How to Lose at Chinese Drinking Games

You might think  the title of this article a little strange. After all, the object of any game is to win, isn’t it? Why should Chinese drinking games be any different? Fact is, I don’t want to get your hopes up.  If you play Chinese drinking games, you’re going to lose, badly. The bright side is that you’ll always be the first to experience a buzz.

I have chosen easiest three games I have mastered the first one .. and I am working of the second… but  if you master these three games then you’ll already be better than I am.

BS! (Tóu zi/ Shǎizi)
Also known as Liar’s Dice, Pirate’s Dice (because it was in that movie with Johnny Depp), Bluffer’s Dice and a plethora of other names. I like this game because it’s slow and simple and even I can understand it.

How to play:

  1. All players have a cup with five dice. Everyone shakes the dice and slams the cup as loudly as possible on the table in front of them, allowing no one else to see their hand.
  2. Someone, usually the loser from the previous round, makes the first bid. A bid is your guess as to how many of a certain number of dice there will be when everyone’s hands are combined. For example, if there are two people playing and you’ve rolled three threes, then you might bid, “four threes” in the hope that your opponent has rolled at least one three. In every bar I have ever visited in China, one is always wild, unless the opening bidder chooses to bid ones, in which case they are no longer wild.
  3. The next person has two choices: They can either call the bluff or raise the bid. The important thing to remember is that the next bid always has to be higher in value or quantity than the previous bid. In other words, if you bid “four threes”, then my next bid could either be, “five threes” or “four fours”, but not “three twos”. The bidding continues until someone is ready to call the bluff. If there are two players and the bid gets to, “eleven sixes!” then it’s probably safe to say they’re bluffing.
  4. When a player calls the bluff, then all players raise their cups and the totals are counted. If the bid was “five threes” and there are at least five threes in the combined hands, then the player who called the bluff has to drink. If there aren’t, then the player who made the bid has to drink.

It’s definitely the easiest of the drinking games. For vocabulary, the only thing you need to know how to do in Chinese is count or hold up your fingers… actually most people can count to 10 in English, so your safe.

15, 20” (Shíwŭ èrshí)
I saw two people in a bar waving their hands up and down, sometimes open, sometimes in a fist, while frantically screaming, “ten!” “fifteen!” or “twenty!” I was confused and course about what the hell they were doing…. after watching a couple of times… I found that it is actually a very simple game, but the speed at which it is played can be a little crazy at times.  The more you drink the louder and faster it gets… ending in a fit of giggles.

How to play:

1)  Two people stand opposite each other, with their hands in the ready position –usually elbows pointed down and fists at shoulder level.

2)  Simultaneously, the two players say, (shí wŭ, èr shí) and bring their hands down to waist level. Each of their hands will either be open, or closed in a fist. A closed hand represents, zero, and an open hand represents five.

3)  At the same time as the hands reach waist level, both players yell out a number. This number is supposed to represent the total value of all four hands added together. As there are only four hands, there are five possible results:

1. 0 (méi yŏu): All four hands are closed into fists
2. 5 (wŭ): Three fists and one open hand
3. 10 (shí): Two fists and two open hands
4. 15 (shíwŭ): Three open hands and one fist
5. 20 (èrshí): Four open hands

4)  Usually, both players will be incorrect, in which case steps 1-3 are repeated at a rapid (meaning lightning fast) pace. If one of the players happens to shout a number that actually corresponds to the combined value of the hands, then the other person drinks. It is also possible to “foul” if you yell a number that is made impossible by the hand combination that you have chosen.

For example:

A.  If you have one or both hands open, and say “méi yŏu!” That is a foul, because it is not possible to be have zero if you yourself already have five

B. If you have no hands open, and you say “shí wŭ” or “èr shí” – those would also be impossible situations, causing you to foul.

C. If you have both hands open and you say “wŭ” you would be committing a foul.

It sounds simple enough, but the trick is in the blinding speed. You also have to be able to say your number, hear the other person’s number and count the hands all at the same time.

In my experience, this game usually consists of me shouting random numbers at the top of my lungs, (SEVENTEEN?!) and the someone telling me to do another down another beer.

It is possible that there are those of you out there who find these first two games are too easy and you want a greater challenge. I respect you for that. At the same time, I pity your naivety.

The bees and the flowers (Liăng zhĭ  xiăo mìfēng)
This game is not simple. This game is not for the faint of heart. However, since this game might be the only way you ever get to kiss that sexy, hot guy or girl in front of you, I suggest you learn it well,  grasshopper.

How to play:

  1. The first thing you need to do is memorize this short poem,  (liăng zhĭ xiăo mìfēng ya, fēi dào huācóng zhōng ya), which essentially translates as “Two little bees fly into the flowers.” Got it? Good.
  2. Next, you need to learn the dance that goes with the poem:
  3. For (liăng zhĭ xiăo mìfēng ya),cross your arms in front of you while making wings with your hands.
  4. During (fēi dào huācóng zhōng ya), keep making the wings, but now they are out by your shoulders.
  5. Now is where it gets fun.. kind of…: The two players say the rhyme and do the dance together.
  6. After the rhyme is completed, both players say  (fēi ya) and bring their hand down to form a rock, paper or scissors. (I’m assuming you can already handle that part of the game…yes, there is a game within the game. the crazy Chinese have to make things so complicated)
  7. If both hands are the same, (two rocks, etc.) then the two players give each other  little air kisses on both cheeks. It’s important to make good kissing noises.
  8. If the hands are not the same, then the player with the winning hand “slaps” the player with the losing hand twice while saying, “piao piao” (Again, just like the kisses these are air slaps, so exercise the appropriate amount of caution.) At the exact same time, the player with the losing hand whips their head back and forth as though being slapped while saying, “Ah, ah!”
  9. Step four is repeated at the usual Jackie Chan vs. Jet Li speed, until someone…in this case the foreigner…messes up and kisses when they should slap, slaps when they should kiss, slaps when they should get slapped, or gets slapped when they are the ones who should be doing the slapping. It ain’t easy being a pimp.

I know, these games sound silly.. and crazy… and even difficult… to remember… . But there is a plus side. You will drink. You will have fun. And when all else fails, you can teach your Chinese friends how to play quarters.. or yuan.. in this case…

until next time….


8 thoughts on “How to Lose at Chinese Drinking Games

  1. Randy

    Yeah, sooooo confused 😦 This is why I don’t drink….

    Would Chinese people make me drink?
    Ugh,…. Alcohol. haha
    Ah good times 🙂

  2. Tori

    The second game seems like fun. I’d like to try that one! Although, like you, Jo, I’d probably end up yelling out some random number…”28!!”
    The third one…well…it’d be fun to try, but if I have to drink when I lose….then I’d end up passed out in a corner with alcohol poisoning after about twenty minutes (haha)….I agree with Trina…I’d need to be with some really, really good friends.

    1. oh.. they think it is so funny that i cant keep up with the speed.. and get the number all mixed up…actually .. it is fun… good thing I can laugh at myself… the great thing is this… the beer is really weak.. like drinking water… soo.. we can drink a lot of it.. and we are bigger.. hehehe… you just have to go pee all the time… which they think is a riot… good fun had by all….

  3. Ok, you lost me on the 2nd game. All I could hope for are some really (really!) good friends, because I would NOT be able to make it home on my own… ;o)

    1. Mah Jong… oh my goodness.. this game is just too much thinking… to be even fun…hehehe.. they play it everywhere around here… it is not the little online matching game… the Americans think it is.. it is a hybrid of … rummy, dominoes, poker and yantzee…. all rolled into one… I cant even right a blog about how to play it.. because… I cant understand it… hehehe.. do you notice.. that every game Chinese folks play have to do with math…?(smile) Oh.. and in China .. everyone plays drinking games.. old and young… no age limit…drinking has not age limits

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