zonk out


[zongk, zawngk]
Zonk! is a dice game of unknown origin quite similar to Farkle. It is a social game where two or more players will smoke marijuana as points are earned, but has also been used as a drinking game for those who choose not to smoke. There are several different versions of Zonk, usually based on the region of play. It has been on the High Times Magazine "pot 40" list as early as 1992.

In one version, called "Detroit style," the game is played using six dice. Another popular version, called "Chicago style," is played with five dice. Each version has its own set of rules, regulations and style of game play; variations arise from the creation of new house rules (a practice which is encouraged).


The goal of the game is to score points and pass certain thresholds for which the player is rewarded with hits (or shots). Each player's cumulative score is kept, and the game is won by the player who lands directly on 10,000 points or rolls through 13,000 points first. In an alternate version, a standard roll through 10,000 point win unless another player who has acumulated more than 5000 points calls an 11,000 point game. At this score the number must be landed on exactly.

How to play

Scoring dice

  • 1's are worth 100 points.
  • 5's are worth 50 points.
  • 3 of a kind is worth face value x 100 (i.e. three 4's = 400 points), except three 1's are worth 1000 points.

(Chicago Style)

  • 1-2-3-4-5 or 2-3-4-5-6 is called a "straight" and is worth 1000 points in limbo.
  • Five of a kind is called a "Yahtzee" and is worth 1500 points (2000 if it is made up of ones) and is an automatic "Bonus" (see below).

Game play

Players take turns rolling the dice, starting with the first player and continuing clockwise or in the chosen direction. On a player's turn, he or she will roll all five or six dice and total the value of the scoring dice (points) rolled. The player may now either (a) stop rolling and keep the points, or (b) set aside all scoring dice and re-roll the other dice to add more points. If at any point the player fails to roll any scoring dice, the player will "Zonk" and be awarded zero points for the turn, indicated by a "Z" on the score sheet. Alternatively, if a player stops rolling and keeps his or her points, they are added to the player's previous total. A "Table Zonk" (aka. Bloads) occurs when a player's first roll results in no scoring dice, again indicated by a "Zonk" on the score sheet. If in the course of a turn, the player reaches a point where all five or six dice are scoring dice, he or she has "filled" and is in "limbo." The player must re-roll all dice again, adding additional scoring dice to the total of the first fill, or "generation." If the player rolls no scoring dice while in limbo, he or she loses all points accumulated during that turn (aka. vanana). There is no limit to the number of times a player can fill on a single turn.

For every 1000 point threshold crossed, the player is awarded 1 hit. "Bonuses" are very special and result in a high-density hit, such as from a water pipe or steamroller.

Scoring bonuses

  • 2100 Space Odyssey (land on 2000 exactly then get 100 in your next turn)
  • Landing on exactly 4200, 5150,6900, 9900 at the end of a turn.
  • Rolling a Yahtzee (Chicago style).
  • First to break 10,000
  • "Social" if all players get a hit in a round then everyone gets an extra
  • "Turkey" extra hit for receiving one or more hits in three consecutive rounds.
  • Winning the game.


There are many ways to "Zonk" and the chances of Zonking obviously increase as the game progresses, so extra attention to detail is a must. When a player earns a Zonk at any point during his turn, the turn ends, a "Z" is recorded on the score sheet for his turn, and he receives no points for that turn, losing any points that may have built up. Cumulative or "banked" points are not affected by Zonks. If a player earns a Zonk during another player's turn, he will lose his next turn.

A player can earn a Zonk in several ways:

  • Rolling no scoring dice on a roll at any point during a turn
  • "Spazzing" by rolling any dice off of the table or designated rolling area, dropping any of the dice while shaking them or rolling irregularly
  • "Architect" by stacking any dice on a roll
  • "Whig" by showing any undue aggression towards the dice or another player (i.e. throwing the dice, slammimg the table)
  • "Space" Player has forgotten his score during the course of a roll.
  • Turning or picking up scoring dice.
  • Rolling out of turn
  • Calling another player by any name other than his or her Zonk nickname
  • Not being at the Zonk table (or too zoned out) when his or her turn comes, resulting in a "delay" (five second rule is appropriate.
  • Getting caught cheating


Contrary to most games, cheating is legal, ethical and even encouraged in Zonk, provided you get away with it. If a player is caught cheating, a "Zonk" should be called on the player, and his or her turn ends with zero points.

Democratic values

The majority rules in any disagreement within the game of Zonk, and a majority vote stands as a 'decision of the court' with precedents becoming new house rules. Useful times to invoke a vote include:

  • When a player is caught cheating and denies it
  • When a player is called for a "name" Zonk for saying a real name and denies it
  • If a situation occurs during a turn that suggests a new rule
  • In deciding to award a "delay" Zonk for a sustained absence
  • To put any sort of disagreement behind to continue the game with as little delay as possible
  • Thumbs up or down used to tally votes.

Common variations

There are many, many variations to Zonk. Multi-colored dice may be used, and known color-variants include 3 sets of 2 colors (i.e. 2 red, 2 green, 2 blue), 2 sets of 3 colors (i.e. 3 red, 3 white), and 4 or 5 of one color and 1 of another. A variation of Chicago style five-dice Zonk was popularized in South Bend, Indiana which emphasized bonuses and high scoring individual rolls. In Eau Claire (Wisconsin) style Zonk, six dice and the cards from the game "Fill or Bust" are used, to add an additional layer. A version thought to originate at the University of Vermont, has spread down the East Coast using similar rules to the Detroit style. Many unique variations of the game have sprung up wherever Zonk is played. Some additional examples of house rules and variations include:

  • "Big Bertha": In five-dice zonk, when two ones and two fives are rolled, it is generally considered extremely bad luck to keep the points and choose not to roll the last non-scoring die, unless keeping a lowly 300 would land directly on a bonus. If four dice are used of one color and one of another, any Big Bertha in which the one non-scoring die is the odd color, it MUST be rolled, regardless of the player's point total.
  • "Holding one die": Zonk is frequently played with an alternate method of rolling the dice. Instead of rolling all of the dice, one die is held back in the roller's hand. After evaluating the roll, the roller will then roll the remaining die into the other dice to increase the score. The score is only tallied after the remaining "striking" die is rolled.
  • "Breaking the ice": Each player must score at least 1000 points to "Enter the Game" and record points. No player may stop short of 1000 points prior to entering the game. Once a player has entered the game, he or she may stop at any point value subsequently thereafter.
  • Rolling a Table Zonk is called a "newbie" and when a "newbie" is rolled a hit is rewarded. Rolling a newbie after a fill (i.e. all previous dice had been scoring dice) is called a Newbie Waster. A Newbie Waster is the most unfortunate roll to occur to a player. Not only does the player lose his or her points for that round, but he or she also does NOT receive the hit that is usually received after rolling a Newbie.
  • If on any given all-dice roll at least three dice are a combination of 4s and 2s, the roller may choose to go for a 420 by rolling the remaining dice one at a time. Any combination of 4's and 2's awards the roller with 1000 points, and the start of a community bowl. However, the rolling is stopped, and the points automatically banked.
  • A "Social" occurs when a player rolls four 4s in a single roll. The youngest player should yell "Social!" before the active players all smoke followed by others present. Socials incorporate other people into the game even if they aren't currently playing. It is customary to write in visiting players who participate in any social.
  • If a player reaches the fifth generation (by filling four times) and chooses to bank the points he is allowed to rename a player after the game. Also, if a player chooses to bank on or after the seventh generation, he gets to make a new house rule.
  • The first player to reach Midway (halftime at 5,000 points) gets to make a rule that is applied for the remainder of the game. Possible Rule additions may include:
    • The Ronnie Rule originated in Marlboro, New Jersey. This rule ultimately doubles scoring points on the table. When a player rolls points and the only remaining die indicates the scoring points rolled, the player picks up all the die and rolls again adding to the doubled points earned. Example: 4 fives (rolled separately)and a two is considered 200 with a 2 so the player receives 400 points and continues the roll after picking all the dice up. Or examples may include 3 fives (at one time) and a one and a 6 is 600 with the 6 and doubles to 1200 points. There has been much dispute over 5 hundred with a 5 rolled as 3 fours (at once) with a one and a five. This has been considered 1000 points OR 650 because they are all scoring die.
    • At Midway, Marloboro Rules also institute a halftime game. It is basically a time-out where points do not get added to game totals. Many different types of games have been played and the winner of Midway gets a bonus hit.
  • Other possible bonuses:
    • 2001: "Space Odyssey"
    • 3300: "Rolling Rock"
    • 5150: "Van Halen"

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