Casino Game Guide: Sic Bo
One casino game that doesn’t get much attention is sic bo.
Sic bo is an old Chinese game. It has several meanings, including dice pair, previous dice, or jewel dice.
It was introduced in the US in the early 20th century as a carnival game. Today, it’s most popular in Asian card rooms, though you can find it in Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos.
Anyhow, the focus of this guide isn’t so much about where you can play sic bo as much as it is about how to play sic bo, any variations and strategies that may exist, and what you need to know about playing it online.
Let’s get started with how to play it.
How to Play Sic Bo
Sic bo is simple. There are many similarities to craps, due to it being a dice game and having some similar wagers. If you’re familiar with craps, sic bo will be a walk in the park.
FUN FACTWhile both are dice games, sic bo is purely a game of chance, whereas there’s some strategy in craps.
The general idea is this: place a bet on the sic bo board. Then the dealer will pick up a small chest with three dice and shake them. Then he will open the chest to reveal the combination. If the combination matches your wager(s), you win. Otherwise, you lose.
The only difference online is that this is all handled by software. But that’s all there is to it. The only thing to familiarize yourself with is all the different bets you can make.
Here’s a list of the bets you can make, along with their payouts and house edges:
- Big – The total score falls between 11 to 17. Triples are excluded. This has a 48.6% probability and pays 1:1 odds. The house edge is 2.78%.
- Small – The total score falls between 4-10 except for triples. The probability of winning is 48.61%. This pays 1:1 and the house edge is 2.78%.
- Total of 4 and 17 – This pays 50:1 in Macau, 60:1 in Atlantic City, and 62:1 in Australia. The house edge varies from 8.33% to 29.17%.
- Total of 5 and 16 – This pays anywhere from 18:1 to 32:1. The probability of winning is 2.78% and the house edge varies from 8.33% to 47.22%.
- Total of 6 and 15 – This pays anywhere from 14:1 to 19:1. The probability of winning is 4.63% and the house edge is between 7.41% and 30.56%.
- Total of 7 and 14 – This pays 10:1 to 12:1. The house edge is between 9.72% and 23.61%.
- Total of 8 and 13 – This pays between 7:1 and 8:1. The house edge is between 12.50% to 22.22%.
- Total of 9 and 12 – This pays between 6:1 and 7:1. The house edge is between 7.41% and 18.98%.
- Total of 10 and 11 – This pays 6:1. The house edge is 12.50%.
- Double – Bet on any pair. For example, two 4s or two 1s. You win if at least two of the number appears (out of three dice). This pays anywhere from 8:1 to 11:1. The house edge ranges from 11.11% to 33.33%.
- Triple – Bet on any three of a kind. For example, three 4s or three 1s. You win when all three dice match your chosen number. This pays anywhere from 150:1 to 190:1 and the house odds range from 11.57% to 30.09%.
- Any Triple – Win on any three of a kind. This pays between 24:1 and 32:1 and the house edge ranges from 8.33% to 30.56%.
- Any One Number – Bet on a specific number from 1 to 6. If the chosen number appears one time, the bet pays 1:1. It pays 2:1 if it appears twice and 3:1 if it appears three times.
- Odd – Win on any odd total. It loses on three of a kind. The probability of winning is 48.61%, and the house edge is 2.78%. Chances are you won’t see this bet online OR in the United States.
- Even – This wins on any even total except for a three of a kind. Like the odd bet, you probably won’t see this online or in the United States. The probability of winning is 48.61%, and the house edge is 2.78%.
- Domino – You choose a two-number combo using two unique numbers. For example, 2-5. This pays 5:1 if the roll contains both numbers. The probability of winning is 13.89%, and the house edge is 16.67%.
- The following bets don’t have a name, per se. Wikipedia calls them one-, two-, three-, or four-number combinations. But for this guide, we’ll use the names the Wizard of Odds gives them. And according to him, the last three bets – as far as he knows – are only offered in Macau.
- XYZ – You choose a three-number combination. For example, 1-2-4. The bet pays 30:1 if all three numbers are rolled. The probability of winning is 2.78%, and the house edge is 13.89%.
- XXY – You choose a three-number combination using two unique numbers. Then you specify which will be rolled twice. For example, 3-3-5. This bet pays 50:1 if the roll matches exactly. The probability of winning is 1.39%, and the house edge is a whopping 29.17%.
- WXYZ – Choose a four-number (unique) combination. For example, 2-3-4-5. This bet pays 7:1 if the roll matches three of your four numbers. The probability of winning is 11.11% and the house edge is 11.11%.
That’s all there is to sic bo.
Are There Any Variations?
- Grand Hazard – This game is also played with three dice. The dice are thrown with a cup or rolled down a chute containing a series of planes that tumble the dice as they fall.
- Chuck-a-luck – Known as sweat cloth, chuckerluck, or bird cage. This is a US variation whose origins come from Grand Hazard.The three dice are kept in a device that looks like a wire-frame bird cage – which is what the tumbler looks like on Sloto’Cash’s sic bo game. This usually features only single-number wagers with an additional wager for any triple. This game used to be common in Nevada, but is rare now since it’s been replaced by sic bo tables.
- Hoo Hee How – This is similar to Yee Hah Hi. Both games are similar to sic bo. This uses symbols on the dice instead of numbers. The Wizard of Odds says you can find this variation at online casinos using Amigotechs software (of which any casino using them are on the Wizard of Odds’ blacklist).Each die has the following symbols: a fish, scorpion, gourd, coin, crab, and rooster. There are six available bets, one for each symbol. Each bet pays 1:1 to 3:1 depending on how often a symbol appears. This has a house edge of 7.87%.
- Yee Hah Hi – This is similar to sic bo. This uses pictures instead of numbers. It means Fish Shrimp Crab. Here are the bets you can make:
You can make the following bets:
- All the same color. This wins if all three dice are the same color. It pays 7:1.
- Exactly two of a specific color. This wins if exactly two dice are a color chosen by you. This pays 3:1.
- Exactly one specific color. This wins if the one die is a color chosen by you. This pays 1:1.
Sic Bo Strategy
There’s not too much you can do to improve your chances because sic bo is purely a game of chance.
We do have a couple suggestions, though. You can use the following tips to at least minimize your losses:
- Play the even, odd, small, or big bets. These are as close as to even odds (a coin flip) as you’re going to get. These bets have the smallest house edge.
- Find the casinos with the larger payouts. This will reduce the house edge, too.
That’s about it.
Some experts suggest using betting strategies, especially on these near-even money bets. We’ll share a couple of those betting strategies below. Just know that they won’t improve your chances of winning since they don’t actually change the game. They’re for fun only.
- d’Alembert – Whenever you lose, increase your wager by one unit. When you win, your wager’s reduced by one unit. The progression ends when you get to zero.
- 1-3-2-6 – A positive progression system. You increase your bets whenever you win. Your first wager will be one unit. When you win, the next bet will be three units. Then two units. Then six. Any losses will reset the progression to one unit.
Playing Sic Bo Online
Sic bo is one of the least popular casino games online. We base on that on how few casinos actually offer the game. Or how few of them mention on their site that they offer it.
There are live dealer sic bo games. It’s not nearly as popular as blackjack or roulette. You’ll find it mostly at casinos who cater to Asian players. A couple examples include Bodog88, Bet365, and HoGaming.
For Americans, one of the few options you’ll have is Sloto’Cash.
Aside from that, you should also know that many, if not most, online casinos will not let you play sic bo to clear their deposit bonuses. This goes for both Sloto’Cash and Planet 7 Casino.
However, you can play sic bo and get cash back. But the casino will raise your playthrough (wager) requirement. For example, at Planet 7, slots players will need to wager their cash back 30x before requesting a cash-out.
All other games – mostly table and video poker games – will need to wager their cash back at 60x before they can ask for a cash-out.
It’s a small point, but important to keep in mind, as it can prevent you from collecting your winnings. If you have any questions about this or don’t want to participate in these sorts of promotions, we recommend you contact support.
As for mobile sic bo, options are hit and miss. You might find it at a larger casino, like Bet365, but you’ll struggle to find it at a US-facing casino. Especially ones running on RealTime Gaming (RTG), Betsoft, or Rival Gaming software.
There are sic bo apps. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to gamble for real money on these apps.
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