The movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” has created a common misperception amongst many people over the actual rules of this game by introducing a challenging variant. There are also many marketed versions, each with their own slight variations. Below are the rules for the original game, followed by the rules for the most popular variation.
Number of Players
2 to as many people bring dice.
5 six-sided dice per player. 1 dice cup, or upright screen per player (to conceal the players rolls from each other). A predetermined number of chips or counters (usually 10) per each player.
Each player rolls one die to determine who plays first (high roll wins). This player is known as the “caller.” Players then roll all 5 dice, this time keeping them concealed from other players. It is now up to the caller to announce a specific hand. Hand ranks are similar to poker, with one’s counting as aces, and therefore being higher than sixes. Hands from lowest to highest are:
- Runt (1, 2, 3, 5, 6…the dice equivalent of a “high-card”)
- One pair
- Two pair
- Three of a kind
- Low straight (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- High straight (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Full house (3 of one number and 2 of another)
- Four of a kind
- Five of a kind
The caller’s announcement must include specific numbers. For example, the caller cannot just declare a “three of a kind,” but must say “3 sixes” (or other number). Here’s the fun part…the caller’s announcement does NOT have to be their actual hand. In fact, they can declare any hand they want to. Once the announcement has been made, play passes to the next player who may do one of three things: announce a higher hand than the caller, re-roll their own dice (to try and actually get a higher hand), or challenge the caller and demand to see their dice. If a player opts to re-roll, they may do so 2 more times (for a total of 3 rolls per turn).
If the player opts to challenge the caller, the caller must reveal his or her dice. Then, if the caller’s dice show a hand equal to or higher than their announcement, the challenging player must place a chip in the pot, and the round ends. If, however, the caller is caught in a bluff, it is the caller who must surrender a chip. If the player opts to announce a higher hand than the caller, it may be any hand they wish…so long as it is higher than the announcement before them. Play then passes to the next player who has the same three options. After each round, play passes to the left with the next player in sequence becoming the caller.
Be the last remaining player with chips. When played as a betting game (with the chips representing real money), the last player standing wins the whole pot.
Okay, here is the one that caused the confusion. In the most popular variation (sometimes referred to as “Liar’s Dice,” or now, “Pirate Dice”) players determine a caller and roll their dice, only this time the caller does not announce a hand. Instead, the caller declares an estimate of how many of one specific number were rolled on all of the dice. So, for example, they might say “4 twos.” The next player is then presented with the same options as usual, but instead of a higher poker hand, they must make a higher estimate (for example, 5 twos…they may also declare any amount of a number higher than twos). Play then proceeds just as in the other version.