Bluff is a fun dice game that is centered on deceiving your opponents and the ability to maintain a poker face. The game originally comes from South America, where it is known by the names Dudo and Cachito, among others. In English, it’s often referred to as “Pirate’s Dice” or “Diception,” but most people these days know it as either Bluff, Call My Bluff or Liar’s Dice.
There are actually two different ways for players to engage in a game of Bluff. In a common hand game, every player has their own set of dice and they all roll at once. Bids are made based on the player’s own hand, as well as on the concealed hands of their opponents. In an individual hand game, however, one set of dice is shared between the players and bids are based on both the concealed and the visible dice of the other player.
Common Hand Bluff
Common hand games of Bluff begin with all of the players rolling a set of five six-sided dice on the table and concealing the result with the help of individual dice cups. The first player will then look at their own hand and announce their bid on how many dice will have landed on any particular number. This estimation is made based on the number of that dice that the player can see, but they must also try to guess how many dice with that same number will appear in the rolls of everyone else at the table. In Bluff, a 1 is generally considered to be wild and will count as the number that is currently being bid on.
After the first player has placed their bid, the next player to their left is allowed to either do the same or call the previous player’s bluff. If they opt to bid, it must be higher than that of the earlier player, either in the face value of the dice or in the quantity of them in the bid. For example, if the first player bids on three 5’s and the next player wants to raise the bid, they can bid that there are four 5’s or they can bid that there are three 6’s on the table. They cannot decrease the bid in either way. In the previous example, the second player could not choose to bid that there would only be two 5’s or that there would be four 4’s out.
If the second player decides to call their opponent’s bluff, they will normally call out “liar!” and all of the dice in play are then revealed. If the bid was right and there were at least as many of the dice on the table showing the specified face value as the bidder had bet on, the bidder is the winner. If there were fewer than the bidder had claimed, the challenger is declared the winner of that round.
If a challenge isn’t called, the game will work its way around the table, usually in a clockwise rotation. Each player gets a turn to either raise the bid in some way, or to call bluff on the previous player. In some variations on the game, however, players aren’t limited to crying bluff on just the player next to them. They can call out “liar” at any point in the game and on any player that they choose. In this case, if more than one player calls bluff on a bid at the same time, the one that is nearest the challenged player in the correct order of play is the one who wins the right to challenge. This player will be the one declared the game’s winner if the challenge proves to be right, as well.
There are also bidding systems in place in some games that allow a player to select a number of their dice for a re-roll, with any that are held over from the original roll revealed to the other players at the table. Another variant on the game allows a player to neither raise the bid nor challenge it, but to instead declare that it is “spot-on” correct. This results in all of the dice being shown and if the player was right, they are named the winner. This is the one case where the bidder can win only if the true number of dice shown is different from the number that they bid.
Individual Hand Bluff
In a game of individual hand Bluff, the play is more similar to a game of poker that is played with dice instead of a deck of cards. The basic goal remains to deceive your partner to the best of your ability and to suss out their attempts to fool you with their bids. This version of the game is intended for two players, with a set of shared dice that is passed back-and-forth. The first player will roll their “hand” and keep it hidden from the other player while they determine their next move. The dice hands are based on poker hands, which further enhances the familiar sense of the classic card game. There are three-, four-, and five-of-a-kind, a full house, a high or low straight and two pair combinations, and the player who is rolling can decide whether or not they want to re-roll some of their dice or, in fact, if they should re-roll all of them. The other player can then either raise the bid or call their bluff, at which point the dice are revealed and, by the same rationale as in the community hand version of the game, the winner is announced.
Every time that you pull the wool over the eyes of your opponent or successfully call liar on another’s high bid, your score increases and your control of the game grows. No matter which version of Bluff you decide to play, if you enjoy keeping others guessing while you read their moves like an open book, you’ll find a new hobby to love in this timeless game of dice and deception.