They may not have had internet access, DirectTV or soap, but old-time seafaring folk certainly knew how to have fun! If you’re hosting a pirate theme party this year, or will be featuring pirates in a traditional Halloween party, you’ll want to know all about Liar’s Dice.
This centuries-old game is still fun today, involves a delightful amount of deception and will really get your party hopping. Choose this game to break the ice among your guests, or wait until the party is in full swing, then ask who’s game.
Guaranteed you’ll draw a crowd of both viewers and players as this fascinating game unfolds. Here’s how to play.
Back Up There, Matey…What is Liar’s Dice?
Liar’s Dice is a traditional pirate game of bluff, deception and chance. You play with 2 or more players, each with a cup and five dice. It’s great as a drinking game, an alternative to poker and, of course, a gambling game.
It was originally played by the Incas in South America, where it is known as Dudo or Perudo. It is said that Pizarro, Spanish conqueror of the Inca, learned the game from King Atahualpa. Naturally, the game quickly spread to those of the pirate persuasion. It was played in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which has certainly brought the game to a whole new generation of people!
Like all old drinking and dice games, this one has many variants. Here’s the most common version:
- All players place their five dice in their cup and vigorously shake, then slam down their cup. An exclamation of “Arrr!” is expected, especially if wearing pirate hats. Players may peek and look at the results of their dice.1’s or Aces are wild, but only if there is another die of the same number to make the wild card. So, if you have a 3 and a 1, you can make the 1 another 3 when you bid.
- A randomly or previously chosen person is the bidder, and guesses or calls how many dice of a certain face value is in play, including their own. So, they can call out “four 2’s” which means he guesses that there are at least four dice on the table with a face value of 2.
- The next person on the bidder’s left must then do one of two things – call his guess as a bluff, or raise the amount. If he calls his bluff, the play is over and everybody reveals the dice. If he raises the amount, it must be higher than the previous call. For instance, if the previous call is four 2’s, he can either say five 2’s or four 3’s.The next person then does the same – raises the amount or challenges the previous person’s amount as a bluff. It keeps going around the table until someone finally challenges the amount by calling “Liar!” So, this is a game not only of bluff but also of nerve, chance and calculation.
- Once a challenge has been made, everybody reveals their dice. If the actual dice amount between all players is more than what was called, the challenger loses. If the amount is less than what was called, the previous bidder loses (since the call they made is over the actual amount.)Since 1’s are wild, these dice become the face value of the amount that was called. So, if the previous bid was six 4’s, and there were actually four 4’s and 2 1’s, there would now be six 4’s, and the previous bidder wins.Finally, if the amount is exactly what the bidder guessed (if there were exactly six 4’s, or three 4’s and and two 1’s), everybody but the bidder loses a die.
- The loser or losers remove one die from his or her hand. The last person who still has dice wins.
- If it should come down to two players each having one die, then you call the spots on the two dice. So, if your die is a five, and you think the other person has a three, you call an eight. The second person then either challenges you or bids higher.