The Forgotten Game

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October 16th, 2017
Back The Forgotten Game

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new page that I have written for this site on a classic game that has largely been ignored in the United States.

Actually, the page itself is not new, but I have added a lot of information specific to the house edge as well as play in online and land-based casinos. Furthermore, I have identified two promotions that can be played profitably, at least as of the time of this writing. If you want to check those out, you have to go to the page.

I understand that Sic Bo is enjoyed in many casinos in Macau, Australia and in the United Kingdom, but I can’t help but be surprised at the game’s relative lack of popularity here in the United States. When it can be found, it is usually found in Asian game rooms as that tends to be the demographic that enjoys the game the most.

I also understand that Craps is the most popular casino dice game, at least over here, by miles. With that being said, though, Sic Bo does differ from Craps in many ways such that I would think it would appeal to certain types of Craps players. Namely, those Crap players who like to make single-roll proposition bets.

Sic Bo

Here are a few major differences between Sic Bo and Craps:

1.) Sic Bo rolls resolve every bet on the layout every roll

The main difference between Sic Bo and Craps is that the former plays much faster as every bet, including Even Money bets, is resolved on every roll of the dice. With Craps, bets such as both Line Bets, Come Bets, Hard Ways and Place/Buy bets may take multiple rolls to resolve. For players looking to reduce expected loss per hour, that factor is a positive as the same bet amount can potentially last longer at the Craps Table prior to resolution.

Of course, not all Craps players are concerned with time on table, and many of them already make a ton of single roll proposition bets. One would think that the game of Sic Bo would appeal to them to a greater extent as they have the ability for every bet to resolve on a single roll, and there are any number of combinations of bets that can be made.

2.) Sic Bo has more individual bets

One factor that may make Sic Bo confusing for some people is the table layout. It really can be somewhat off-putting to a newbie who does not immediately understand what each spot on the layout means. Some of them are rather simple, for instance, the ones upon which a player is betting on a specific number. However, many of the spots on the layout are such that it is difficult to immediately know what one is doing. If you are interested in playing in a land-based casino, I would definitely recommend acclimating yourself to the different spots on the layout, and what they do online. You can do this in, “Play for Fun,” mode at many Internet casinos.

Sic Bo in Macau

In the meantime, all of the spots on the table have varying odds, house edges and payouts. I couldn’t even begin to compute how many possible betting choices there are. However, if you have ever watched a live Sic Bo table, you will see that many players scatter their chips all over the layout like maniacs. Some of them even seem to make bets that are opposed to one another!

3.) Higher House Edge

One downside compared to Craps is that every bet on the layout has a greater House Edge than do the best available bets on the Craps Table. For example, the Pass Line bet at Craps has a House Edge of 1.41% and the odds bets afford the player the opportunity to reduce the total expected loss percentage relative to their total action.

Sic Bo does not offer this opportunity, and in fact, the best bets at the Sic Bo table (Small, Big...or Even?odd-when available) have a House Edge of about 2.78%, which is almost double the baseline House Edge of a Craps Pass Line bet. Again, players at the Craps table also have the benefit of playing strictly multiple roll bets, so a small amount of money will tend to last longer on the two dice game. On the three dice game, even making Even Money bets, that 2.78% House Edge will eat many players alive in a hurry. You have to understand that represents a $2.78 expected loss for every $100 bet. Still better than slots.

4.) Higher Payouts

The one area that surprises me when it comes to Craps players not being attracted to Sic Bo is that the latter offers a lot more opportunity to win huge on a very small bet. Granted, these huge payouts are reflected in reduced probabilities of winning. For instance, a bet on a single type of triple (such as 1-1-1) may be 180, but the probability of it happening is only 1/216. Here is the way the House Edge math breaks down:

Sic Bo Online

(180 * 1/216) - (215/216) = -0.16203703703

Which means that the specific bet at that particular payout yields a House Edge of 16.204%. However, you will be surprised to find that, when combined with the right bonus at an online casino and minimum bet amount, this bet can become a huge player advantage in a serious hurry!!!

Anyway, I’m surprised that these long-shot type bettors on Craps aren’t more attracted to the even longer shots offered on the game of Sic Bo. This is especially true of the players who enjoy making side bets, such as the Fire Bet. In that specific case, the extreme long-shot bets on Sic Bo are the ones with a reduced house edge.

5.) It’s Just as Exciting

By no stretch of the imagination is the game that translates to, “Precious dice,” a boring one. That is especially true when you have a full table and a long shot bet hits, or alternatively, if a bunch of players are there betting the same way. The effect can be similar to a bunch of people betting the Pass Line on Craps hoping for a six to come, and when it does, a cacophony of sound.

In fact, Sic Bo is arguably more exciting, at least in terms of atmosphere, because players make the long-shot bets with even greater frequency. The result is that any individual bet could result in a huge ovation from the players!

6.) It’s Easier, If You Get the Layout

Sic Bo in Australia

Because Sic Bo resolves every single bet every single roll, it is arguably an easier game to play provided you understand what it is you want to bet and where you should place your chips to bet on that result. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes automatic. Even the crew loses track of what’s going on at the Craps Table from time to time. Occasionally, when an established point is six, it takes the crew a second to realize that the Pass Line wins when a six comes out.

It’s easier for everyone with Sic Bo. The dice come down and the winning results get marked, losing results get swept away, winners are paid and then everyone is on to the next roll.

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Another group of players that I am surprised don’t find Sic Bo attractive are Roulette players, especially when comparing the game to Double-Zero Roulette. Granted, the House Edge on many of the Sic Bo bets is greater, but the baseline house edge on the Even Money bets is lower as compared to a 00 Roulette wheel, and very close to even a single-zero Roulette wheel.

Besides that, the single number bettors (or corner/street...etc) bettors on Roulette are enticed by the fact that they can win many times over their initial bet. That factor becomes even more true on Sic Bo provided, of course, that players are willing to make the longer shot bets.

Furthermore, if players wish to bet on single numbers, much as with Roulette, it is an even simpler affair. The single number bets are very clearly marked on the layout, so a Sic Bo player may spread his bets out amongst multiple numbers with relative ease.

Sic Bo Betting Systems

You never really hear about betting systems such as the Martingale or Labouchere (which both don’t work) being applied to the game of Sic Bo, but I can say it would be pointless to do so as betting systems are worthless unless you are just playing them for fun and they have value to you. With that said, many Sic Bo players seem to believe that they can predict the results of future rolls based upon what happened on previous rolls.

Of course, that is utter nonsense. The dice absolutely do not care what happened on previous rolls, and if you colored the dice red, green and blue, the probability of any individual combination of numbers appearing always is and will be 1/216.

Novomatic Sic Bo

That doesn’t stop players from believing they know something that the dice don’t. Other, “Methods,” include not making a bet until certain numbers come up, and other silliness of that nature. The only real advantage to not making bets under certain conditions is that the player makes fewer bets, and as a result, has a reduced expect loss because less total money is being bet.

House Edges

Finally, with exception to online casinos, it is important to understand that the house edges working against the player on most of the available bets on the game are terrible. There are two online casino groups, Novomatic and Genisys N.V., who seem to have a goal of bringing the House Edge on as many bets as possible to the same 2.78% as the Even Money bets.

Unfortunately, in the physical casino, they are not quite as generous with reducing the house edges on all of the longer shot bets. If you take a look at the table I attached to the page linked above, you will see that there are different general edges for the paytables in the United States, Macau and Australia, generally speaking.

Overall, Australia offers the best Sic Bo games for gamblers who wish to gamble on outcomes other than those which pay Even Money. However, players should still recognize that those bets are going to be made against a house edge greater than the even money ones regardless. American casinos generally have the second-best rules, and the rules in Macau are absolutely terrible. One of the bets in Macau, in fact, has a house edge of nearly 50% working against the player.

Beating Online Sic Bo Bonuses

Conclusion

My opinion of Sic Bo in live casinos is that I would rather watch than play. It’s very difficult to justify playing a game with such a high house edge on bets that resolve so quickly. It might be a different story if the land casinos had paytables as nice as some of the online casinos, upon which players can enjoy an edge as low as 2.78% on a bet that pays out huge when it does hit. In the land casinos, though, that is sadly not the case.

I would really only play Sic Bo online for the purpose of beating bonuses, but again, I have identified two bonuses that can be beaten and have provided instruction on how to do the math for yourself on future bonuses. If you need help on the math for a bonus on Sic Bo, feel free to shoot me a PM at Brandon james (Mission146) and I will respond as quickly as possible. You will probably get the fastest response by PMing Mission146 at WizardofVegas.com.s.

I want to thank everyone for reading, and please share any of your Sic Bo stories or experiences in the comments!

“surprised at the game’s relative lack of popularity here in the United States”

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