There are dozens of drinking games popular in China, and each game has dozens of ways to play. Most involve lots of hand gestures, and almost all should be played at high speed. Here are a few to get your night started.
Hooligan Dice (古惑骰)
This common bar game can be played with two or more people—you might have seen it in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Usually you use five dice in a cup per person. Each player shakes his or her cup and then turns it over, keeping the result secret from other players. Players then take turns guessing the total number of dice of a single number for all players. For instance, three twos or six fives. Hand signals are often used to designate the number of dice (to save your larynx in a noisy bar). Each player must make a guess larger than the previous player (six fives is bigger than six fours but smaller than seven twos). Guessing continues until one player 'calls' the player who just guessed. At this point, all players show their dice. If the actual number of dice is equal to or lower than the number guessed, the caller drinks; if the number guessed is larger than the actual number, then the guesser drinks. Ones are generally considered wild, unless someone specifically calls 'ones' (i.e., three ones). After calling ones, ones are no longer wild for the remainder of the current round. Bluffing is a vital element of this game.
Finger Guessing (猜拳 or 划拳)
It took four years in China before I could finally play this language-dependent drinking game. If you've seen men (it's almost always men) at restaurants or bars wildly throwing their fingers in each other's faces while screaming what sounds like different rhymes, then you've encountered this game. The rules are simple but strict: Two players face each other, count off, and show any number of fingers from none to five. At the same time players show their fingers, they call out how many fingers will be thrown up in total. For instance, if one player shows one finger and the other player three, then the total is four. If no one guesses correctly, then fists are thrown again and again until one player guesses correctly, at which point the other player drinks. Each time a new round begins, players either show a closed fist or one finger and simultaneously yell "哥俩儿好". Usually, it is not enough to scream just a number when guessing. In most cases a saying involving the number is used for each round. These sayings vary wildly and can be created on the spot the drunker you get, but you can start with these: 零宝, 一定高升, 二哥俩儿好, 三星高照, 四季发财, 五魁首,六六顺, 七窍七, 八匹马, 九长, 是满堂红. If you hesitate or mess up a saying, you have to drink. When played correctly, it should look like a fight is about to break out.
Finger guessing (simple versions)
For those who can't yell out Chinese sayings at a blistering rate, there are several simpler finger guessing games.
a) One popular version is fifteen-twenty (十五二十). Two players face one another. After screaming some qi-revving chant, at an agreed time, they throw out one hand, two hands or no hands. While throwing out hands, they each yell a number: five, ten, fifteen, twenty or zero, which is meant to be a guess at the total number of fingers. A correct guess means the other player drinks. If no one guesses right, repeat.
Players sit in a circle. Starting with the number one, going around the circle, each player yells out the next consecutive number. When a player's turn falls on either a number containing a seven (7, 17, 71, etc.) or a multiple of seven (7, 14, 63, etc.), he or she is to remain silent and slap the table. At this point the order reverses, and the previous player then calls out the next number. Counting continues until someone yells the wrong number, yells a seven, hesitates, or yells out of turn, at which point the offender drinks.
Two Bees (两只蜜蜂)
This game is a glorified version of rock, paper, scissors. Two players face each other and simultaneously yell: "两只蜜蜂呀,飞到花丛中呀,往左飞,往右飞,呸！" (liǎngzhī mìfēng ya, fēi dào huācóng zhōng ya, wǎng zuǒ fēi, wǎng yòu fēi pèi!—Two bees fly to the middle of the flowerbed, flying to the left, flying to the right). When the bees fly left and right, players should pantomime flying left and right. At "呸" players throw down rock, paper, or scissors. The winner then pantomimes slapping the loser's face while yelling "啪,啪" (pā, pā). Similarly, the loser pantomimes being slapped while yelling "啊,啊" (ā, ā). In the event of a tie, players pantomime kissing while making kissing noises. A player drinks when a mistake is made.
Tiger, stick, chicken, bug (虎棒鸡虫)
Another game that's similar to rock, paper, scissors. Two players face each other. At an agreed time, they simultaneously yell "老虎," (lǎohǔ/tiger) "棒子," (bàngzi/stick) "鸡," (jī/chicken) or "虫" (chóng/bug). Tiger eats chicken, chicken eats bug, bug eats stick, and stick beats tiger. Losers drink. In the event of no clear winner or loser, no one drinks.