Guide to Sic Bo
The game of Sic Bo (pronounced "See-Bo") is a popular choice in Asian casinos. Its name roughly translates as “precious dice” or “jewel dice,” and also encompasses other variants such as tai sai (“big and small”) and dai siu (“hi-lo”), with the latter extremely popular in the Chinese betting haven of Macau. If it sounds familiar, you may have played the European variant, known as Grand Hazard.
Ordinarily played with 3 dice, Sic Bo is an ancient game of chance originating from Asia, though English variants (Chuck-a-luck and Grand Hazard) also exist. The literal meaning of Sic Bo is “precious dice”, but, emphasising some of the main betting options, it is also called dai sui – “big and small”.
The betting table has a wide variety of options that relate to the numbers rolled on the dice. When not in use, the dice are often stored in a cage at the side of the table. The past results should also be clearly on show, so you can see the recent history of the game.
To play Sic Bo, all you need to know is the type of betting options that are available.
Big or Small bets
The most basic bet, close to a 50/50 chance, is between the Big and Small numbers. These bets split your chances between a total roll of 11 to 17 (Big) or 4 to 10 (Small). This pays out at 2/1, but the house earns its edge by winning if the roll produces a triple, i.e. three of the same number.
When you bet on a single number, the payout varies depending on how successful your roll is. You receive a 2/1 payout if any of the dice show that number, 3/1 if your number is shown on two dice, and 12/1 if you manage to get it right on all three.
If you bet that two of the dice will show the same number using a double bet, top casinos offer a 10/1 payout. You have to choose a specific number, though, as there is no option to bet on a random double.
Betting on a correct triple is the most profitable option, with odds on offer up to 180-1 depending on where you play. You also have the option to bet on any triple (ie, any 3 numbers that are the same but not of your choosing), for a smaller 30-1 pay out. The specific triple payout is the highest on the table, but also the most unlikely result - it has less than a 0.5% chance of success.
Finally, in the middle of the table you can bet on a variety of different total numbers. The payouts vary depending on how likely the specific numbers are - from 62/1 (for 4 or 17) to 6/1 (for 10 and 11).
- The player should avoid interacting with the dice and the chest in which they are held at all times.
- Players are advised not to touch bets placed or the table after the dice have been shaken.
- Equally, bets should not be placed halfway through rolling the dice. Games happen relatively quickly, so just wait for the next round of bets.
- Check out the odds, which will be displayed on the table, before placing a bet. Not only can some tables differ slightly on the payout, but also the types of bets that can be placed are different. For example, some Western tables offer the option of betting on the total of the dice being odd or even, whereas most tables in Asia do not.
- Sic Bo tables can be very busy, especially in Asia. Keep an eye on where you want to bet, and get it down as soon as the players are allowed; this is normally after the lights revealing the winners of the last game have been turned off. The most popular betting areas can get quite congested with many players.
- Be careful where you place your chips. Any chips that overlap two sections can and will be contested, usually to the detriment of your bet.
Because the player is at no point in control of the direction of the game, Sic Bo is purely about chance. However, that's not to say that strategic bets aren’t possible. The most common strategy is to place the majority of bets on big or small. These give the best odds on the table, with the probability of winning standing at 48.61%. As such, one may find other players only ever betting on big or small.
A player may be tempted to bet on numbers that have frequently appeared in previous games. Unless this is your lucky number, such a practice should be avoided. Remember: the odds of a number appearing is in no way influenced by earlier results. Equally, do not be tempted to follow another player, thinking they know something you don’t; sticking to your guns and keeping a cool head is usually the best approach for Sic Bo.
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