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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.

It’s available online too, though you’ll find not every online casino offers it. For example, we couldn’t find it at Bovada, Ignition Casino or Bodog.

But we did find it at Sloto’Cash. You can read our review here.

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, between it being a dice game and some of the wagers you can make. If you’re familiar with craps, sic bo will be a walk in the park.

Fun Fact:

While 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 3 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 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 4’s or two 1’s. You win if at least 2 of the number appears (out of 3 dice). This pays anywhere from 8:1 to 11:1. The house edge ranges from 11.11% to 33.33%.
  • Triple – Bet on any 3 of a kind. For example, three 4’s or three 1’s. You win when all 3 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 1 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 3 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 3 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 3 bets – as far as he knows – are only offered in Macau.
  • XYZ – You choose a 3-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 3-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 3 of your 4 numbers. The probability of winning is 11.11% and the house edge is 11.11%.

That’s all there is to sic bo.

And, like craps and roulette, you can bet on as many combinations as you want.

Are There Any Variations?

We didn’t find any variations such as rule differences or side bets. But we did find games similar to sic bo.

Grand Hazard – This game is also played with 3 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 3 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, goard, coin, crab and rooster. There are 6 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:

Symbol Color
Fish Red
Scorpion Green
Goard Blue
Coin Blue
Crab Green
Rooster Red

You can make the following bets:

  • All the same color. This wins if all 3 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.

The house edge is 11.11% for everything.

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 3 units. Then 2 units. Then 6. Any losses will reset the progression to 1 unit. We have a full-blown explanation here.

Again, we want to remind you that these betting systems won’t impact your wins or losses in the long run since they don’t change the odds or outcome of the game. No betting system will.

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 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 play through (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 Real Time Gaming (RTG), Betsoft or Rival Gaming software.

There are sic bo apps. Here’s , App Annie. Just keep in mind you won’t be able to gamble for real money on these apps.

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it.

Sic bo is a real simple game. It’s like craps or roulette. Just choose a number or outcome and let it rip.

Surprisingly, this is one of the harder games to find online. Especially for Americans. And that seems to be the case offline, too.

Between that and the fact that you won’t be able to earn many promotions playing sic bo, it’s possible only hardcore enthusiasts or the insanely curious will want to play.

But if you can get past those points, and you like games of chance, then sic bo is a real easy one to learn.

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