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Wisconsin's SHAKE OF THE DAY: A Brief History & Tutorial for Bar Dice.

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Wisconsin is renowned for its vibrant bar culture, where locals and visitors come together to unwind, socialize, and partake in various games and activities. Among the many popular bar games in the state, one tradition stands out: the daily dice game known as "Shake of the Day." Let's take a quick dive into the history and allure of this beloved pastime that has captivated bar-goers throughout Wisconsin - and learn some tips on how to play like a WI native!

Origins and Early Beginnings:

The origins of "Shake of the Day" can be traced back to the mid-20th century when the practice of daily dice games gained popularity in bars across Wisconsin. The game was known by various names, including "Bar Dice" and "Poker Dice," but it eventually became widely recognized as "Shake of the Day."

Initially, "Shake of the Day" was played using five standard six-sided dice. The rules were relatively simple: participants would shake the dice in a cup or container and then reveal their roll. Depending on the establishment's specific rules, players aimed to achieve certain combinations, such as a straight, full house, or four of a kind. Prizes often included drinks, small cash rewards, or the honor of having their name etched on a bar's "Shake of the Day" leaderboard.

One of the key reasons for the enduring popularity of "Shake of the Day" is its inherent social nature. The game provided an opportunity for patrons to interact, engage in friendly competition, and form bonds within their local communities. It became a regular ritual for many bar-goers, fostering camaraderie and friendly banter among participants.

Insider Tips for Playing Bar Dice in PdC

Almost every bar in Prairie du Chien hosts a shake of the day. Many follow the typical "Yahtzee" type of game, where you try to get all dice of the same number - but the number is a pre-defined "Number of the Day"! If you're wondering what it means when you hear people shout, "What's the number??!" when they walk in - they're referring to the dice! PRO TIP - The Shake of the Day, technically means you get to try the shake ONE TIME per day. BUT, if you're lucky enough to be there when the bartender changes, you can do it again! Shake of the Day typically costs $1, and sometimes they'll have a bonus shake of some other type of game for an additional $1. Most bars keep a pool with all the money paid in a jar, and if you hit the winning number, you typically win half the pot. Slim chances, but good, cheap fun!

WARNING: If the bartender is swamped, don't ask to do the shake of the day!

And DO NOT put the dice back in the shaker before you pass it to the next person!

If you feel like shaking dice and you've already done your Shake of the Day, it's not uncommon for a group of people to strike up a private game of 6-5-4 (sometimes called Ship, Captain, Crew) at the bar. Everyone throws in an ante, and each person gets 3 shakes to roll a 6-5-4 (in that order) + the two highest remaining dice that you can. If you get 6-5-4 + 2 +7, you'd say "I got 9!!!". Then, the next person tries to beat your score of 9. If nobody qualifies, the pot doubles and you go around again. OR, if two people tie for the same high number, the pot doubles, and you go around again. It's exciting and fun! Here's a picture of the last time (and the only time) I've actually won playing a private game. And no, that's not a picture of an empty shot, it's a placeholder for a free drink from the last person that won! LOL It's customary to buy a round of drinks with your winnings!

Watch this spectacular video to become a dice pro before you ever step foot in the bar. (On mobile, click here to view full screen) Have fun!


Stay at the Corner Cottage

After a full day of exploring, head back to the Corner Cottage Vacation Rental, conveniently located just one block from Prairie's downtown River District. This mid-century modern, four bedroom home comfortably sleeps eight guests and features a private patio with plenty of off-street parking for your vehicles and boat.


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