What are Some Dice Games?

Brendan McGuigan

There are a myriad of different dice games in the world, some dating back thousands of years. Dice games make use of a single die or a number of dice, often as their only real component. This makes them cheap and easy to carry around, and the rules to most dice games are very simple, making them ideal for gambling. As a result, dice games have been played for money for centuries, and in ages past were a common staple of any bar or gathering.

Craps is a popular dice game played at casinos.
Craps is a popular dice game played at casinos.

One of the ancient dice games, dating back at least to 14th century England, is Hazard. Hazard is played with two dice, and in spite of its fairly complex rules, was enormously popular throughout England. It was a staple gambling game through the 17th and 18th centuries, leading to all games of chance eventually being referred to as hazard games. Hazard involves one person throwing two dice, after choosing a number between 5 and 9 to be the main. Depending on what is rolled, the die caster can win, lose, or chance, in which case he keeps rolling. After three consecutive losses, the dice pass to the left, who is the new caster.

Numerous table top games feature the use of dice as an impactful tool for a player's progression throughout the game.
Numerous table top games feature the use of dice as an impactful tool for a player's progression throughout the game.

One of the more modern dice games, seen in most casinos, is craps. Craps is essentially a simplified version of Hazard, where the main is always set as the number 7. Craps in a casino is usually played against a bank owned by the casino, but the game can easily be played in less formal situations too, where the bank is made up of other gamblers who cover the bets against the dice. In a casino context, although only one person is the shooter and actually throws the dice, many players can bet on that player’s rolls. Craps is a game of pure chance, in which the house tends to have an edge of a bit less than 1.5% for 1:1 payouts, and a bit less than a 14% edge on 30:1 odds given on rolls such as a straight roll of a 2 or a 12.

Liar’s dice is another of the popular dice games, originally popularized by the Spanish in Latin America during the 16th century. There are many variations on liar’s dice, and it is well-known historically as being the game of choice among pirates. Many forms of liar’s dice are played between two players, but a number of variants can be played with as many players as you want. At its core, liar’s dice is about deceiving your opponent, and trying to read whether or not they are deceiving you. The dice are rolled while being hidden, and bids are made based on what the player says they have rolled. When the turn comes to a player, they may choose to challenge the previous bid if they think the previous player was lying. Liar’s dice can be played with normal pipped dice, or may be played with special dice that have various playing cards denoted on their faces to make poker hands.

Other popular dice games include Tabula, Pig, Shut the Box, Chingona, Cee-Lo, Three’s Out, Dudo, Zonk, Greed, and Mexico. Many dice games, such as Yahtzee and Backgammon also use dice as their primary component, although the games usually require additional pieces or boards as well.

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Discussion Comments


One currently popular dice game that I *hate* is Bunco. I swear, people who play Bunco are fanatics about it! I went to a Bunco party one time. They had four tables. I was eliminated in the early round, so all I could do was sit and watch everyone else and be summarily ignored. That's happened every time I've ever been. Everyone is so absorbed in the game that they don't talk to anyone else.

Bunco seems to bring out the worst in some people. It's really a strange phenomenon.


I really like Yahtzee. I haven't played it a lot, but when I have, I've enjoyed it. It can be a little frustrating to get the required combinations, but it's usually just a lot of fun, and it doesn't take all night to play.

Backgammon is fun too, but it does take some skill and strategy. It's partly based on chance, but also on how well your opponent can out-think you. That's one of those games I learned on the computer, and I got my tail kicked regularly. Finally, I learned the strategy and it's a more even playing field, now.

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