general, the number of players range from 2 to 4, but it can be played with more people.
In the Chinese version, “1s” are considered wild and can be used as the other numbers (2-6).

Objective

The goal is to either:
1. Make a bid that is valid
2. Declare a opponent’s bid to be not valid
A bid is valid if the bid does not exceed the combined total held by all of the players.

Game play

All the players shuffle their dice.
One player (generally the previous round loser) starts the bidding.
The player will make a bid such as “Three Fives”.
This means the player believes there are at least three dice that have rolled five between all of the players. This also includes dice that have rolled one (which are wild).
The player usually emphasizes this by making the Chinese hand signals:

Tip: An easy way to think of this is as a double-digit number. A bid of “three fives” is 35.

The play then go to the next player.
The next player has two choices:
1. Make a higher bid
2. Declare bullshit

Making a higher bid

A player can raise the bid by increasing the “units” digit or increase the “tens” digit.
The player could say “Three Sixes” (36) or “Four Twos” (42). However, the player could not say “Three Fours” (34).

Again, this is usually emphasized with the hand signals.

Once a player has made a bid, play moves to the next player who then must choose between raising the bid or declaring bullshit.

Declaring Bullshit

A player can declare bullshit when he believes the previous player’s bid is not valid.
He lifts his cup and reveals his dice.
All players then open their cups, and verifies if the bid is valid.
Remember, the bid is for the total number of dice between all the players.

Wild Cards

In Chinese Liar’s Dice, “1″ are considered wild. A hand of 1,1,3,4,5 can be seen as 2-6, 3-5, 3-4, 3-2, 2-2, 2-1.

However, if a player makes a bid including “1″ (example: “three ones”), then ones are no longer wild for the rest of the round. This is sometimes done as the first bid, and is usually played as an opening gambit.

Stakes

In bars and clubs, typically the loser is required to drink.
The game is also often played for money.

Variations

Out of turn calling
The game is played clockwise with each player waiting for the previous player to make a declaration. If a player decides to call bullshit out of turn (i.e. the player is not the one required to make a decision), the stakes are doubled.
No Wilds
Ones are not wild.


Example

There are three players: Ann, Bob, and Chris.


Chinese Hand Counting

These are pictures of the standard mainland China hand counting. These can be useful in a variety of situations.

Image taken from Wikipedia


Strategy

Bluffing
Counter-Bluffing