We used to play Hobin’s dice at big, Irish family reunions when I was young, and this past Thanksgiving, the Dyers introduced the game to #1GF!’s family. Even though I hadn’t played the game in 20 years, the game turned out exactly the same as it did when I was a kid. From kids to grandmas, everyone ends up having a rowdy good time.
While I don’t advocate illicit activities, the game is amazingly simple and fun, and holds a place as one of those fun family memories for me. If you’ve never seen your grandma getting rowdy at the dinner table, this is the game that will do it. Twenty years from now, I’ll guarantee that you smile whenever you think about it. I know I do.
Number of Players
The game can be played with any number of people, but works best with groups of 8 or more. The more people that you can get into the game, the better it is.
- 6 quarters per person
- 6 dice (scavenge them from old games or pick up a set for a couple of bucks)
- A paper plate or bowl to serve as the pot.
Note: Nothing will kill the momentum of this game faster than everyone hunting around for quarters and dice, so if you intend on introducing the game to a group, show up prepared. Estimate the number of people at a party and bring a resealable bag containing 6 dice and at least 8 quarters per person. That will ensure that you can make at least a couple of dollars worth of change for everyone.
Each player starts off with 6 quarters in front of them and the bowl or plate is placed in the middle of the table to serve as the pot.
The youngest player in the room starts and play passes clockwise. Players roll one die for each quarter they have in front of them, so the in the first round, everyone will end up rolling all 6 dice at once. If on a subsequent turn a player only has 3 quarters, they will only roll 3 dice. If they have more than 6 quarters, they will only roll 6 dice. The following actions are taken for each die rolled:
For each 1, 2, or 3
Nothing. This is a free pass.
For each 4
Put a quarter in the pot.
For each 5
Pass a quarter to the player counter-clockwise from you.
For each 6
Pass a quarter to the player clockwise from you.
Note: If you forget which direction the money should go, don’t worry. Other players tend to make sure that the money travels to them when it’s supposed to.
Special: The Loser!
If a player rolls all 4’s, 5’s, and 6’s, then they will be left with nothing at the end of their turn. Because this is uncommonly unlucky, all the other players must pound on the table shouting, “LOser! LOser!” several times as they pass away all their coins. This may sound mean, but it adds a bit of rowdy fun to the game. No one escapes this rule: Little kids get called loser, grandma gets called loser, and even your hobo blogger friend gets called loser if all of the dice come up unfavorably.
There is no out!
If a player runs out of quarters, they do not roll any dice, but they are not considered out of the game. It is common for a player with no quarters to be passed several during the course of the game to put them back into play.
The last person with one or more quarters wins all the pot.
The standard game costs each person 6 quarters to play, but 5 quarters can speed up larger group games. You can also vary the monetary amount per die (e.g. peanuts, M&M’s, dollar bills, etc.) to adjust for the general financial situation of the group.