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HOW TO PLAY
Balut is a game played for fun in teams or as groups of players, where the objective is to accumulate the greatest number of points over seven 'rounds' of play. At tournament level it is usual to play on tables of four, but Balut can be played with any reasonable number of players. The game set out below is known as the STC version of Balut, after the Singapore Town Club where these rules were adopted in 1978, and is played across dozens of Members' Clubs and bars across SE Asia. The International Balut Federation plays a different version.
Your require five standard dice, a pot or other receptacle for throwing the dice, a mat or other flat surface to play on and a score pad (see FAQ for sample) and pencil.
Each player in turn throws the dice up to three times. After each throw the player may take one or more die out of play or return one or more dice back into play. Once a die has been put back in the pot, however, it may not be taken out. At the end of three throws, or earlier if the player decides, the sum of pips on dice that remain (from the last throw and those out of play) are that round's score.
The score pad has seven rows and each row can be scored once and once only. If at the end of three throws the player has no score then one row must be 'scratched', that is deleted and not played for again. All scores are the sum of the pips on the dice, except Balut, which always scores 30 points. The scoring rows are:
- 4 - Any combination of fours (4,8,12 etc)
- 5 - Any combination of fives (5,10,15 etc)
- 6 - Any combination of sixes (6,12,18 etc)
- Straight - A line of 1-2-3-4-5 scoring 15 or 2-3-4-5-6 scoring 20.
- House - Three of one number and two of another: for example 3x6 and 2x5 scoring 28 or 3x1 and 2x2 scoring 7
- Choice - The sum of all the pips
- Balut - Five of any one number, always scoring 30
One player, designated as scorer, records the scores in a column on the score pad.
After the first player throws the second player throws and after the last player, the dice return to the first player and this continues until each player has thrown six rounds - each time scoring or scratching one of the rows - this leaves us with one vacant row against each player, or what we call 'Half Time'.
At 'Half Time' the scorer announces the scores so far for each player and what they have left to score. The round is then thrown and the scorer announces the scores.
If, after the dice are thrown, they do not lie flat on the mat, or designated surface, or they leave the mat, then the throw is deemed to be 'cocked' and the throw must be retaken.
Whilst Balut can be played for just fun it more usual to play in competitions and tournaments. In SE Asia the main international tournament is the STC Interport Balut Competition, which in 2010 is in its 30th year of play. Individual countries and clubs have their own tournaments: for example the British Club Bangkok has the Balut Cup played for once a year and the Balut Shield awarded for the best player over the Club's twice monthly tournaments.