Introduction: How to Roll Dice Like an MIT Nerd

Picture of How to Roll Dice Like an MIT Nerd

Lost your d6? Flip three visually distinct coins, and use binary.

This Instructable is another cool way to substitute for a standard 6-sided die, and reminded me of the extremely geeky method we use. A great teaching tool for kids, too.

Step 1: Acquire Coins

Picture of Acquire Coins

It happens all the time: you open your favorite board game, and the die is gone. What to do?

Coins are readily available.
Just find three visually distinct coins: I've got a dime, nickel, and penny here, but you could mark up three of the same coins with a Sharpie to distinguish them if necessary.

Step 2: Understand Binary

Picture of Understand Binary

This is pretty easy.

Designate one coin for each of the following:

20 = 1 (assigned to the penny)

21 = 2 (assigned to the nickel)

22 = 4 (assigned to the dime)

Heads = yes, tails = no.

Flip (or shake and dump) your coins and add the values to figure out the value of your roll.

Step 3: Scoring Examples

Picture of Scoring Examples

Remember: dime: 22=4, nickel: 21=2, penny: 20=1

H H H = 4 + 2 + 1 = 7 (discarded- reroll)
H H T = 4 + 2 + 0 = 6
H T H = 4 + 0 + 1 = 5
H T T = 4 + 0 + 0 = 4
T H H = 0 + 2 + 1 = 3
T H T = 0 + 2 + 0 = 2
T T H = 0 + 0 + 1 = 1
T T T = 0 + 0 + 0 = 0 (discarded- reroll)

(For a d8 the TTT=0 is considered an 8, and none are discarded.)

Check out the examples below, then go roll dice like an MIT nerd.


BigCthulhu (author)2017-01-01


And you can replace the other dice like D8, D12 up to D100 with some more coins. I'll improve this method with coloured plastic coins with 0-s and 1-s on their sides. Colours for the order, 0-s or 1-s for the binary value.

Congrats and Fhtang:-)!

GASSYPOOTS (author)2012-01-08


pwnag3 (author)2011-12-25

woohoo, binary dice made from coins

BuffaloNickel (author)2007-11-02

*cough* (i knew how to do binary in 5th grade)*cough*

I'm NOT a geek!

nice comment lol!

I knew binary in 4th grade!!! What Now!!!!!!

Erm... Not to brag.... I KNEW BINARY IN SECOND GRADE!!!!1!!eleven!!!111!!11!

not bragging...but i wrote a web page in 3rd grade. with html not

Ooh, big deal. I was programming in BASIC in the fourth grade. Real programming, not that spaghetti code bull most beginners write.

Ismith17 (author)dungeon runner2011-07-21

i was creating websites before i was born.

chrisre cat (author)Ismith172011-07-21

oh my god its the 42 virgins

I new binary in Sixth grade!

jwoo2023 (author)2011-05-25

thank you! your instructables has helped me in my life!

ich bin ein pyro (author)2007-06-01

whats with all the dice instructables lately?

canida (author)ich bin ein pyro2007-06-01

You mean both of them? :)
I saw the other one yesterday morning, and was reminded of this trick. I don't think there's a secret Illuminati dice plot.

zachninme (author)canida2007-06-01

SHH!! *mumble*(they_know_too_much)*mumble* *cough* *sneeze* *OUCH* :P

Wafflicious (author)zachninme2009-11-24

The goose has left the nest.
Repeat - The goose has left the nest.

Archive555 (author)Wafflicious2010-05-14

Reminds me of an xkcd comic where a biologist says into a voice recorder:
"The eagle has left the nest."
*khhhkht* "Roger that, eagle has left the nest, alert the agents." *khhhkht*
"Will you stop that?"

lunius (author)Archive5552011-01-09

xkcd ftw!! I love the schrodinger one!

qualia (author)zachninme2008-06-05

they ALL know too much, we should run while we still can, no?

fwjs28 (author)qualia2009-03-13


valenluis (author)fwjs282009-04-28


fwjs28 (author)valenluis2009-04-29

LLAMA....EPIC WIN!!!111111111

Iridium7 (author)fwjs282009-05-27


fwjs28 (author)Iridium72009-05-27


jamiec53 (author)fwjs282010-02-11


JohnJY (author)jamiec532010-06-20

I win!

radiobath (author)2010-03-07

Aaahh, but how would you get a d20?! That would come in very handy when I don't have my d20 on me and someone says "roll for damage" when I burn someone.

Archive555 (author)radiobath2010-05-14

Just use more coins...

20 in binary is:
So just use 5 dice then.

You could simulate a d100 if you really wanted with 7 dice.
64 32  16   8    4    2    1
 1    1    0    0    1    0    0

PastTheVoid (author)2009-07-24

This is great and all (I'm goin' camping this weekend and I forgot my dice), but is it really accurate?

bythenumbers (author)PastTheVoid2009-11-15

it is perfectly accurate, provided the two non-die rolls are discounted. the zero/8 and 7 combintions would throw off any die probabilities, but other than that, the remaining six possible combinations all correspond to a single die face, so the probabilities work out the same as rolling a die.

will421 (author)2009-06-29

EPIC WIN Dice roll score=INFINTY (OR 99999999999999)!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111

hornbadoing (author)2008-07-18


Argool (author)hornbadoing2009-01-02


fwjs28 (author)Argool2009-03-13

hes a lama...gosh, get it right!

j626no (author)2009-02-25

You could be even more of a nerd by using 3 pennies and making one silver and one gold through chemistry. :p

Slangan1117 (author)2009-01-19

0110100100100000011011000110111101110110011001010010000001100010011010010110111001100001011100100111100100100001 nice instructable

lupinesoul (author)2008-08-03

I love it! My friend's always forgetting the die for D&D; games.

Markusaurelius (author)2007-06-20

Good Idea. Another way that you could do with any coins (same or not) is to simply assign heads as 1 and tails as 0 and just read the coins left to right. So a H-T-H would be 101 witch is 5.

It could also be 6 or 3 as well, depending on where you dumped the zero. One would have to drop the coins one at a time to do it with the same coin. Or it could be done three times with the same coin for that matter.

furun (author)2007-06-11

This is 100% dorktastic!. I love it.

place name here- (author)2007-06-05

cool completely geektastic :)

lemonie (author)2007-06-01

I score 6. Had to use a 10 (Euro) cent French coin though... L

rimar2000 (author)2007-06-01


LasVegas (author)2007-06-01

Darn! I keep getting SIXTEEN! lol Great instructable canida!

tiuk (author)2007-06-01

Haha, clever. I'll have to remember this the next time I'm playing a board game with a bunch of my CS major friends. Thanks.

About This Instructable




Bio: I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodesk. Follow me for food and more!
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