How to Play Poker Dice

aka Yahtzee (TM)

hold hold hold hold hold
H A D 2 K N O W . o r g   P O K E R D I C E

Poker dice is played according rules similar to that of card poker. In poker dice, the object is the attain a combination of dice that ranks higher than your opponents' combinations. You get three chances to roll the dice, and you may hold any number of dice when you roll.

Yahtzee (TM) is a trademarked version of poker dice sold by Hasbro. In Yahtzee, the object is to attain different combinations and earn points for each achievement. The player with the highest score wins.

Below we explain the rules for each game below and explain the probabilities of rolling certain combinations. You can also try your luck with the poker dice/Yahtzee game above.

Poker Dice Rules

In traditional poker dice, each player has three opportunities to roll five dice. After the first roll, you may hold some dice and roll the remaining dice. After the second roll, you may hold more dice or release previously held dice before rolling for the last time. After the third roll, the dice are examined. There are eight possible outcomes shown in the table below. The right column shows the probability of attaining each outcome in a single throw of the dice.
RankCombination NameProbability
HighestFive of a Kind1/1296 = 0.0007716
2Four of a Kind25/1296 = 0.01929
3Full House25/648 = 0.03858
4Straight5/162 = 0.03086
5Three of a Kind25/162 = 0.1543
6Two Pairs25/108 = 0.2315
7One Pair25/54 = 0.463
LowestHigh Card (High Die)5/81 = 0.06173

Note that even though a straight is harder to roll than a full house, full house outranks straight. Also note that the probability of having nothing but a high card is quite low, only 6%.

Yahtzee Rules and scoring

In Yahtzee, you score points for making some of the poker dice combinations above, plus other combinations not listed above. In a typical game, each player has 13 turns to make each combination, in any order. As in poker dice, players are allowed three rolls per turn. Here are the 13 scoreable combinations:
Onessum of the 1'sChancesum of the dice
Twossum of the 2'sThree of a Kindsum of the dice
Threessum of the 3'sFour of a Kindsum of the dice
Fourssum of the 4'sFull House25
Fivessum of the 5'sSmall Straight30
Sixessum of the 6'sLarge Straight40

  • Small Straight: A straight on four dice; 1234, 2345, or 3456. The probability of rolling this combo is 10/81 = 0.1235.
  • Large Straight: A straight on all five dice; 12345 or 23456.
  • Yahtzee: Five of a kind.
  • Chance: Simply the sum of the dice.
  • Bonus: When a player attains a subscore of at least 63 on the ones, twos,..., sixes, then the player gets an additional 35 points. In order to earn a score of at least 63 on the first six categories, one should roll at least three ones, three twos,..., three sixes.
Additionally, there is the chance of earning a Yahtzee Bonus. This is worth 100 points if the player makes more than one yahtzee in a game. If a player receives one or more Yahtzee bonuses, the player may require more than 13 turns to complete the game.

© Had2Know 2010