Liar’s Dice is a traditional dice game in which Players attempt to deceive their opponents, and use the secretive nature of their rolls to manipulate other Players into incorrectly challenging a reasonable bid. This will all be explained further in the guide.
Liar’s Dice, in its most basic form, is over 500 years old. The game was popular in Spain, particularly among sailors. The game spread all over the world via the sea trade, and today is seen as one of the stereotypical activities of pirates, among drinking grog and swashbuckling.
The game truly was popular among pirates, thanks to the game’s popularity among sailors, as well as its use as a “Winner-Take-All” gambling game.
How to Play Liar’s Dice?
Liar’s Dice is best when at least 4 Players are participating, though 6 is recommended.
Players will need the following materials to play a proper game of Liar’s Dice:
- Five six-sided dice for each Player in the game.
- A non-transparent cup that cannot be seen through for each Player.
- Some form of Money, if playing as a gambling game.
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Determining the First Player
Before the game can begin, Players must determine the first Player to make their bid. This is done by having each Player roll one die, with the highest roll taking the privilege of the first bid.
If there is a tie, those tying Players will continue to roll dice until there is a decisive winner.
Starting the Game: Rolling and Making Bids
- Players simultaneously take their dice and place them into their cups.
- They shake the cup with the dice inside and slam it onto the table, ensuring all dice are rolled, but the outcomes are concealed from other Players.
- Players can peek under their own cup to see their dice but cannot view other Players’ dice.
- The Player with the highest initial roll gets to make the first bid.
- This Player looks at their dice and declares a number between 2 and 6.
- They complete their bid by declaring the number of dice they believe match their chosen number.
In a 6-player game of Liar’s Dice, with 30 total dice on the table, Player 1 might bid, “4s, 12,” or verbally say, “There are 12 fours.” This means Player 1 is betting that there are at least 12 fours on the table in total.
Progression of Bidding
Once a Player has made a bid, the turn order continues to the left, and the next Player has two choices:
- They can make another bid, higher than the previous bid.
- Or, they can challenge the previous bid.
Rules for Making Bids
- The number to be increased in the bid is the number of dice, not the value of dice.
- Players cannot bid on the number of 1s on the table.
Challenging a Bid
- A challenge is initiated by a Player declaring “Liar” instead of making a bid.
- At the point of a challenge, all bidding ceases, and the previous top bid becomes the locked-in bid for the round.
- All Players lift their cups, and the top bid is compared to the actual sum of the dice.
Outcome of a Challenge
- If the Bidding Player was correct (the number of dice matching their bid is greater or equal to their bid), the Challenging Player loses one of their dice.
- If the Bidding Player was wrong (their bid was less than the number of matching dice on the table), the Bidding Player loses one of their dice instead.
Continuation After a Challenge
After a challenge, successful or not, all dice are returned to their cups (minus the die removed from the losing Player). The next Player to make the first bid is the Player to the immediate left of the previous first bidder. The game continues with Players bidding until the next challenge occurs.
End of the Game
The game continues until there is only a single Player with dice remaining in their cup at the start of the round. This last remaining Player becomes the winner.
Liar’s Dice is a Winner-Take-All style of game, in which scores are not really kept. There is only one final winner, such that scores do not need to be compared.
During the course of the game, one could consider the number of dice a Player has left their “Score”, and when that score becomes 0 they lose the game.
When Playing for money, the “Score” can then be thought of as the total pool of money available, with the single last Player taking the entire “score” for themselves.
Liar’s Dice Rules Summary
In short, the game rules can be explained as follows:
- Players must bid or challenge on their turn. There is no passing your turn in Liar’s Dice.
- Players can bid as high as they want, though there always exists the risk of being challenged.
- When dice come up as 1s, those dice are “wild-dice.” As such, 1s will always be added to the Top Bid for the purposes of comparison.
- Dice removed from a Player should be kept in the center of the table, such that Players always know the total of dice is: 5*(Number of Players)-(Center Dice)
Suppose that you are Playing a game of Liar’s Dice with six other People. The previous Top bid is “9 Fours.”
Your dice are the following:
6 – 2 – 5 – 3 – 3
Although you have no fours under your cup, there are five other Players at the table. The odds of each other Player having one or two 4s under their cup is not unreasonable.
Further, don’t forget that 1s are wild-dice, and will also count towards that total. Challenging such an early bid, when there are still 30 dice in the game, is rather risky. The right move here is not to challenge, but instead to bid again.
A low-level bid, only a single number higher than the previous bid. This allows you another chance to stay in the game without taking a bad challenge. Further, if you were unwilling to challenge a 9-dice bid, then the next Player will also be unlikely to challenge your 10-dice bid.
So, for example, simply bid that there are ten 2s, hopefully, go unchallenged, and allow the turn order to continue.
By the time it is your turn again, even if each Player only bids one number higher each turn, a challenge will be far more likely to succeed.
Strategy and Tips
Liar’s Dice, in a way similar to Poker, is a game of deception and psychology. Players can take advantage of the fallacies humans often use when they are gambling to win this game.
Just like in Poker, Players are attempting to alternate between bluffing and making reasonable bids to fool other Players into letting their bid go without challenging it, or challenging it when it would be advantageous for the Bidder.
Many people feel that 6s are especially difficult to roll on dice, even though it is equally as likely to be rolled as any other number. Most people lack a real grasp of statistics, and as such you can use that to your advantage!
As 6s “seem” to be rarer than other numbers, Players might challenge a reasonable bid if it’s a bid made of 6s. A Bid of ten 6s might get challenged, while a bid of ten 3s might go ignored.
This can go the other way though. Don’t bluff a bid on 6s, or you’re more likely to get challenged on a bad bid!
Try to keep track of your bids
If you bid 15 5s, and then the next turn bid 20 3s, the other Players at the table will get suspicious. Players will assume you are making a high bid because you have a large number of those type of dice under your cup. Change it up too much in the same round, and the other Players might get suspicious!