Sic Bo

Sic bo is a casino game that originated in ancient China and is played with three dice. Sic bo goes by a number of other names, such as tai sai, dai siu, big and small or hi-lo. The literal meaning of sic bo is “precious dice” or “dice pair”, while dai siu and dai sai mean “big small”. The game was originally introduced in the United States in the early 20th century as a carnival game. Sic bo has grown in popularity over the years and has recently gained notoriety in one of the largest casino markets in the world, Macau. The game is also played in the Philippines, United States, and the United Kingdom.

Sic bo is one of the few casino games that involve dice; the other popular dice game being craps. Unlike craps, however, sic bo is a game of chance. This makes it nearly impossible to develop any sort of strategy. Every roll of the dice in sic bo will result in a win or a loss on any bet, while craps bets require certain rolls before they become winning or losing bets. 

Despite the inability to gain a clear advantage when playing sic bo, it remains a fairly popular casino game in both casinos across the world and on the internet. Part of its popularity stems from the fact that it is extremely easy to learn. Once you are able to understand the sic bo table and the available bets, then sic bo can be a fun and exciting game.

Playing Sic Bo

Sic bo uses three dice, which are picked up by the dealer in a small chest. The dealer then uses the chest to shake the dice, until he or she is ready to reveal the combination of the three dice. If the dealer rolls the combination you wagered on, then you’re a winner.

Sic bo revolves around a table that lists a variety of dice combinations that players are able to bet on. It is important to keep in mind that the table layout may vary from place to place, but the objective remains the same; players are able to wager on the available dice combinations listed on the table. Each combination has a certain chance of being rolled, and players must use this knowledge to help make educated decisions when placing their wagers.

Available Bets for Sic Bo

As the name suggests sic bo, or hi-lo, offers both high and low bets. Like craps, players can bet on as many combinations as they choose. The two most common bets are small, which means the sum of the dice falls between 4-10, and big, which means the sum of the dice falls between 11-17. The following are available bets when playing sic bo:

Big – The sum of the dice falls between 11 and 17. As mentioned before this is one of the most popular bets when playing sic bo. This particular bet excludes any 3 of a kind; for example three 1s, three 2s, etc. This particular bet has a 48.6% probability and pays 1:1
Small – The sum of the dice falls between 4 and 10. Like the big, this bet also excludes triples and has a 48.6% probability of winning, with a 1:1 payout.
Odd – This sum of the dice will be an odd number. This bet also excludes triples and pays 1:1. The probability of the odd bet winning is 48.6%.
Even – The sum of the dice will be an even number, excluding triples. This bet pays 1:1 with a 48.6% chance of winning.
Specific Triples or Alls – A specific number appears on all three dice. This bet has only a 0.46% chance of winning and pays anywhere from 150:1 to 215:1, depending on the country you are playing in.
Specific Doubles – A specific number appears on at least two of the three dice. This bet has a 7.41% chance of winning and pays between 8:1 and 11:1, depending on the country you are playing in.
Any Triple – This bet wins if the three dice land on the same number. This bet has a 2.8% chance of winning and usually pays 30:1.
Three Dice Total – This bet is actually a number of different bets that are based on the sum of the dice. The table usually lists these bets as a range of numbers, for example 4 or 17. When placing this bet you are expecting the dice to equal a sum that falls between that range. The odds and payout for this bet vary based on the range you are betting on, and different tables offer different ranges.
Dice Combinations – This bet wins if two of the dice show a specific combination of two numbers, such as a 2 and a 5. This bet has a 13.9% probability of winning and pays 6:1.
Single Dice Bet – A single dice bet is placed on a specific number from 1-6 to appear on one, two, or all three dice. Betting on a number to appear once has a 34.72% probability of winning, twice a 6.94% probability, and three times a 0.46% probability. These bets pay 1:1, 2:2, and 3:3 respectively.
Four Number Combination – This bet allows players to wager on any of the following four number combinations: 6, 5, 4, 3; 6, 5, 3, 2; 5, 4, 3, 2; or 4, 3, 2, 1. To win three of the four numbers must appear on the three dice. The probability of this bet winning are 11.1% and this bet pays 7:1.
Three Single Number Combination – The dice will show a combination of three different numbers. This wager has a 2.8% chance of winning and pays 30:1
Specific Double and Single Number Combination – this is also a combination of three numbers, but instead of three different numbers it includes two of a kind and a different third number, for example 1-1-3. This bet has 1.4% probability of winning and has a pay out of 50:1 or 60:1, depending on where you are playing.

As always, it is important to make sure you understand the betting options available at the casino you are playing at. The house edge can vary from casino to casino and, as discussed previously, so can the payout for each bet. The house edge is the percentage of your winnings the casino garnishes as profit. Generally speaking the higher probability bets have a lower house edge and the lower probability bets have a higher house edge.

Sic Bo Variants

It is rare to see different variations of sic bo, that being said some do exist. Grand hazard is a game played with three dice and is of English origin. In this variation three dice are thrown with a cup or rolled down a chute that has a number of inclined planes that cause the dice to tumble, unpredictably, as they fall. In this variation, the objective is to get three-of-a-kind, known as “raffles,” which pays 18:1.

Another variation of sic bo goes by a few different names, such as chuck-a-luck, sweat cloth, churckerluck or birdcage. This variation is popular in the United States and derives from grand hazard. Three dice are kept in a wire cage, similar to a birdcage, that pivots at its center and the dealer rotates the cage end over end, with the dice landing at the bottom. This variant typically only offers single-number wagers, with the occasional triple wager, with 30:1 odds. This variant was previously common in Las Vegas, but is rarely seen in present day casinos.

Sic Bo Strategy

Although sic bo is a game of chance, players can make an educated guess based on the probability of each available bet, thus giving them somewhat of an advantage. Betting on the small, big, even, or odd bets gives you the highest probability of winning and therefore are the safest bets when playing sic bo. Another important thing to keep in mind is the odds offered as well as the house edge. The payout for each bet can vary from casino to casino and so will the house edge. In order to win the most you want the casino with the best odds and the lowest house edge.

Sic Bo Summary

At a glance, sic bo may seem a little bit intimidating given the variety of bets. A quick glance at the sic bo table can be a bit intimidating, when in reality the rules of the game are easy to learn. Many people will draw comparisons between other dice games, like craps. When you get down to it, the game is very simple. Players simply need to select the numbers they think are going to appear on the three dice.

Due to the fact that sic bo is a game of chance, there is no real opportunity for players to develop a significant strategy. For that reason sic bo is an easy game to learn, but a difficult game to make money on. If you’re looking for a game to play for fun, then sic bo is a quick and easy learn. If you are looking for a competitive strategic casino game, perhaps you will want to look into other casino games.