Sic Bo Frequently Asked Questions
What is Sic Bo?
Sic Bo is an ancient Chinese dice game which sees players gambling on the outcome of the roll of three dice. The direct translation of Sic Bo is precious dice and also, confusingly, dice pair. This popular Chinese game of luck arrived in the western world in the early 1900s. Before this, it was widely played across Asia under different names.
Generally, the game is played on a large table which has all the betting options available printed on it under plastic. Lights shine up through the plastic betting field to indicate bet options. Players place their chips on the table in the area that corresponds to the outcome type they wish to wager on. Once all bets are placed the dealer shakes a small chest, cup, or glass container, which contains the three dice. If they’re using a chest, they will then place it down and open it to reveal the winning combination of numbers.
Although the game looks quite daunting because of the huge number of bet options, in essence, it’s quite simple. Sic Bo is similar to craps, but by no means can you just go from one to the other without having a basic understanding of how to play Sic Bo. If you do like roulette and craps, then this could well be your game as Sic Bo mixes the dice play with the random luck that occurs on the roulette wheel.
As with most casino games, there can be slight differences in the odds and game formats depending upon where you’re playing from. Most Las Vegas casinos will be similar, however from country to country and especially online, you’ll find big differences in the game, including some varieties which offer far worse odds and fewer betting options.
How is it played?
Despite the complexity of the betting layout and Sic Bo table, the game is quite simple to play. In most casinos you’ll find one to two Sic Bo games running and it will be available in basically every online casino. So you shouldn’t be too limited in your choices if you wish to give it a shot.
First, you need to make a bet selection on the board. The first main option is the total bet, which is wagering on the total value of the three dice added together. This has varying payouts as some numbers can be achieved in multiple ways with the dice, and others are rarer. You can bet from 4 to 17, as 3 and 18 are triple bets which have another section completely, more on that below. The payout odds vary from place to place, for bets made in Australia they are:
|Payout Odds in Australia|
4 and 17
|62 to 1|
5 and 16
31 to 1
|6 and 15|
18 to 1
7 and 14
12 to 1
|8 and 13|
8 to 1
9 and 12
7 to 1
|10 and 11|
6 to 1
You can also bet on either small or big. Small is a bet that the total will be 4 – 10, except where it’s a three of a kind. A big is a bet on 11 – 17, also unless it’s a three of a kind. The probability of winning is 48.6% and you will be paid out at 1 to 1 for these bets.
Some casinos will offer an odds or evens bet as well, which has the same payout rate of 1 to 1 and the same probability of winning at 48/6%.
You can also bet on a three of a kind separately or collectively. Individually, these will payout at around 180 to 1 and any three of a kind will pay out at 30 to 1, if you make that bet.
After this, you can also bet on a variety of other outcomes with increasing payout rates and house edges, for that matter. Other bet options include:
- Double bets or duo bets – which are on two of the same number appearing. These pay out at 8 to 1.
- Combination bet – on any two numbers appearing on the dice. This pays out at 6 to 1, irrespective of which combination you wager on.
- Single bets – which are on a specific number showing up on any of the dice. You will be paid 1 to 1 if it shows up once, 2 to 1 if it comes up twice and 12 to 1 if it comes up three times.
Depending on where you play there may be some other strange bet combinations, however, the above-listed bets will mostly be available at any Sic Bo table that you play at.
You’ll also be able to find side bet options in Sic Bo games. These are generally low bets that may result in a large payoff proportionally; however, they do carry a high house edge. So if you stumble across any side bets you should have a good think about it before parting with any of your hard earned cash.
Once all bets have been placed the dealer shakes the small wooden chest that contains the three dice. They then place this chest down on the table and open it to reveal the winning combination. Based on your bet in relation to what is rolled on the dice you’ll either be a winner or a loser.
So there you go, the game is quite simple to play and there are a few good bet options that yield modest returns while keeping the house edge as low as possible. These are the bets you should start out with at a Sic Bo table if the odds and having a good chance of having a winning session are important to you.
Are there any good strategies?
Although you’ll be able to find a plethora of Sic Bo strategies online and in books, most of them are focussed on bet combinations and will carry varying rates or risk. We could run through some of them here to give you a bit more information; however, referring to them as strategies would really be a misnomer.
You can’t implement any true strategy in Sic Bo to change the odds or improve your chances of winning. Each betting option simply has an associated probability and a specific house edge. You can certainly just bet on the small or big bet to increase your chances of having a winning session as each of these bets carry a 48.6% probability of winning. So if you keep your timeline short enough and walk away when you are up, you could be a winner. However, this isn’t really a strategy; it’s just playing the odds and being smart about it.
Every roll is independent of each roll before it and it’s completely random. Decision making after you make a bet is non-existent, so there isn’t any strategy to speak of. Just different outcomes with varying levels of probability and slightly fewer payouts as compared to the chance of their occurrence, as we already mentioned. As such, when you play Sic Bo just bet however you like as at the end of the roll it’s all down to luck.
What are the odds and house edge?
A house edge is how much of an advantage the house, or casino, has over the player in a particular game. All casino games are designed to have a house edge so that they can make money off players in the long run. People will still win from time to time, but on a long enough timeline the theoretical house edge always matches the practical house edge. If it doesn’t, then there is certainly some cheating going on, and trust us when we say the casinos will shut it down immediately.
The percentage value that the house edge is represented in purely gives an indication of how many dollars out of $100 that the casino will absorb from the player over time.
Some of the odds have been outlined in the how to play question listed above. In regards to the house edge, this varies depending on the type of bet that you make. On the best bet a player can make odds wise, which is the small or big bet, the house edge is 2.78%. The edge on certain number bets is determined according to the payout odds. For the odds listed above the house edges are as follows:
|House Edge of Sic Bo|
4 and 17
5 and 16
6 and 15
7 and 14
8 and 13
9 and 12
|10 and 11|
After these the edge on the combination bets are 16.67%, the three of a kind bet is 16.2% for a specific hit, and 13.9% for any hit, the double bet is 11.1% and the single bet is 3.7%.
How does Sic Bo compare with other casino games?
The best bet you can make in Sic Bo which has the lowest house edge is the big or small bet, or the odds and evens bet if that is available where you’re playing. You will be giving the house a 2.78% advantage on this bet. This is ok, without being great, when compared to other popular casino table games.
Blackjack with awesome rules is 0.29%, while roulette is 2.7% on a single zero table, and baccarat is 1.06% on the banker. Craps on the don’t pass and don’t come bet is 1.36%. So in comparison to roulette, Sic Bo isn’t too bad and considering that it’s a mix of roulette and craps and purely a luck based game, the best house edge of 2.78% is quite good. In some casinos, particularly at those in Macau, you’ll find games with a much higher house edge. So be wise on where you choose to play.
As with most casino games, the best odds will be available in online casinos. This is because they can run many games with many players all at once without the need to pay dealers or have space to place the tables in, like in a real like casino. So if you are searching for the best possible odds when it comes to Sic Bo, and most other games, then do some searching online.
Can I play online?
Sic Bo is readily available online at most, if not all, online casinos. You’ll be able to find game variants as well as traditional Sic Bo. Most online casinos will offer better odds than live casinos which further drive down the house edge and makes the game more favourable to the player.
On top of this, you’ll also be able to find live dealer Sic Bo at a number of reputable online casinos. In this version of the game, you are connected via a video link to a casino floor where an actual dealer rolls the dice and controls the game as if you were actually in a casino playing. This is a great third option to bridge the gap between online and live play, and it will allow you to play genuine Sic Bo from your computer, tablet, or smartphone no matter where you are.
Another great feature of playing online is the smaller stakes. This is ideal for new players to the game who wish to learn the mechanics before wagering more. You’ll quite often find Sic Bo games with minimum bets as small as 10 cents. You would be lucky to find a casino game with a bet minimum of $10, so you can see why online play is so appealing in this respect.
You’ll also find a huge number of game variants online. Particularly Grand Hazard and Chuck a Luck. The former has more bet options than standard Sic Bo and the latter uses a shaker to roll the dice and offers players a reduced number of bets on a simpler table layout. These two games are also available in some live casinos.
Should I play Sic Bo?
Ultimately, this is up to you. The above frequently asked questions should give you a decent enough analysis of the game to determine if you’d like it or not. It needs to be about entertainment when it comes to Sic Bo as you can see that no one can win in the long run due to the insurmountable house edge. This is the same for all casino games, though, bar a few video poker variants, so you always go into it for fun and not to make money. However, the house edge is low enough so that you can have winning sessions if you get lucky and choose the right time to stop playing.
If you’re seeking a game that is similar to craps and roulette, and you want a bit of a change then Sic Bo could be the answer. For beginners, the best place to start is a low limit online table and then you could work your way up to live dealer games and also live casino games. It all depends on what you prefer. The game is simple enough to just jump right in and play higher limits at a live casino, though if you’d prefer to do that.
Unfortunately, for those who study the math and odds when determining whether to play a game, then Sic Bo probably isn’t for you. The house edge is very high compared to some other games and there’s no strategy whatsoever to implement that will change this. For those of you who love a cheap thrill and an exciting and random luck based game then Sic Bo is a great choice.