Most Popular Chinese Drinking Games for KTV Nights
Drinking games have a long and rich history in China, dating back thousands of years to the Western Zhou Dynasty, and were originally created to ensure that people didn’t drink too much, believe it or not.
Fast forward 3,000 years and the opposite seems to be true—if you've ever spent any time at a Chinese bar or KTV, then you know how popular drinking games are, and how quickly the drinks can add up.
Tang Dynasty games may have involved solving riddles, composing verses, or shooting arrows to determine who gets to drink, but drinking games today are a lot simpler.
Planning a KTV night? Here are four fun games to play while your friends sing their lungs out:
Chui Niu (Liar's Dice)
The most popular drinking game in China, Chui Niu (also known as Liar’s Dice, or simply Dice) was thought to have originated in Spain, before spreading to China via Hong Kong. Just about every bar or KTV will have the tools to play the game, which is simply a cup with five six-sided dice. It can be played with two players, but it’s a lot more fun (and messy!) with more players.
To play, each player shakes their cup and slams it face down on the table. Players then check what they've rolled without showing anyone else. Going around in a circle, players then bid on how many dice of a certain value are on the table, with each player upping the ante. The point of the game is to push your luck and bluff, without being called out for it, though since the forfeit is to drink, it’s debatable who’s really winning or losing!
For example, if player one bids “four 3s,” then the next player must bid a higher amount, like “five 3s” or “four 5s.” Each subsequent player must then increase the bid until someone decides that the bid is impossible and calls out “bu xing” (or not possible). If the total amount matches or exceeds the bid, then the challenger must drink. If not, the bidder drinks.
When it gets too noisy, hand signals can be used instead, with the first number indicating how many dice and the second the value of the dice. There are variations, such as whether 1s are wild, and whether players are out after a certain number of losing bids.
Regardless, chances are you (and everyone else) will get incredibly drunk playing the game, but you’ll have a great time doing so (though you may shudder the next time you hear the rattle of dice in a cup)!
Another popular game is Finger Guessing, which has been around for quite some time. It’s typically played with only two players, but you can play with more–the odds of guessing correctly decrease that way, but the odds of drinking increase.
As the name suggests, the point of the game is to guess how many fingers everyone is showing. Each player throws out both hands simultaneously, extending any number of fingers, while players take turns guessing the number of fingers that are showing at the same time. If you guess wrong (which will probably be the case), you drink.
You can also add an additional penalty drink if a player guesses a smaller number than they are showing in their own hand—believe me, this happens more than you think!
Shi Wu (Five Ten)
This is a simpler variation of the Finger Guessing game, and one with much better odds. Again, the point is to guess how many fingers are showing, but players are limited to zero (ling), five (wu), or ten (shi) fingers at a time.
Both players throw out both their hands at the same time with either a closed fist (zero) or an open hand (five) while they take turns guessing at the number. There are variations as to when someone has to drink, depending on how many times they guess correctly or incorrectly, but it's easiest to play where a wrong guess means you drink, while a correct guess means the other player drinks.
An additional penalty drink for guessing a lower number than what a player is showing in their own hand can also be added. It’s a fast paced game and a quick way to get drunk!
Two Little Bees
This game is best played with two players. Basically, both players start off by saying “Two little bees fly down to a flower and fly“ (or the much lengthier “Liangzhi xiao mifeng ya fei dai haucong zhong ya fei ya” in Chinese).
Then both players play a game of rock, paper, scissors (though the point isn’t winning at rock, paper, scissors itself). The player with the winning hand must pretend to slap the loser three times while saying “pya pya” while the loser pretends to be slapped while saying “ah ah.”
If both players show the same hand, then they must both pretend to kiss and say “mua mua.” Whoever messes up the sequence or words has to drink. And trust me, you will mess up after a few rounds!
These drinking games are a great way to kick off a night at the KTV, because, let’s face it, karaoke is a lot more fun when everyone’s had a bit (or too much) to drink. Plus it gives everyone else in the group something to do while one person belts out a drunken rendition of their favorite song, repeatedly.
As for what to drink, while baijiu may have been the traditional drink of choice in China, these days, you’re just as likely to see bottles of vodka, whiskey, or tequila. Just don’t forget to order some chasers to go along with those spirits or you may be in for a quick night! Beer or a can of Lunar hard seltzer are also great choices, especially if you plan to play a lot of drinking games.