Shut the Box Rules

Shut the Box is a classic game that originated hundreds of years ago with sailors and fisherman in Normandy. While Shut the Box has traditionally been a pub game used for gambling, it’s now a family game that is enjoyed by people of all ages. Adults will enjoy the game of chance and strategy, while children can learn basic math as they have fun playing the game.

 1 wood gameboard
2 dice

 The object of the game is to have the lowest score.

Set Up:
At the start of the game all the tiles are open, showing the numbers 1 to 12.

Game Play:
Shut the Box can be played with any number of players, but most enjoyable with two to four.  During the game, each player takes a turn to roll the dice as many times as they can and tries to shut as many numbers as possible. The player takes a turn by rolling the dice into the box. If the sum of the remaining tile(s) is 6 or lower, the player may roll only one die. Otherwise, the player must roll both dice.   After rolling, the player shuts one of any combination of open numbers that equals the total number of the dice roll. For example, if the player rolls an 8, the player may shut either 8; 1 and 7; 2 and 6; 3 and 5; 1, 2, and 5; or 1, 3, and 4, as long as the numbers are available. (An alternative version is to only shut the total of the dice roll, or either/both numbers showing on the dice – for example if a player rolls 2 and 6, the player may shut either 2 and/or 6, or 8).

The player then rolls the dice again, aiming to shut more numbers. The player continues throwing the dice and shutting numbers until reaching a point at which, given the results produced by the dice, the player cannot shut any more numbers. At that point, the player scores the sum of the numbers that are still uncovered. For example, if the numbers 2, 4, and 6 are still open when the player throws a one, the player’s score is 12 (2 + 4 + 6 = 12). Play then passes to the next player.  After every player has taken a turn, the player with the lowest score wins. If a player succeeds in closing all of the numbers, the player is said to have “Shut the Box” – the player wins immediately, and the game is over.


There are many variations and house rules for Shut the Box.  One variation is to play with multiple rounds with players adding points to their previous scores.  Players can continue to a set number of rounds or be eliminated from the game once they reach a set score (such as 50) with the last player being declared the winner.

How to Play Shut the Box Video