3 minute read

Pig is a pretty simple game that I use to play back in high school.  Back then I didn"t know any of the history or importance of this game or why people played, it was just a fun easy game to me and that’s all that mattered.

Pig is a jeopardy dice game.  In other words, a game where you have to decided whether or not to jeopardizes your previous gains by rolling for potentially greater gains.  The game was first described in print by John Scarne in 1945 (Scarne, John. 1945.  Scarne on Dice.  Harrisburg, PA: Military Service Publishing Co.) but was an original folk game with many variation in game play and rules.

Pig is often used as a simple and fun way of teaching probability concepts in middle school.  What are the chances that you will not roll a 1 on your 1st roll; on your 2nd roll, your 3rd, 20th, or 100th roll?  Pig is not only for middle school kids, it is also used in some college and university courses to teach probability, statics, computer sciences and cognitive systems (AI).

I have made a very basic online single player version of the game.  Pig The dice gameˆž

Teaching resources that use Pig to teach the concepts of probabilityˆž There are plenty of other good resources on amazon for probabilityˆž

What you need to play

  • 1 or more dice
  • 1 or more players
  • a sheet of paper for keeping score

How to play the game The player starts his turn by rolling a single die. If the player rolls 1, the player scores nothing and his turn ends. If the player rolls 2-6, the player adds the value to the turn total. After any roll that the player did not roll a 1 he may stop to add his turn total to his overall score and end his turn, or he can roll again and try for a higher score.

Example of game play Player 1 rolls a die and gets 2, his turn total is 2, he decides to roll again. Player 1 rolls and gets 4, his turn total is 6 (2+4) he decides to roll again. Player 1 rolls 6 more times with the series of 4,3,6,4,2,4 and decides to stop with a turn total of 29.  29 is added to the players overall score.  It the becomes player 2’s  turn. Player 2 rolls 5 times with the series of 4,6,6,6,1.  If he had stopped at 4 rolls he would have had 24 points, but since on his fifth roll he rolls a 1 he loses all his turn points and it become  player 1"s turn again.

Rule Variations Hog variation: You may use as many dice as you like but if you roll 1 on any of them your turn ends.

When playing with 1 die 6 is bad instead of 1.

When playing with two dice Doubles are good, count the total of both dice and double it€¦ 2+2 = 4 * 2 = 8 points for double 2s. Double 1"s are very bad, you lose points from your overall score.  Depending on who you are playing with it can range anywhere from 1-25 points.  10 points is the most common penalty. Big pig:  if two 1s are rolled the player gets an additional 25 points added to their turn score. Skunk:  Everyone starts be standing up at a table, as players hold or end their turn people start to sit down.  The last person still standing gets an additional 25 points.  This game is called skunk because you only play 5 rounds, one for each letter.  The first round is called €˜S", the second is €˜K", etc.

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