What's the top game in China's nightlife? Liar's Dice!

Liar's Dice is a popular game in Chinese nightclubs and bars.

You're in China. And you're at the club. And everyone plays a game? Why are these cups and dice at every table.

You don't need to speak a word of Chinese to play it. Plus it's fun.

You want to have fun with your new Chinese friends, but they all play this strange game with cups and dice and odd hand signals. What is it?

It's called Liar's Dice - and it's in the top ten most popular games in China.

You don't need to speak a word of Chinese to play it. Plus it's fun. And easy to learn. Below I've outlined how to play the game, so you can have even more in common with your Chinese friends.

Plus you spare them the headache of explaining gameplay in a crowded, noisy dance club.

How to play Liar's Dice.

Each player has a cup and five dice.

Put the dice in the cup, cover the cup with your hand, and shake ‘em up. Then each of you puts your cup upside down on the table, keeping all the dice inside and hidden.

Then shake it up some more.

Then, each of you tips the cup slightly towards you. Take a glimpse at the dice you have, but don't let your friend peek.

When you do this, be careful not to shake or bump the dice. Unless you're trying to cheat... Chinese Smiley

At his point, the game really starts.

One player goes first. Sometimes it's the winner of the previous round. Let's say that you go first.

You call out 2 numbers. Or if it's too loud to hear, you make two successive hand signals. For instance 3 - 5. That means you believe there are 3 or more fives in both cups. Yes, you count your cup and the other players cup.

If you called out 7 - 4, that means you think there are seven or more fours in both cups. Got it?

Then it's your friend's turn. She calls out two more numbers. Note: the first number she calls must be larger than the first number you called out. The second number is anything from 2 to 6.

So if you started with 3 - 5. She could say 4 - 3. She could not say 2 - 6. The stakes must be raised with each turn.

Also, to make it more interesting, the ones are wild. So the 1 (which looks like a big red circle on the special dice used in China) can be anything you want it to be.

Chinese diceThe special Chinese dice used to play "Liar's Dice"

Remember that if there are 1's in your friend's cup, they are also wild. And they count for you as well.

At some point, one of you will have to call out something so absurd that the other player calls them on it. Yes, you are allowed to bluff. That's why it's called Liar's Dice!

When either of you calls a bluff - lift up both cups, and reveal all ten dice. If in fact there are 3 fives, or whatever was claimed, the claiming player wins the round. Otherwise the player was bluffing, so the player who called the bluff wins the round.

At this point, the losing player might pay a "previously agreed on" penalty:

  • Take a sip.
  • Finish an entire glass. Gan bay!
  • Pay up.
  • Kiss someone.
  • Remove an article of clothing.
  • Use your imagination.

Or just play for fun, without any penalty.

Lazlo's Chinese Relativity Axiom:

“No matter how great your triumphs or how tragic your defeats---approximately one billion Chinese couldn't care less.”

Advanced tips

Easy isn't it?

Well it can get more advanced. Especially if you play Liar's Dice for money - be careful. Some players take the game seriously! They devise, practice and refine discreet ways to change the dice during play.

For instance, some players pretend to be taking a glimpse under the cup. What they actually do is use the rim of the cup to turn one of the dice to a different number. This is very sneaky, so beware!


My strategy is to bluff early in the round and then become conservative. Most people don't call my bluff right away.

So I might say 2 - 5 even if I don't have any fives. This tricks the other person into thinking you have at least one 5.

It's a good idea to change your play strategy often.

There are lots of other strategies. If you are good at poker and reading people's faces - you will be good at this game too.

So now when you see groups of people in clubs with cups and dice speaking in sign language, you'll get it. And you can join in if you feel like it.

NOTE: In order to be understood over the loud music and noise in the club, use these hand signals when you play Liar's Dice. Chinese people use different gestures to count in Chinese - if know them, you'll have more fun!

Ready for the next level?

Dou Di Zhu is a popular card game in China, and much more challenging than Liar's Dice. Here's how to play...»

Chinese symbol for love

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