The game of Sic Bo meaning, ‘Dice Pair,’ and occasionally alternatively known as Tai Sai or Dai Siu is an ancient Chinese dice game enjoying tremendous popularity in casinos in Macau and can also occasionally be found at casinos elsewhere in the world sizeable enough to have an Asian gaming room. The majority of such casinos (outside of Asian countries) would be located in either Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
The best of the best, our own Wizard of Odds has already spoken about Sic Bo on this site.
The game of Sic Bo is largely so popular owing to how simple it is to play, the player need only make a bet on a particular result, or on different results, given a roll of three dice, and the player will either win or lose according to whether or not the desired result comes to fruition. The game is, ‘Easier,’ than Craps to understand in the sense that there are no multi-roll bets or side bets with which to concern oneself, every single bet is decided by one roll of the three dice.
The side bets are essentially built right into the game as more specific results, by definition, are less likely than more generalized results. For example, the, ‘Small,’ bet wins on a result of 4-10 and loses only on a result of three (1-1-1), six (2-2-2) and nine (3-3-3) otherwise, it would have been too high and it would have lost, anyway. The, ‘Big,’ bet functions in the same manner winning on a result of 11-17 and losing on twelve, (4-4-4) fifteen (5-5-5) and eighteen (6-6-6), otherwise the bet is a winner. The bet pays Even Money and has a House Edge of 2.78%
A much longer shot bet, such as the Triple bet, often pays as high as 180-to-1 in your average casino in either Australia or the United States (Macau is often 150-to-1), but the probability of winning is only 0.0462963% when choosing a specific triple, resulting in a House Edge of 16.2037% even under the more liberal 180-to-1 payout.
For anyone who thinks Sic Bo is a potentially interesting game that can be enjoyed, or who finds all of the possible combinations of bets that can be made on the Sic Bo layout intriguing, then that might be the game for you. My advice to those looking to expose their money to a dice game with a much lower house edge (especially when considering the Odds bet on the Pass Line or Don’t Pass) my advice is to stick to Craps. Craps, actually, has quite a few bets on the table with a lower house edge (depending on the conditions for a few bets, such as the Field Bet) than any bet that can be found on the Sic Bo layout. The Pass, Don’t Pass, Place Six, Place Eight and Odds bets, for example, are bets that will always have a lower house edge than that which can be found with Sic Bo.
When it comes to exploiting online casino promotions, however, the variance of certain bets combined with bonuses and a lowish House Edge (such as the Domino Bet, in which the player chooses two unique numbers and at least one number of each the player chooses shows) might provide a combination of a low enough house edge (Australian Rules pay 6-to-1 for a House Edge of 2.78%) and high enough variance that a bonus might be exploited by a player betting a substantial enough percentage of his or her bankroll per attempt. However, Sic Bo is also often one of the first games to be excluded by an online casino for bonus play, even if the casino might allow other table games. Interestingly enough, the online casinos are more concerned with opposite betting (high/low, even/odd) than with the prospect of a player using Sic Bo to find a mathematical edge over a promotion.
The table above is borrowed from Wizard of Odds and shows the House Edge for a given bet in the game based upon the Wizard’s findings. The Even/Odd bet is a bet that is generally only available in Macau, but it is essentially the same thing as the Small/Big bet in that it only loses against triples of one number (other than its opposite, of course) and, therefore, has the same House Edge as the Even/Odd bet.
Generally speaking, Australia, by far, has the most liberal rules for the dice game with casinos in other countries, at best, matching their payouts on a given bet.
We have already discussed some of the bets, but of the ones we have not discussed, any of the bets with two numbers involved is simply a bet on one or the other of those given totals and pays if that result comes through. The, “Any Triple,” bet is just a bet on Any Triple and may well be the one the online casinos could be afraid of because a player with a high enough balance could achieve a profit and then grind out the playthrough offsetting a bet such as the High/Low with a hedge on, “Any Triple,” to, ‘Lock in,’ a profit. In terms of expectation, of course, that is a terrible strategy and the player would do much better just to reduce variance by making both the High/Low bets and eating his/her losses when a triple comes up.
The double bet is a simple one that wins if any two of the player’s selected number appears.
Finally, the, ‘Any one number,’ bet pays if a number selected by the player appears one or more times with increasing pays based upon how many times it appears.
In order to evaluate the Sic Bo game from one software provider to another, the first thing that I did was to go through all of the WizardofOdds.com casino software reviews, with exception to software types in which only five or fewer games were reviewed, and I have determined the House Edge for Sic Bo based on those reviews. We will evaluate the Sic Bo game, if offered, for all online casinos that meet the criteria. Additionally, I will put any bets with a house edge as low or lower than the Australian version of the game in bold and will underline any games with a house edge greater than both the American and Macau versions, if applicable.
The pays and corresponding house edge for casinos operating on PlayTech Software are identical to the Atlantic City paytable shown above.
Casinos powered by MicroGaming follow the Australian Sic Bo Rules and, therefore, have a house edge either as good or better than every other online casino software provider out there for every single bet on the layout. The only exceptions to this are Gamesys Casino and Novomatic Casinos, but there are only a few powered by Gamesys software and (since those casinos may be powered by other software as Gamesys does not demand exclusivity) those casinos may not even have Sic Bo. However, the full table for Gamesys Software casino is shown below:
Gamesys also offers a, ‘Zero House Edge,’ casino for many of their games, but it is even less likely that the few casinos that use Gamesys software at all will use the, ‘Zero House Edge,’ version of the Sic Bo bets.
Novomatic powered casinos also use a table similar to the Gamesys one above, but not quite as good on every single bet. Similarly, Novomatic is not as major a software provider as MicroGaming, or other similar providers:
The only real difference between the Novomatic and the Gamesys paytables are the, ‘Specific Triple,’ bet is a little more favorable at Gamesys.
Much like Playtech, casinos supported by Boss Media follow the U.S. paytables for every single bet available on the game with one notable exception, Boss Media casinos use Australian Rules for the, “Domino,” bet. The pay, as mentioned, would therefore be 6-to-1 with a House Edge of 2.78%, same as either of the even money bets available. The same can be said for Realtime Gaming who also uses Atlantic City rules for everything with exception to Australian Rules on the Domino bet.
AmigoTechs, on the other hand, uses Atlantic City rules for everything with exception to the Australian Rules, ‘Single Number,’ bet.
Cryptologic is interesting in that it offers two types of Sic Bo, the main game is Atlantic City rules and a special, ‘VIP Sic Bo,’ has the Australian Rules.
1X2 Gaming software follows the Atlantic City pays and house edges to the number.
Unless you have a really good reason for playing there, or are sticking to Even Money (or a few other) bets, World Gaming casinos (overall) offer the second worst Sic Bo game to be found. While the pays are the same as U.S. land casino rules for High/Low, 5/16, 7/14, 8/13, 9/12, 10/11, Two Die and Any Number, the odds are worse than in any brick-and-mortar casino: for 4/17 the house edge is 29.17% the house edge on the Triple is 30.09%, Any Triple is 30.56%, Double is 33.33%. The only bet better than the U.S. or Macau versions of the game offered by World Gaming is the 12.04% on the 6/15, which pays the same as land casino in Macau.
Other than the fact that Aqua Online powered casinos offer the Macau house edge of 11.11% on the double, the odds are otherwise terrible with every single bet being as bad (and mostly worse) than at any physical casino anywhere.
In conclusion, let’s look at the Pros and Cons of online Sic Bo:
- Unless you live in Australia, several online Sic Bo games are better than what may be available at the Brick and Mortar casino nearest you. The Small/Big bet will be the same no matter where you go, but major software providers (such as WagerWorks) offer Australian rules and many other providers, such as Realtime, Playtech and Boss Media offer Australian rules on the, ‘Domino,’ bet with pays of 6-to-1.
- If you can find it, Gamesys and Novomatic powered Sic Bo games offer a more favorable house edge on most bets than those of any other casino, whether physical or online, with exception to the Small/Big bets, which are always the same. Gamesys also has a, ‘Zero House Edge,’ suite, but it is difficult to tell whether any casinos are actually running that Sic Bo game.
- Combined with a lucrative enough deposit match, highish Variance bets such as the Domino Bet can be combined with their liberal House Edge versions of the bet to make large bets (relative to total bankroll) to attempt to hit a big win and then grind out the playthrough at a profit. This may especially be true at Gamesys and Novomatic casinos (if applicable) due to having lower house edges on bets that pay much more relative to the amount bet! The 2.78% House Edges for the, ‘Any Triple,’ bet for Novomatic and Gamesys are excellent examples of this, of course, single-zero Roulette would still be lower.
- Even if you do find a casino with a potentially exploitable Table Games deposit match bonus, Sic Bo tends to be a game not allowed by the Bonus Rules largely due to its potential exploitability. In addition to actual exploitability is the perceived exploitability of allowing players to opposite bet at a relatively low house edge.
- The game is still not the lowest house edge table game available at most casinos, online or otherwise, even with the Small/Big bet. Craps and most Blackjack games, just to name a few, still have a lower house edge than Sic Bo, (especially when one factors in playing odds at Craps) so even though the even money bets at the three dice game aren’t terrible, there are still games that are much better.
- While 2.78% might seem like a reasonably low house edge, assuming a player is flat betting, that player is going to get eaten alive on a game with that sort of house edge and such quick resolutions while making even money bets. Simply put, if a player does get ahead making even money bets, they won’t stay that way very long.
Ultimately, while Sic Bo is certainly not the worst game in an Internet or Brick-and-Mortar casino, it is also not the best, and I would stay away from it unless you already really like it or are intrigued by the different combinations of bets you can make. Other than perhaps exploiting a bonus, this is one that you can play for fun, but don’t expect for a second to come out ahead in the long run.