Balut, a game of dice that is often compared to the American game of Yahtzee, is played with a wide variation on game protocol depending on where it is being played. What started as a diversion for an American soldier who was stationed overseas has slowly but surely become a popular game throughout Asia that has an especially large Danish fan base.
Edgar Woolbright initially conceived the idea for Balut while he was serving in the Philippines during World War II. He developed it as an alternative to poker and used the dice in place of cards. That gave the game its first name of Poker Dice, but when a young Dane named Niels Lumholdt decided to introduce it to his homeland, he changed the name to Balut for the duck egg delicacy that is sold on the streets of Manila.
How to Start Playing Balut
A game of Balut consists of twenty-eight rounds wherein the player rolls the dice in order to score from one of the seven categories that have been established. The categories are 4’s, 5’s, 6’s, Straights, Full House, Choice and Balut. The player must score in each of the categories at least four times in order for it to be factored into their final score.
Players begin by rolling five dice and are given the chance to decide which ones they want to keep and which ones they would like to re-roll. They can re-roll as many of the dice as they like, and they can re-roll up to two times. Once you’ve finished your rolls, it’s time to record your run in one of the categories on the scorecard. Each category will be scored according to its own requirements.
Balut Game Categories
The 4, 5 and 6 categories are scored based on how many of the target number are present in the roll. If a player rolled a 2, 4, 5, 5, and 5, for example, it could be scored in a couple of ways. If they needed points in the 4 category, they could take four points for the single 4 that appears in their hand. If they needed points in the 5 category, however, they could take fifteen points for the three 5’s that are in the hand.
Straights in Balut are the same as straights in poker. They are a consecutive sequence of values in a hand. There is a small straight, which is a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 sequence, that is worth fifteen points. A large straight is a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 sequence, and it is worth twenty points, Both of these point totals are based on the sum of the face values of the dice, e.g. 1+2+3+4+5 = 15 and 2+3+4+5+6 = 20.
Just like in poker, a Full House in Balut is three-of-a-kind and a pair. The score for a full house is tallied based on the face value of the dice that are rolled. A player who rolled a 2, 2, 2, 4 & 4 would receive fourteen points for their Full House because the total sum of all of the values in the hand comes to fourteen.
The Choice category is a bit of a wild card roll. A player can decide to take any hand that they roll and add up the value of the dice that come up for a score in the Choice column.
Finally, Balut is when a player rolls five-of-a-kind. This hand wins the value of all of the die faces values added up, plus an additional twenty points.
The game is over when all of the categories have been scored at least four times. At this point, players receive their final score of the game based on how many of the requirements they met in all of the categories.
This is one dice game that is easy to learn and that can provide hours of entertainment once you get the hang of it. Balut serves as a unique alternative to the game of poker and a great source of fun for gamblers all over the world.