How To Play Chinese Drinking Game

How to play a Chinese drinking game is as easy as counting the fingers on your hands. 15-20 is a popular and easy Chinese drinking game to learn that can be played with any number of people and only requires an optional beer or cocktail for each participant. Players alternate guessing the number of fingers extended on all players’ hands, either 0 for a closed fist, or 5 for an open hand. It sounds easy right? Not quite. You may know how many fingers you’re going to play, but you have no idea how many your opponents will play.

I thought this game was played with only two people? You may be thinking this if you're familiar with this game, but the more the merrier-especially when drinking is involved-so invite everyone to play. First, we'll learn the rules and this “number of fingers” business between two players, then move on to the fun part-getting all your friends smashed.

  1. 15-20 is short for 0-10-15-20. These are all the possible combinations of calls when the game is played with two people – 0 for both players having closed fists, 20 for both players having open hands, and 10 and 15 for all the combinations in between. Each round of play consists of two things happening at once, the show and the call.
  2. The show is when both players decide how many fingers to expose on both their hands. Opening your hand as if you’re shaking hands with your opponent counts as 5 fingers, and closing your fist as if you’re going to sucker punch your buddy counts as 0 fingers. With two players, you should be able to get into a rhythm where you are both showing at the same time and the game can move quickly. If you are having difficulty with this part, I’ll describe later how to sync up the show when played with several players. The show is half of how to play this Chinese drinking game.
  3. Happening simultaneously with the show from both players, one person must make the call. It doesn’t really matter who goes first, you trade turns very quickly. As the show takes place, the caller guesses how many fingers will be exposed total by both players. If the call is incorrect, then players once again show and call, with the other player being the new caller. If the call is correct, then players also show again but the caller remains the same. If that player guesses correctly again, then the other player must drink. The call is correct if the guess matches the total number of fingers exposed from both players. It doesn’t matter which hands are used or by which player.
  4. You've learned how to play the Chinese drinking game 15-20, now let's get to the fun part. To really make this game interesting, play with all your friends. The game basically remains the same as with two people, except that the caller rotates around the entire circle of players, and only one correct call is required to make everyone else drink. Also, the number of available fingers changes and so the calls will have a wider range – 0-30 for 3 players, 0-40 for 4 players, and so on. Don’t be scared, it’s easy to do math when drunk, right?
  5. To sync up the show with several people, the rock-paper-scissors method works well. The rock-paper-scissors method is a silent way of counting to three. Players raise their fisted hands to chest level, then down to waist level and that is the count of one. Up again and down again and that is two. Up once more and down once more and on the count of three, show.
  6. Penalty drinks should be issued for players making mistakes. This can either be showing too soon or too late, as well as calling late or out of turn. Likewise, ridicule should accompany penalty drinks for impossible calls, like a caller guessing 0 but showing 10 on their two open hands.

That's all there is to this Chinese drinking game. To enjoy this Chinese drinking game further, make up your own rules and penalties.

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