How to Play Bar Dice

By Dana Severson
Five dice are necessary to play the "Ship, Captain and Crew" dice game.

Most bar dice games are played with a set of five 6-sided dice, and don’t necessarily need to be played at a bar—though it helps. Typically, each player takes a turn rolling the set of dice to either out-do their opponents or accrue points. Let’s take a look at a few of the classic (Midwest) bar dice games and break down how to play them.

SHIP, CAPTAIN, CREW

Each player will take a turn rolling a set of five dice. Each turn will consist of three shakes to accrue points.

The dice are rolled. You are looking for your ship (6), your captain (5) and your crew (4). You must get each before you can accumulate any points, and they must be rolled in order—you’ll need a ship before you can have a captain and a captain before you can get a crew. Points are only tallied from the last two dice. Highest score possible is 12.

If you get all three (captain, ship and crew) in your first roll, you’ll have two more shakes to get points. If you get only the ship, you’ll need to find the captain and the crew before you can rack up any points. In turn, if you get only the captain or the crew, all five dice will need to be rolled again—you need to secure a ship first.

If you are unable to get the ship, captain and crew in your three rolls, the dice are turned over to the next player and you are awarded no points for the round. Highest total points win.

KLONDIKE

Each player will again take turns rolling a set of five dice. Each turn consists of one roll and the values of this roll are assigned based on poker.

The dice are rolled and ranked from high to low. You are looking for combinations (in ranking order): -- Five of a kind -- Four of a kind -- Full House -- Three of a kind -- Two pair -- One pair

Dice are passed to the next player, and he or she is tasked with beating the first roll. If the first player rolls two pair—a set of 5’s and a set of 3’s—the next player can still beat this shake with two pair, but must be a higher dice value—two 5’s and two 4’s or two 6’s and any other pair. If player doesn’t beat first hand, the dice are then passed to the next player and game continues until all players have rolled.

Some variations include two shakes per turn. Play is exactly the same.

TALLY-HOLD

Each player will take a turn rolling a set of five dice. Each turn will consist of three shakes to accrue points.

The dice are rolled. You are looking to tally the most points within your three shakes. Set aside any die (or dice) you want to keep and re-roll the remaining. Those dice kept aside are locked and cannot be rolled again during your turn. After all three rolls, points are tallied.

All five dice are passed to the next player. This player is tasked with beating the first opponent’s score. If they do not, they are out of the game. If they accumulate more points in their three shakes, the first player is out and the dice are passed.

After all player have rolled, highest score wins.

Things Needed

  • Dice (a set of five)
  • Tumbler (optional)

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.