Sic Bo Strategy Guide

Brief History:

Sic Bo translates directly as, “Precious dice,” and is almost as old as the concept of gambling itself. In terms of dice games based on popularity, Sic Bo is a distant second to Craps in the United States, but can still be found in many U.S. casinos, particularly those with a high percentage of Asian clientele. The game remains very popular outside of the United States and is routinely found in Asian casinos as well as some in Great Britain.

The comparison to Craps begins and ends with, “Both games use dice,” other than that, Sic Bo is entirely different. For one thing, every roll resolves all bets on the table whereas, with Craps, an individual decision on many bets (such as Line bets and Place bets) may take several rolls to resolve.

It’s actually a surprise that this game is not more popular. A few game inventors actually created a similar two dice game called, “Scossa,” (which is Italian for, “Toss”) that also resolved all bets on every single roll, but that game failed to really take off.

There is also a game called, “Three Dice Football,” but again, the fact that game uses three dice is really the only way that it can be compared to Sic Bo.

The game itself is one of a kind and is based on pure chance. Many online casinos do not even have it, but if you are interested in the game, we will talk about a few casinos that offer it as this page continues.

SicBoStrategy

Gameplay:

In the game of Sic Bo, there are a number of bets that the player can place, and many players throw bets all over the layout as one would do with Roulette. Generally speaking, the lower the payout ratio of the bet, the lower the house edge. Bets that pay greater amounts often tend to have greater house edges, similar to many of the Proposition Bets at Craps.

First, let’s take a look at the Even Money bets:

Small:

This is a bet that the total of the three dice will result in any number between 4-10. If the result is a three, then this bet loses, and a triple of any other kind that would otherwise win (2-2-2 or 3-3-3) also results in a losing bet. It is those results that the house edge is derived from.

The probability of any of the three triples that would cause this bet to lose is a combined 3/216, you will notice that if you subtract the decimal result of 0.01388889 from .50, then you will come up with a result of .4861 (rounded) which reflects the probability of winning. We understand that this bet pays Even Money, so the house edge works out as such:

(1 * .4861) - (1 * .5139) = -0.0278

In other words, the House Edge on this bet is 2.78%.

This is one reason that Craps is generally a more player-favorable game than Sic Bo. The House Edge of either of the line bets, resolved, is only slightly more than half of the house edge of Sic Bo AND Sic Bo resolves in a single roll. On the other hand, a Line Bet on Craps can stay up for quite some time if a point is established and it takes awhile for the point to repeat or a Seven-Out to be thrown. In the meantime, players can also reduce the expected loss relative to their total action by taking Odds Bets on Craps, whereas Sic Bo has no equivalent.

Many players think it is to their advantage to make one of these Even Money bets on Sic Bo and then to hedge the bet with multiple smaller bets on the losing triples on the theory that it, “Gives them a 50/50 chance.” For lack of a better term, these players are making a bad situation worse because the Triple Bets have an even greater House Edge working against the player, in almost all cases, than those Even Money bets.

Big:

The Big bet is, unsurprisingly, the opposite of the small bet. The way this bet works is that a player will make a wager that the outcome will be between 11-17 whereas all triples (4-4-4, 5-5-5 and 6-6-6) will cause this bet to lose.

In terms of the math, this bet functions in exactly the same manner as the Small bet. Just think of it like betting Red/Black on Roulette, mathematically it makes no difference which you choose.

(1 * .4861) - (1 * .5139) = -0.0278

In other words, the House Edge on this bet is 2.78%.

Again, 2.78% is a high house edge compared to many games (including Craps) offered by online casinos as well as brick-and-mortar casinos. Additional games that are more favorable to the player are Video Poker (often), Blackjack (usually), Pai-Gow (always), Single-Zero Roulette as well as a few others. And, again, it bears repeating that this bet resolves very quickly, so a player who doesn’t run will is going to find himself or herself losing money in a hurry.

Totals Bets:

Totals bets are simply bets upon which a player can bet on a specific total, and these totals bets have their own marked spot on the layout. I’ll do a full breakdown for four and seventeen because those are the easiest to do, so that will give everyone an idea of the concept behind how all of these bets work.

Total bets almost universally have a greater house edge working against the player than do the Even Money bets. Once again, this is because the players have the ability to win many times the bet over in a single roll.

The only game that has the same house edge regardless of the likelihood of winning is Roulette, unless Roulette has the Imprisonment Rule, in which case, Even Money bets have a lower house edge on that game as well. Otherwise, much like side bets, the longer the odds, the greater the edge.

4 and 17:

We’re going to start with four and seventeen totals because the math behind them is really simple. The first thing that a player wants to ask is: How many ways can these totals come up?

We know that four would require there to be two ones, so here are the possible combinations:

1-1-2, 1-2-1, 2-1-1

That probably seems extremely simple, and it is! Some people might ask, “But isn’t it two ones and a two no matter what? How is that three different results?”

The answer to that question is because the two has one of three dice to be while the other dice can swap being ones. In other words, if I colored the dice red, green and blue, then you could have the following combinations:

Green-1, Blue-1, Red-2

Green-1, Blue-2, Red-1

Green-2, Blue-1, Red-1

That usually helps people to be able to better visualize what I am talking about. While these results may seem the same, they are actually possibly consistent of different dice.

Triples do not work that way, because all three dice have to be the same thing. Each individual die face has a 1 in 6 chance of appearing, meaning that there are 216 possible combinations. Of those 216, only one can consist of a specific triple. You could color the dice whatever you want, they would still have to all say one for the total to be three.

The seventeen bet works the same way as the four bet. You’re locked into having two sixes (otherwise you would have a number less than seventeen) so here are your possible results:

5-6-6, 6-5-6, 6-6-5

As you can see, we have three possible combinations that yield the desired result for players making this bet. Now, let’s take a look at the math:

As we have explained already, there are 216 possible dice combinations and either of these specific results encompassed three of them. Therefore, the probability of winning is 3/216:

3/216 = 0.01388888888 or a rounded 1.39%.

One thing that throws some people about the game of Sic Bo is that different casinos have different House Edges on the various total bets. They can’t change the likelihood of a result coming up, but what they can change is how much that result pays.

Common pays are 60:1 for Atlantic City, 50:1 for Macau and a liberal 62:1 for land-based Australian casinos, mileage may vary online.

We have determined the probability is .01388888, which means its opposite is .98611111, so now what we will do is determine the house edge based on the payouts for these bets:

Atlantic City Rules:

(60 * .01388888) - (1 * .98611111) = -0.15277831 or 15.2778%

That’s an awful House Edge, but it gets even worse for players in Macau.

Macau Rules:

(50 * .01388888) - (1 * .98611111) = -0.29166711 or 29.1667%

Can you imagine that? For every hundred you bet, you expect to lose $29.17!!! If that were a slot machine, it would be illegal in Nevada and most other U.S. States!

Fortunately, the Land Down Under knows it is more profitable to shear a sheep rather than kill it and offers the best odds:

Australian Rules:

(50 * .01388888) - (1 * .98611111) = -0.12500055 or 12.5%

12.5% is a terrible house edge, but to be fair, Australian rules are still better than the rules anywhere else. Although, some online casinos offer more generous payouts on these types of bets.

Five and Sixteen:

There are six ways to roll a five or sixteen, individually, feel free to figure them out if you want to. Like I said, I was only doing four/seventeen above individually to give an example of the way the math works out.

We also have no need to break things down into percentages any further. The probability of this result can simply be expressed as 6/216, whereas its opposite is 210/216.

American rules pay 30 on this result, thus:

(30 * 6/216) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.13888888888 or 13.889% House Edge

Things are really bizarre in Macau for this bet:

(18 * 6/216) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.47222222222 or 47.222% House Edge

How do you like an expectation of losing almost half of your money on a single bet? Is THAT really worth multiplying your bankroll by nineteen? Doesn’t seem like it to me. Again, things improve in Australia, this will become a theme.

(31 * 6/216) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.11111111111 or 11.111% House Edge

Granted, that’s only one unit better than American rules, but at least it’s something.

Six and Fifteen:

There are ten ways to roll either of these two totals individually. Therefore, we may express the probability of occurrence as 10/216 making its opposite 206/216. Again, there are different standard pays depending on where you are.

American rules work as follows:

(17 * 10/216) - (1 * 206/216) = -0.16666666666 or 16.667% House Edge

That’s obviously pretty terrible, but Macau is worse:

(14 * 10/216) - (1 * 206/216) = -0.30555555555 or 30.556% House Edge

Australian Rules are, unsurprisingly, better:

(18 * 10/216) - (1 * 206/216) = -0.12037037037 or 12.04% House Edge

Seven and Fourteen:

These numbers each have a 15/216 probability of coming up making the opposite of that 201/216, so let’s take a look at the House Edges for different gambling areas:

American Rules:

(12 * 15/216) - (1 * 201/216) = -0.09722222222 or 9.7222% House Edge

Macau rules are actually the same this time:

(12 * 15/216) - (1 * 201/216) = -0.09722222222 or 9.7222% House Edge

And the Australian Rules:

(12 * 15/216) - (1 * 201/216) = -0.09722222222 or 9.7222% House Edge

Are also the same.

Eight and Thirteen:

Individually, each of these two numbers has 21 combinations, so we are looking at a probability of 21/216 and a probability of not hitting of 195/216.

American Rules:

(8 * 21/216) - (1 * 195/216) = -.0125 or 12.5% House Edge

This bet is one of the rare cases in which a lower payout has a greater house edge against the player for a similar bet type. It’s usually the opposite way, but as you can see, the 7/14 bets are better.

Macau and Australian Rules are the same for these numbers.

Nine and Twelve:

Each of these two numbers come up with a probability of 25/216, which makes the probability of missing 191/216.

American Rules:

(6 * 25/216) - (1 * 191/216) = -0.18981481481 or 18.981% House Edge

Macau Rules are the same and Australia is better:

(7 * 25/216) - (1 * 191/216) = -0.07407407407 or 7.407% House Edge

I’ll give a kudos to Australia there, the house edge on those numbers is less than half of that in America!

Ten and Eleven:

These are the two most common totals and come up with 27/216 frequency. That means that each individual result would miss 189/216.

American Rules:

(6 * 27/216) - (1 * 189/216) = -.0125 or 12.5% House Edge

This is the same in both Macau and Australia.

OTHER SIC BO BETS:

There are a few other long-shot type bets available for Sic Bo players which we will now discuss. The first bet is one on a specific triple, which means 1-1-1, 2-2-2...etc

As we have already discussed, each of these only comes up on 1/216 rolls, so the probability of failure on it is 215/216. Let’s see what this comes to under American Rules:

(180 * 1/216) - (1 * 215/216) = -0.16203703703 or a 16.204% House Edge

The Macau Rules are awful:

(150 * 1/216) - (1 * 215/216) = -0.30092592592 or 30.09% House Edge

And, the Australian Rules are better than Macau, but same as American:

(180 * 1/216) - (1 * 215/216) = -0.16203703703 or a 16.204% House Edge

Any Triple:

If each triple has a 1/216 chance of coming up, and there are six different triples, then you have probably guessed the probability of any triple is 6/216. That means the probability of this bet missing is 210/216. I don’t know if this bet had always been there, or maybe it came about because players liked to bet on all of the triples so frequently that the casinos thought it would be prudent to make that easy to do.

Either way, here are the American Rules:

(30 * 6/216) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.13888888888 or 13.889% House Edge

This is 20% worse in Macau:

(24 * 6/216) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.30555555555 or 30.556%

And, better in Australia:

(31 * 6/216) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.11111111111 or 11.111%

CHART:

Those are the most common bets, but there are three others to discuss. Before we get into that, here is a table of the Sic Bo bets and House Edges by jurisdiction:

Sic Bo House Edges on Common Bets

BET   MACAU ATLANTIC CITY AUSTRALIA
Small, Big 2.78% 2.78%  2.78%
 4, 17 29.17% 15.28% 12.50%
5, 16 47.22% 13.89% 11.11%
6, 15 30.56% 16.67% 12.04%
7, 14 9.72% 9.72% 9.72%
8, 13 12.50% 12.50% 12.50%
9, 12 18.98% 18.98% 18.98%
10, 11 12.50% 12.50% 12.50%
Triple 30.56% 16.20% 16.20%
Any triple 30.56% 13.89% 11.11%
Domino (two faces) 33.33% 18.52% 11.11%
Domino (one face) 16.67% 16.67% 2.78%
Any number 7.87% 7.87% 3.7%

 

The bet known as, “Domino” is essentially a bet that the player makes if he wants one of each of two faces to appear in the three dice. For example, the player could bet on 3-4, and if those were both on any of the three dice, that would be a win.

Each of these bets has thirty possible combinations, which makes the probability of winning 30/216 and the probability of losing 186/216.

American Rules:

(5 * 30/216) - (1 186/216) = -0.16666666666 or 16.667% House Edge

Macau Rules are the same on this one, and Australia Rules are better:

(6 * 30/216) - (1 186/216) = -0.02777777777 or 2.778% House Edge

That’s actually pretty cool because that is the same House Edge as the Even Money bets.

Single Number:

This is a bet that a single number will come up on at least two dice. If the result is a triple on the selected number, the bet still wins. We know that there are three ways that two of the same face can come up on the dice with one opposing number from before, so that adds up to fifteen ways as there are five total opposing numbers.

For example, if you bet on, “1,” then two ones could come up with a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 in any order of appearance. There is also one way to make a triple, so we end up with a total of sixteen ways that an individual bet could win and 200 ways for it to lose.

American Rules:

(16/216 * 10) - (1 * 200/216) = -0.18518518518 or 18.519% House Edge

Macau Rules are worse:

(16/216 * 8) - (1 * 200/216) = -0.33333333333 or 33.333% House Edge

And Australian Rules are better:

(16/216 * 11) - (1 * 200/216) = -0.11111111111 or 11.111% House Edge

Single Number:

This is a bet on any individual number coming up, but it has different pays depending on how many of them come up. The first thing that we want to do is start with the probability of a number NOT coming up and work backwards:

Imagine you could make an, “Anything but one,” bet. The probability of winning such a bet would be:

(⅚ * ⅚ * ⅚) = 0.5787037037

What that means is that the probability of any number showing up AT LEAST once is:

1-0.5787037037 = .42129629629

Okay, we also know the probability of two of a face coming up is 15/216 and the probability of all three is 1/216, so we remove those and get our probability of ONLY one number:

.42129629629 - (15/216 + 1/216) = 0.34722222221

We can also see how many possibilities that corresponds to by doing this:

216 * .34722222221 = 75

Therefore, our probabilities are 75/216 for one die, 15/216 for two dice and 1/216 for all three matching the selected number. In the meantime, 125/216 of these bets will lose:

The pays according to Macau and American rules are:

One Die: Even Money 1:1

Two Dice: 2:1

Triple: 3:1

Therefore, the House Edge is:

(75/216) + (15/216 * 2) + (1/216 * 3) - (125/216) = -0.0787037037 or 7.87%

Australian Rules are better because they pay 12:1 as a bonus on the Triple, thus:

(75/216) + (15/216 * 2) + (1/216 * 12) - (125/216) = -0.03703703703 or 3.704% House Edge

Odd/Even:

Some casinos offer a bet that they total will be odd or even, with triples losing. This works out exactly the same as the Small/Big bets and yields a House Edge of 2.78%.

Sic Bo For Casino Operators:

Sic Bo is a game that works highly to the benefit of online casino operators because they can change the house edge to whatever they like, from a Variance standpoint, just by altering the pays. Many online casinos go with either the American or Australian rules, but others may offer even better odds than those, particularly on longer shot bets.

Unfortunately, a few online casinos operate under Macau rules, so players who like to make the more long-shot type bets should be encouraged to avoid those in favor of more liberal casinos.

Many casinos that have, at least in part, a zero house edge theme going will often modify the Sic Bo paytable to be as close to 0% as possible, generally with a very small house advantage. One way of doing this on an even money bet, for example, is simply to have Triples not lose on the Small/Big bets.

Many online casino operators who spread this game will not allow to be played on a bonus, because it invites the possibility of making a big bet on a longer-shot type bet and then switching to one of the 2.78% Even Money bets to grind out the playthrough, or better still, to switch to a different game altogether with an even lower House Edge even money bet, such as Craps.

When casinos do allow this game to be played on a bonus, players should expect greater wagering requirements to meet the necessary playthrough. This is true of most table games and is due to the reduced house edge. Casinos are also mostly aware of the possibility of opposite betting to grind out playthrough requirements, but a player doing that will likely be identified as a bonus abuser and winnings could be forfeited.

Casinos may even adjust the house edge by adding partial unit payouts. Common among these is adding a half a unit to reduce the House Edge on a particular bet.

Differences Between Live and Online Sic Bo:

The main difference between playing live and playing online is that online casinos generally have reduced minimums as compared to live casinos. This is certainly a boon to low-rollers who might enjoy being able to stretch out their playtime on a small buy-in.

Another difference is that a Sic Bo layout can get pretty crazy in the Live Casino if the table is full. There are bets going around all over the place, and honestly, the layout is probably going to confuse the player a bit if he or she does not become accustomed to looking at it online first to know where all of the bets are located.

If you have never played this game in a live casino before, then we would strongly recommend hopping online and finding it, even if you do it in a, “Play for Fun,” type mode, just to get an idea of how this game operates. New players and full tables usually don’t mix well, especially if the table seems to prefer a faster paced game.

Thoughts on Sic Bo:

I actually don’t recommend this game, unless there are reduced House Edges or an otherwise really good reason for playing, because the minimum House Edge of 2.78% is pretty high, especially for a table game.

There are much better games that can be played and stretch out your money further, especially in Live Casinos. Both Craps (especially on a busy table) and single-zero Roulette will play slower and have a lower house edge if you stick to the best bets. Most casinos offer better Video Poker games than the house edges offered with the Even Money Sic Bo bets. Furthermore, unless you’re looking at a 6:5 Blackjack game that also has otherwise bad rules, almost all Blackjack games are going to have a reduced house edge working against the player than will Sic Bo.

Unfortunately, you can either play the huge House Bets (which you shouldn’t) and hope to hit a pretty good payout by running a few results near one another in a short period of time, or you can sit there and stick to even money type bets and expect to lose money fairly quickly. The reason that you will lose quickly is because the game tends to be fast-paced, resolves in a single roll every time and has a huge house edge considering that the, “Main,” bets payout at Even Money.

Even with that, Sic Bo is loved by a good many people, particularly Asian gamblers. It can also be something of a social game if most of the table is betting the same way. In the event that there is a full table, it’s not exactly rare to hear raucous cheers coming from that direction when a long-shot bet that many people are on comes in. It’s not as popular as Baccarat, not even close, but it can often generate the same level of enthusiasm.

Honestly, I could see where the game might be a lot of fun, but that’s also a lot of house edge to be eating regardless of what you are betting. If you must play, expect and do not be surprised to lose quickly unless you are betting very small amounts.

Playing Sic Bo Online:

Before choosing your casino and making a deposit, if Sic Bo is your game, we strongly recommend taking a look at the paytable for that individual casino and making your decision accordingly. The only real exception is if you are going to stick strictly to Even Money bets, then it really doesn’t matter.

On the other bets, here are the software providers that, in general terms, offer the best game:

1.) Novomatic

2.) Gamesys N.V.

3.) Microgaming

4.) Playtech (Tie)

4.) Boss Media (Tie)

4.) 1X2 Gaming (Tie)

7.) Real Time Gaming---RTG

For whatever reason, RTG uses the Macau rules for some of the bets, which makes the Sic Bo game there (in general) a lot worse than any other online casino.

Casinos powered by Novomatic or Gamesys N.V. will tend to offer the best Sic Bo games, if they have them at all. The reason why is that these two software manufacturers have adjusted their payouts such that as many bets as possible have the same House Edge as do the Even Money bets. Naturally, you can’t change the probabilities, so they did that by increasing the payouts significantly.

One example is the Any Triple bet. All they did was increase the pays to 34:1, so here is what happens:

(6/216 * 34) - (1 * 210/216) = -0.02777777777 or 2.778% House Edge

As you can see, the House Edge is the same as it would be on any of the other Even Money bets, so this is definitely a software provider(s) to look for if you would like to make the long-shot bets at the game of Sic Bo. Just make sure to understand how all of the pays and probabilities correspond to the House Edge, because not all of the bets are as low as 2.78%.

Honestly, when you’re talking about payouts of 34:1, you’re now looking at a House Edge of 2.78% pretty close to single-zero Roulette, so that is basically reasonable. I’ll definitely extend a kudos to those software providers.

Sic Bo Bonuses:

3Dice:

3Dice is currently offering a Deposit Match Bonus of 110% on deposits up to $100. That would mean that the player will have $210 in bankroll and the Wagering Requirements are 60x Deposit + Bankroll. Sic Bo only counts as 50% WR’s, so you want to double the wagering requirements to 120x Deposit + Bonus which means that a total of $25,200 would have to be wagered.

At a House Edge of 2.778%, the player would expect to lose $700.56, which means that the Deposit + Bonus will both be gone.

However, this casino does specifically allow a wagering limit of $50 while playing on a Bonus, so I think we can have some fun here!

The first thing that you will want to do is go to the casino yourself and make sure that Sic Bo is still allowed to be played with a maximum wager of $50. That maximum wager is going to be imperative to having an advantage on this.

Unfortunately, the Table Limits specific to Sic Bo appear to be $1-$10, so my idea is not going to work. However, we can use this as a tool to determine what we might have done had the Table Limits been higher.

Since we’re already pretending, I am going to change the Bonus to 100% up to $100, which would make the total bankroll $200, except we are not going to do that. This casino has a minimum deposit of $10, so we want to deposit $25 for a total of $50 and bet it all at once.

On the other hand, maybe we can do something with this actual Bonus. If we deposit $10, then we will have a total bankroll of $20 (pretending that the bonus is 100%), so we are going to potentially make two $10 bets, each on Any Triple, which pays 30:1. You could also make each bet on Six or Fifteen, it makes no difference.

If we win the first time, our total bankroll will improve to $320. If we win the second one, then our total bankroll will improve to $310.

The probability of winning the first time is 6/36. The probability of losing the first time and winning the second time is (210/216 * 6/216) and the probability of losing both is (210/216 * 210/216.

We have wagering requirements of 120x, effectively, which means that we would have to wager a total of $2,400. Of course, either $10 or $20 of that would already have been wagered, but we will ignore that for simplicity. Because we expect to lose $66.67 on $2,400 in wagers, that will leave us with a balance of either $253.33 or $243.33 for a profit of either $243.33 or $233.33 by expectation.

On the other hand, if we lose both bets, then we would have lost only $10 in actual cash. We have a low probability of winning, in this case, but we may have a positive expectation:

(6/216 * 243.33) + (210/216 * 6/216 * 233.33) - (210/216 * 210/216) = 12.1153 or $12.12

That would leave us with a profit expectation of $12.12, which is about 121.2% of the amount that we are depositing. In other words, even though the amounts seem small, as you can see, there is a ton of upside with this play when we look at what we would profit if successful.

Another option is to play a single triple at 180:1 payout. That kind of bet would give us a total of either $1820 or $1810 in bankroll and we would expect to lose $66.67 completing the wagering requirements. The result of that is a bankroll of $1,753.33 or $1743.33 against a maximum potential cash loss of $10.

(1/216 * 1753.33) + (215/216 * 1/216 * 1743.33) - (215/216 * 215/216) = 15.1601129544 or $15.16 in expected profits.

The probability of winning with the expectation of 151.6% profit is significantly lower, but the expected value is better overall and the bet has an even greater upside.

The key is to structure the betting such that you are able to take advantage of the free funds to multiply your bankroll substantially and then grind out the wagering requirements on Even Money bets.

Either way, from a percentage standpoint, this is an excellent bonus. It’s just a shame that Sic Bo has a maximum bet of $10, otherwise, we would have an even greater profit expectation, as well.

If you want to determine if you can sacrifice a little more value for a greater expectation of winning on a lower variance, or perhaps lower house edge bet, then simply use the probabilities from the first part of this page and figure it out the same way I did. Feel free to send me a message if you have any problems figuring out the math, I’ll be happy to help you out with that.

lipstick profile image lipstick LCB Reviewer - last updated 2022-07-19
Back to articles

lcb activities in the last 24 hours

Join today and start earning rewards

You will immediately get full access to our online casino forum/chat plus receive our newsletter with news & exclusive bonuses every month.

Enter your name

Enter your email address

Join instantly with your social account

Search

Search Results

Forum

Casinos

Games

News

No Results

Select language

English English

Don't show this again

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share