Complete Guide to Sic Bo and Casinos to Play at 2020
Sic Bo is the most popular casino dice game other than craps, and the major difference between the two is that Sic Bo uses three dice. That allows for many more types of bets and many more ways to get paid and to create your own strategies. A lot of variation exists between the payouts, so game and casino selection is an important part of playing, but here we show you everything you need to know about enjoying this game online.
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Introduction to Sic Bo Online
Dice games in general are really old, and they evolved into just about every form of board game that uses them today. That’s to say that they spread into tons of different titles in different verticals, genres and sub-genres. In the casino world, this led primarily to craps and Sic Bo.
The origins of Sic Bo are Asian while craps comes from a Western influence, and you can see that reflected in certain things like the names of the bets and where the games are the most popular. Baccarat is the only game that’s consistently more popular than Sic Bo in most Asian countries from a casino perspective, and you can find it in plenty of land-based casinos in the United States and Europe as well.
While there isn’t much strategy from a skill-based sense for this game, there are still plenty of decisions to be made that can affect your chances of winning and the payout rate of the game in general.
A Brief History of Sic Bo
There’s not much information out there about how Sic Bo first started being played. However, what is known is that there are English variations of the game called chuck-a-luck and grand hazard that made their way across Europe. It’s also known that the early 1900s saw Chinese immigrants bring the game to the United States.
You can also see Sic bo listed as “tai sai,” “hi-lo” or “big and small” at various locations, particularly in live dealer casinos found online where the name of the game can change a bit based on the locality.
The Basic Rules and Wagers of Sic Bo
The basic idea behind Sic Bo online is that you will place bets on a table of available wagers, three dice are rolled, and the winners and losers of the bets are based on whether or not the numbers come up that you made bets on.
What’s interesting about this game is that there are enough dice that you start getting elements of traditional lotteries in how the gameplay works from a practical standpoint as well.
A lot of different types of wagers are available, and different casinos and software companies will have varying payouts for a lot of the bets. As such, game selection is a critical part of the overall strategy for the game, which is something we’ll get into further down below when we look at which software companies offer online Sic Bo and what you can expect in terms of payouts and so on.
Small and Big
Small and Big are the two most basic bets in the entire game. They always pay even money (aka 1:1) and almost always have a house edge of about 2.78 percent because virtually every game that you’ll find online or in a land-based casino will have the same payouts with the same odds for these two wagers.
You’ll usually find these wagers in the top-left and top-right corners of most traditional table layouts.
- Small – Wins with a total of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10.
- Big – Wins with a total of 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17.
There are some exceptions to these bets, however. You do not win if you get a triple, which means all three dice show the same number. For example, if you made a wager on Small, but the dice all come up as twos for a total of six, you do not get paid since that’s a triple.
Both the Small and Big have the same odds, and most players who are at the Sic Bo tables will play with one of these two wagers. It’s not advised to play with both since you will break even or lose on every single wager, but it is worth noting that virtually every reasonable strategy for this game will involve one of these two bets.
From left to right across the middle of a Sic Bo online table layout, you’ll see the numbers 10 through 4 followed by the numbers 17 through 11 with payouts underneath them. These are called the “Total” wagers, and they’re bets that all three dice will add up to the total that you have chosen. The payouts listed under these totals are the amounts that you will win, respectively.
The reason that these numbers for the Total wagers do not go in order is that the payouts match up from the “inside” out. The 4 and 17 bets have the same payouts, the 5 and 16 bets have the same payouts and so on.
The better the payouts for these wagers, the higher the overall payout rate will be for them and the lower the house edge will be. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll virtually never find a game where any of these total bets have a house edge of less than 10 percent, which means that the whole range of available wagers is basically a set of trap bets for people who aren’t familiar with the game.
For a few examples, here are the house advantages for some of the common payout rates for these Total wagers:
|High Total||Low Total||Payout Rate||House Edge|
In short, you should stay away from the Total wagers if you have any inclination of trying to get a good deal on your bets whatsoever.
Doubles and Triples
Usually at the top of the betting spread, you’ll see options for different ways to wager on hitting doubles or triples. In Sic Bo, a double is a roll that has two numbers that are the same, and a triple is when you have a roll with all three numbers matching. You’ll have options to hit specific doubles combinations and specific triples combinations, but you’ll also have a general bet that will allow you to bet on any triple being wagered.
If you wager on a specific double, for example, a double of fives, then you’ll win if at least two fives are rolled. This includes a triple where three fives are rolled. This usually pays between 8:1 and 11:1, but you can find other payouts sometimes as well. Generally speaking, specific doubles are a sucker’s bet that you should avoid.
For a specific triple, the house advantage is pretty high up there as well. For a quick idea, you’ll see the following house advantages per each payout rate:
- 150x (30.09% house advantage)
- 160x (25.46% house advantage)
- 170x (20.83% house advantage)
- 180x (16.20% house advantage)
- 190x (11.57% house advantage)
In any event, you have just under half of a percentage point of a chance to win with a specific triple, so it’s very much a long shot wager regardless.
For the last of the bets that you’ll usually see available, you’ll have two different types of what are called Domino bets. A Domino bet is a wager on two specific numbers showing up in a specific way, but there are two ways they can be awarded.
- A One-face Domino Bet is the same as a double wager in terms of how it wins, so wagering on a 3-3 would win if you hit a 1-3-3, a 2-3-3, a 3-3-3 and so on.
- A Two-face Domino Bet is a wager on a specific two-number combination showing up in the roll. For example, a Two-face Domino Bet on 1-4 would win on 1-4-1, 1-4-2, 1-4-3, etc.
The chances of either of these winning is the same, so you’ll see the same types of payouts on each. At the lower end of what you’ll typically see available, when it pays 8:1, that has a house advantage of 33.3 percent. On the upper end, the best payout you’ll normally see for a Domino wager of either kind is 11:1, and that has a house edge of 11.1 percent.
One Face Wagers: Single Number Wins
One of the most basic wagers you can take is a bet on a single number, and these are usually called “One Face” wagers. These are usually listed at the bottom of the table, and they’re be in big spaces that are easy to see. This may be a part of a strategy to get more people to take these bets since they’re easy to understand and have a pretty high house edge in most cases.
You’ll typically get 1:1 or even money for a bet that needs at least a single one of your numbers to come up. If you were to bet on six for a single number, any of the three dice showing a six will win your wager, and it pays 1:1.
You can also bet for two matches or three matches, but these are the same as the bets on specific Doubles or Triples, though sometimes the payouts and resulting house edges will be the same. When playing online Sic Bo, the payouts can vary so wildly on these bets that there’s a really wide range of house advantages available with them. In general, however, they should be avoided.
Options to Play Sic Bo Online
What we often see with dice-based games in general with a lot of different available bets is that there’s no standardized pay table for a lot of what’s available in terms of different wagers. This would allow gambling houses to put together their own payouts however they saw fit for their particular patrons, and while that makes sense, it’s still irritating for players in modern times.
With the online environment, this has been made even more serious because all of the different software companies have different Sic Bo pay tables with substantial variations.
In what follows, we’re going to look at the major software companies that offer this game, how their pay tables differ and what you can expect from each as broken down into a few different categories: Total wagers, Triple wagers (specific and any), Domino wagers and One Face wagers.
Realtime Gaming and Playtech Sic Bo
RTG and Playtech have a lot of great things to offer in the general sense, but their Sic Bo pay tables are pretty terrible when compared to the competition. We have combined these competitors here because they actually share the same sets of payouts for all of the major bets.
- Total Wagers – They have the standard 60-30-17-12-8-6-6 structure that you see in many land-based casinos.
- Triple Wagers – You’ll get 180x for a specific triple and 30x for any triple, both of which are the worst payouts available online.
- Domino Wagers – These payouts here are 10x for a one-face Domino wager and 5x for a two-face, which are also the worst found online.
- One Face Wagers – As if we were seeing a pattern here, the payout structure for One-face wagers are 3-2-1 (3x for a triple, 2x for a double and 1x for a single), which are also tied for the worst you’ll find online.
The only good thing about their Sic Bo payouts online are that the small and big wagers still pay out at the industry standard of 1:1 and haven’t somehow been lowered.
Gamesys NV and Novomatic Sic Bo
A much better option with better payouts all-around is the Sic Bo game produced by Gamesys NV. They actually beat Playtech and Realtime Gaming on every single level of wager except for the small and big, which are still paid out at the standard 1:1 or even money rate.
- Total Wagers – The structure of 69-34-20-13-9-7-6 means that they beat or tie Playtech and RTG on every single possible bet in this set.
- Triple Wagers – A win for a specific triple gets you 208x, and a bet for any triple pays 34x, both of which are substantially better than the above.
- Domino Wagers – Two-face Domino wagers get you 6x while one-face Domino bets get 11x.
- One Face Wagers – Finally, the one-face payout structure is so much better that it’s ridiculous with 16x for three, 2x for two and 1x for one.
As you can see Gamesys NV plows Realtime Gaming and Novomatic out of the water, and they almost actually tie with Novomatic for having the best Sic Bo payouts even though their structures aren’t exactly the same. There are two slight differences that you can find between their payout schedules for this game:
- Novomatic pays 15x for a triple one-face bet instead of 16x.
- Novomatic pays 207x for a specific triple win instead of 208x.
As we can see, the differences between the two are minimal, and both are much better than anything RTG or Playtech come close to. It’s worth noting that all other software providers are closer to what RTG and Playtech have to offer without being quite as bad, but Novomatic and Gamesys NV are in a league of their own in terms of offering as much value as they can in this game.
The Best Sic Bo Strategy Available
Because of the limited nature of this game in terms of which bets are available, it’s pretty easy to outline the best strategies for Sic Bo. They really only come down to three key determinations: game selection, bet selection and the strategic use of promotions and bonuses to get the best values possible.
While you’re free to pick out whatever you want in terms of how you play the game, what we’re going to outline here will show you the ways to get the best payout rates possible by keeping the house advantage as low as it can possibly get when playing online Sic Bo.
Game Selection and Bet Selection
Up above, we broke down how Gamesys NV and Novomatic have the absolute best Sic Bo pay tables of any online casino software provider. All of their payouts are the same except for the triple one-face and the specific triple wins, so we can talk about their games collectively while citing the relevant differences for these two specific wagers, which we’ll do first right here:
|Software Provider||Triple One-face||Specific Triple|
|Gamesys NV||1.85%|| 3.24%
The chart above lists the house edges for the two wagers that differ between these two software providers. In what follows, we’re going to list out a few other wagers that Novomatic and Gamesys NV have the same payout rates for that are among the best available overall. Every one of these bets has a house advantage of 2.78 percent with either of these software providers.
- Small or Big
- Total 4/17
- Total 5/16
- Total 6/15
- Total 7/14
- Total 8/13
- Any Triple
- Two-face Domino
Overall, that means that the single best bet you can make is a Triple One-face wager with the Gamesys NV software for a house edge of just 1.85 percent, but in reality, any of the bets listed in the 2.78 percent list above are in the same league as what you can find with something like European Roulette or an average blackjack player in terms of payout rates.
Leveraging Promotions and Bonuses
The thing about Sic Bo casino bonuses and promotions is that you won’t always find really great offers because the people running the show know that you could just play the small or big and not even really pay attention to the results and still turn a profit over the house if you pick and choose your bonuses correctly. As a result, you have to really pay attention to get good deals.
The thing you should be aiming for is to just lower your effective house edge as much as you can by getting as much value as you can from your play. That can include everything from loyalty points programs to working off play-through requirements from any available bonuses and offers.
Sic Bo is in a weird spot where it’s not as well-known as other titles, so some casino promotions won’t specifically name it as a game that you can’t play to clear certain requirements. Others will have you need to clear a much higher requirement with this game than something like online slots.
In any event, loyalty point offers are usually a pretty decent bet with this game since it’s rarely excluded from earning, and every little bit helps when it comes to lowering the house edge after it’s all said and done.
The Best Sic Bo Online Casinos
Your software selection is the first criterion that you’ll have to take into consideration when it comes to picking out the best online casinos for Sic Bo. This means a focus on sites that use the Gamesys NV or Novomatic versions of the game will be a top priority, and it’s something you should really look into before you decide to make a deposit at a casino if you’re specifically looking to play Sic Bo as your main game.
From there, you should pick the site that will give you the most promotional value. Since you’ll be getting a fair amount of your value from loyalty points types of programs, and since you’ll tend to get more value from those programs the longer you stay at the same site, it’s usually best to pick out one site to play with and to stick with it for Sic Bo instead of jumping around.
For some other games, it can be better to hop from site to site to take advantage of larger-than-average first deposit bonus packages, but that’s not the case with Sic Bo online.
As far as dice games go, Sic Bo doesn’t really get as much love from Western audiences as it probably should considering it’s a simpler game than craps, which is iconic considering craps only uses two dice when Sic Bo uses three. More to the point, you can get a pretty low house edge at the top Sic Bo online casinos that use the right software.
Despite the fact that the game board can look a bit complicated at first, this game is pretty easy to learn within less than an hour’s time, and it provides a high enough level of action that we think it will appeal to a lot of table game players who might not have tried it before for one reason or another.