Ship, captain, and crew

Ship, captain, and crew

Ship, Captain, and Crew (also known as "Ship of Fools" or "Six Five Four") is a dice game of nearly pure chance. The game can be played with as few as two people, but is usually played in groups of five to twenty people.



The object of the game is to roll a six (the "ship"), a five ("Captain"), and a four ("crew") with three dice, and get the highest score with the other two dice ("the ship's cargo").


Each player antes at the beginning of the game. It is common for the first person of each round to set the ante for that particular round. The first player then rolls the dice. His goal is to roll a six, a five, and a four, in that order. Any dice which do not match the player's current goal can be rerolled as long as the "shooter" descends in order of six, five, four. A player gets up to three rolls to make the ship, Captain and crew. Once doing so, the remaining dice are added together to form the player's score. A player who makes ship, captain and crew in fewer than three rolls can choose to reroll the remaining dice, in hopes of a better score. It should be noted that if a player decides to continue rolling, their previous high score does not count towards their final score.

For example, a player's first roll may be 3, 3, 3, 6, and 4. Although the player rolled both a 6 and 4, they can keep only the 6. The player rerolls the other four dice, and gets 5, 4, 1, and 2, which gives them the ship (from the first roll), Captain and crew. The remaining dice are added together to form the player's score for this round. At this point, having rolled the dice only twice, the player can choose either to stay with the current score and pass the dice on to the next player, or to roll the dice a third time (setting aside the 6, 5 and 4).

Play proceeds clockwise. A player who fails to make ship, captain and crew gets no score for that turn.


The player with the highest score at the end of the round wins the entire pot.

Other Rules

When beginning the second round, play begins with the player to the right of the first player in the previous round. In other words, while gameplay goes clockwise, the first player of each round moves counter-clockwise.

A popular alternate to the above rule: The player who won the last round starts the next round.

In the event of a tie or draw, no one wins the pot; all players ante again and play another round.

Odds and Ends

The last person to throw the dice in a round is "the hammer." The current winning score is "the point." It's common to hear someone who not keeping up ask, "What's the point and who's the hammer."

A two is the lowest score and is called a "minimum". Double sixes, or scoring a twelve, is often referred to as a "midnight", most likely because 12 o'clock at night on a non-military clock is known as midnight. Scoring twelve after a previous player has already posted a twelve and thus forcing a draw is often referred to as "getting bit by the dream spider". The term "dream spider" is likely derived from the fact that the game is colloquially known as "shattered dreams" in some geographies, particularly New York City. Players often stay with their dice after achieving a score of nine or better (assuming no other player has an established point above their nine or better), but are often subjected to elevated pressure from players with a lower, or no score at all and are advised to "man-up" and "re-roll", thus discounting proven statistics and general logic for the sake of pure machismo. However, it is important to note that in some rare cases, even low scores sometimes win.

Once the standard "ante" game is mastered it is common, and highly entertaining, to begin to add various side-bets into the game. The baseline side-bet is betting whether someone will qualify or "come-out" during their turn. Qualifying simply refers to getting a "ship, captain and crew" during a turn. This bet is often referred to as a courtesy bet because it generally goes slightly in the favor of the roller, in fact, studies have proven the odds to be 0.54 or 54% in favor of scoring "some cargo."

* [ How to play battleship dice game] and other games.
* Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, Dec 2003 by Johnson, Roger W

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