Last Updated on April 4, 2020 by Jake
Liar’s Dice is a game of probability, deception, and bluffing that is tons of fun for casual and serious players alike. You might also remember the game making a special appearance aboard the Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest for high stakes.
Not every game of Liar’s Dice has to be that intense. The game is actually very simple to learn and the rules are easy to get down after a few times playing the game.
Liar’s Dice Game Set Up and Objective
Liar’s Dice is best played with 2 to 6 players. The objective of Liar’s Dice is to be the last player standing.
- 6 cups (one for each player).
- 30 dice (five for each player, ideally each set of 5 is a different color).
- 1 carry bag to easily store the set when you aren’t playing.
All players take one cup and 5 dice each. To decide who gets to go first, each player should roll one of their dice. Whoever rolls the highest number gets to start the first round of play.
How to Play Liar’s Dice
Each player shakes all five dice in their cup and turns the cup over on the table. Make sure that you hide your dice from other players. You can do this by shielding using your cup and hands.
Players then begin bidding strategically on how many dice of a certain number are on the entire table, including their own. The starting player begins the process by saying, “I make a bid of six twos on the table”.
One major caveat to Liar’s Dice is that ones (or “aces”) are considered wild and as such are counted towards the total number of whichever number has been bid.
So if you made a bid of six twos, you are really saying that you think there are at least six twos and ones on the table between all of the players.
After the first player makes their bid, play moves clockwise from the starting player and the next player can do one of two things:
- Raise the bid.
- Challenge the previous bid by calling the previous player a liar.
Raising the Bid
Bidding on Dice Values Between Two and Six
If you don’t want to challenge the previous bid, you can raise the bid by either the quantity or value of dice, or both. If the previous bid was six twos, some examples of potential raised bids are below:
- Seven twos (a raise of quantity of dice only)
- Six fives (a raise of value of dice only)
- Nine fours (a raise of both value and quantity)
One important caveat, the value of dice on a raised bid can potentially be lower, higher, or the same value than the previous bid. The quantity of dice can only ever increase or stay the same though.
For example, a bid of five fours can be raised to a bid of six twos. The quantity of dice increased but the value of the dice lowered.
Bidding on Ones (aka Aces)
The rules for bidding on ones are probably the most complicated concept to grasp in Liar’s Dice. Bidding on ones does not follow the rules described above for bidding on twos through sixes. Players can bid on ones at any time but they must follow the below guidelines.
When raising a bid of twos through sixes to ones, you must halve the quantity of the previous bid. If the previous bid was an odd number then you must round up.
For example, when a previous bid was for six fours, a raising bid could be for three or more ones. But, if a previous bid was for seven fours, a raising bid could be for four or more ones.
When the previous player bid on ones, you can only increase the quantity if you are going to stick with ones. So if the previous bid was four ones, the next bid must be five or more ones.
You can also raise the bid from ones to a value between two and six. When this is done, you must double the quantity of ones from the previous bid and add one. So if the previous bid was for three ones, the next bid must be for at least seven (three times two plus one) dice valued between two and six.
Challenging the Bid
If you think the previous bid was a bluff or doubt the probability of the bid, you can call the previous player out as a Liar.
Once a challenge is made every player at the table must reveal their dice. At this point all dice are counted to determine if last bid made is true or false. Don’t forget to count the ones towards the total if the last bid had a value of two to six!
When the counted dice are less than the bid, or in other words if the last bid was false, the bidder loses that round and they must surrender one of their dice to the center of the table.
If the counted dice are equal to or greater than the last declared bid, the person who called out the player must then surrender one of their dice to the center of the table.
A challenge ends the current round. To begin the next round, all players shake their cup and turn their dice over on the table again. There will be one less total dice on the table for each subsequent round. The person who lost a die in the previous round will be the starting bid for the new round.
After a player runs out of dice, they are out of the game. Play continues all the way until there are only two players left with dice left. The winner of the game is the last player with at least one dice remaining.
Tips and Strategy for Liar’s Dice
As the game progresses, keep in mind that more and more dice are taken out of the game. This has quite a few implications. Namely, bids of high quantity become riskier and riskier.
The probability of six fives being on the table is relatively high when there are 30 dice on the table, but relatively low when there are only 12 dice on the table.
Don’t be afraid to bluff. Understanding probability is key to being successful at Liar’s Dice, but if you really want to be an advanced player you really need to know when and how to bluff.
Every so often I will bluff on purpose just to remind the other players of the table that I’m not afraid to do it. If somebody keeps bidding a dice value of six, for example, I may continue to outbid them on sixes even if I don’t have any.
This could make them bid such a high quantity of sixes that you will likely be successful when challenging them. Even if you get called out and lose, it can be worth it to play the mind game with your competitors. Just a little reminder that you’re willing to bluff and keep them off balance.
One advanced strategy that I will use from time to time is this: During the first couple of rounds of bidding I will bid on dice values that I don’t have any of.
The probability of getting challenged in early rounds is low. It can throw competitors off when you switch things up and start bidding on different dice values in later rounds.
This is a strategy that won’t be effective if you use it every time, but when used sporadically it can be extremely effective.
Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API