Macao is a dice game that can be very tense and exciting despite its simple rules.
Macao Rules - Game Summary
The object of the dice game of Macao is to be the player who scores a total of 9 points or comes the closest without exceeding that number.
Number of Players
Any (3 to 6 is best)
How to Play Macao
Macao is played in a series of rounds. Choose a player to take the first turn, then play will proceed clockwise around the table.
On your turn, take the die and roll it at least once. You may continue rolling as many times as you wish. Keep a running total of your points after each roll.
- If your score ever exceeds 9 points, you score zero points and are out for the remainder of the round.
- If you choose to stop rolling and have scored 9 or fewer points then your turn ends and your score stands.
Example: On your turn, you roll the die once. You roll a 1. You choose to roll again, and this time you roll a 6. So far your score is 7 points (1+6). You decide to stop rolling, so your turn ends.
At the end of the round, the player who achieved the highest score without exceeding 9 points is the winner. If two or more players have tied, have a playoff round to determine the final winner. The playoff round moves around the table counter-clockwise and begins with the tied player who had the last turn.
Once the round has ended, the winner receives 1 chip. Then the player to the left of the previous starting player begins a new round.
The winner is the first player to receive 3 chips.
Macao Rules Variations
There are a few rules variants for Macao that you can mix and match for variety.
Macao for Stakes
Macao may be played as a gambling game. In this version, all players start the game with chips. For each round, all players put equal stakes in the middle of the table and the winner of the round gets all the stakes. Decide before the game begins whether ties will result in sharing the pot or if a final winner will be determined by a playoff round.
This version of the game is like Macao for Stakes, but players must put a second stake into the pot if they exceed 9 points and drop out of the round.
A player who achieves a total of exactly 9 points on their turn instantly wins the round.
In this version of Macao, the game is played to either 12 points or 15 points instead of 9.
Pontoon (aka 21)
This version of Macao is played with two six-sided dice instead of one, and players are attempting to score no more than 21 points.
Begin your turn by rolling 2 dice. Once you reach a total of 14 or more points, continue your turn by rolling only 1 die.