Today, when we think of casino games, the poster boys are probably poker or blackjack. When you leave out card games, it is something like roulette or just slot games. But the roots of gambling actually began with dice. Cards only came around the 9th century in China, and even later in other countries. In comparison, dice have been around for much longer. In fact, they come from a time before recorded history. If you are a gambler in the current century, the one dice game you will instantly remember is probably craps.
But outside of Asia, we tend to sometimes forget its distant cousin: Sic-bo. It is actually quite popular in China, Macau, and the Philippines. Maybe that extent of popularity is not to be found outside these places, but chances are that the casino you frequent does have Sic-bo. If nothing else, it is a worthwhile history lesson for a regular gambler to revisit one of the most ancient gambling games from China.
So then, what are the rules?
It will be easier to strategize when you know the rules of Sic-bo beforehand. As we mentioned, Sic-bo is a game from pre-medieval China. So it is quite simple and easy to set up – all you need are three dice. Anyhow, casinos have a much more fancy, polished version of Sic-bo these days that makes it easy for you to just jump in any time and play a couple of quick rounds. If you are an old-school gambler, you will probably know birdcage or chuck-a-luck. That is basically an English adaptation of Sic-bo. In a game of Sic-bo, the dealer rolls the three dice in a small chest and the player bets on the outcome. More specifically, you bet on the total score. There are many ways you can bet in Sic-bo. The most popular form is ‘big’ or ‘small’.
The Filipino variant of the game, hi-lo, actually refers to the big/small bet. Simply put, the big bet is betting on a score in the 11-17 range, while 4-10 is the small bet. Note that triples, i.e. three dice of the same number, will cancel out your bet. You can also specifically bet on triples. Other than that, you can bet in many other forms – more specific ranges, evens or odds, specific doubles, or more specific number combos. The payouts for them are different, and you can find them on the Sic-bo table itself.
How To Make A Profit Off Sic-Bo?
Sic-bo is a game of probability. You have to note that this is a typical casino game, and there is no chance to break even. That being said, there are ways where you can get close to a break-even proposition.
What Is The Best Sic-Bo Bet?
If you have gone through the rules, you will have realized that there is nothing other than placing the right bets. In a craps game, you can throw the dice. That means you can do more advanced strats like dice control. But in the case of Sic-bo or chuck-a-luck, it is pretty much about placing a bet. One should think this is somewhat similar to simulation sports. So you can approach it in a similar fashion. Only it is simpler because all the math is already out there for you to see. So here is how you evaluate the bets: the first factor is their odds, and the second, and arguably more important factor, is the general probability.
Let’s say you are a beginner bettor. As you are not familiar with Sic-bo, you should work with a small betting budget, and only do the safer bets. In this context, these are the ‘small’/’big’ bets. Right off the bat, your chances of winning in either case are 48..61%. In other words, the big bets are not different from the small ones. Some guides will highlight the fact that the higher numbers affect the weight of the dice more, but that is either completely incorrect, or at best a negligible nuance. The UK variant of the game provides 11 to 10 bets (1 to 1 in some casinos), and has a 2.7% house edge, roughly equal to European roulette.
Ultimately, though, you have to remember that this is a game of chance. The game favors the casino by design, and you will likely lose money in the long run – just mathematically speaking. On the other hand, it is also a great fun alternative if you love craps. So take the game in the spirit of that fun, and do not blame yourself too much if you lose your wager.