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Rules and Strategies for
Sic Bo


We are quite used to the game of Craps, that uses two dice.  It's challenging enough to find winning strategies with two dice, considering all dice combinations.  How about an interesting game that uses three dice?  The combinations would be much more intriguing, wouldn't they? 

I'm referring to the game called "Sic Bo", that uses three dice on a layout that is quite different than the Craps layout.  Sic Bo has been recently popular in Casino of Montreal.  Sic Bo is an ancient Chinese dice game still played in many southeast Asian countries, where it's known as big and small.  Sic Bo is both exciting and easy to play, and offers players a wide variety of options.  Payouts range from even money up to 150 to 1.

The betting options available at Sic Bo are formed by the various combinations obtained with three dice.  These wagers and their payouts are reproduced on the gaming table.  Players may wager on as many combinations as desired per game.  The dice are shaken by dealer, by means of a vibrating platform under a round shape glass cover.  After all bets have been made, the dealer activates the dice shaker.  The outcome of each of the three dice appears on the display.  At the same time, the spaces corresponding to the winning combinations light up on the table.  The dealer then removes all losing bets from the table, such as in roulette, and proceeds to pay all winners.

There are 8 different ways you can bet.

1) You can bet on one number, which must appear on all three dice.  This is called a Three of a Kind.  Obviously, you have the least chances of hitting a winning bet, as there are 216 (6 X 6 X 6) dice combinations and only one of them can give you a 1,1,1 or 2,2,2 or 3,3,3 or 4,4,4 or 5,5,5 or 6,6,6.  If you do win however, it pays 150 to 1.  Considering your winning chances to be 1 out of 216, this gives the casino a huge advantage.

2) You can bet on one number, which must appear on two of the three dice.  This is called a Two of a Kind, such as a 1,1 or 2,2 or 3,3 or 4,4 or 5,5, or 6,6.  This pays 8 to 1, although your chances of winning is 5.82%, as there are 12 ways of making such a combination.

3) You can bet that the same number from 1 to 6 will appear on all three dice, such as either a 1,1,1 or 2,2,2 or 3,3,3 or 4,4,4 or 5,5,5 or 6,6,6.  This is called Any Three of a Kind and it pays 24 to 1.  You have 6 times more chances to win relative to the Three of a Kind.  The probability is still 6 out of 216 or about 2.78%.

4) There is an area called Small, that pays even money, where you bet that the sum of the three dice will be equal to 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 excluding a Three of a Kind.  That's why the 3 (3 ones) is not a winning bet, neither are the hardways 6 and 9, which provides the casino edge.

5) Similarly, there is an area called Big, that also pays even money, where you bet that the sum of the three dice will be equal to 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17 excluding a Three of a Kind.  That's why the 18 (3 sixes) is not a winning bet, neither are the hardways 12 and 15, which again provides the casino edge.

6) On the Sic Bo layout, there is a wide area with the numbers 4 to 17 written on them.  Those numbers correspond to the sum of the three dice.  So, you bet on a number from 4 to 17, which are the sum of all 3 dice and the payout table is as follows:

  • If the sum is 4, winning bets are paid 50 to 1;

  • If the sum is 5, winning bets are paid 30 to 1;

  • If the sum is 6, winning bets are paid 18 to 1;

  • If the sum is 7, winning bets are paid 12 to 1;

  • If the sum is 8, winning bets are paid 8 to 1;

  • If the sum is 9, winning bets are paid 6 to 1;

  • If the sum is 10, winning bets are paid 6 to 1;

  • If the sum is 11, winning bets are paid 6 to 1;

  • If the sum is 12, winning bets are paid 6 to 1;

  • If the sum is 13, winning bets are paid 8 to 1;

  • If the sum is 14, winning bets are paid 12 to 1;

  • If the sum is 15, winning bets are paid 18 to 1;

  • If the sum is 16, winning bets are paid 30 to 1;

  • If the sum is 17, winning bets are paid 50 to 1;

You can see the symmetrical pattern of payouts, depending on the dice combinations and their probability of appearance, always with an edge on the casino side, of course.

7) You can bet on two different numbers, which must appear on at least two of the three dice.  This bet is called Duo, and it pays 5 to 1.  The dice combinations you can bet on are: 1,2 or 1,3 or 1,4 or 1,5 or 1,6 or 2,3 or 2,4 or 2,5 or 2,6 or 3,4 or 3,5 or 3,6 or 4,5 or 4,6 or 5,6, as long as the two numbers are not the same.

8) And the last type of bet is called a simple One of a Kind, where you bet on a single number that must appear on one, two or all three dice.  This is shown in the layout as the dice face 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, or 5, or 6.

The payout table of this bet depends on the following:

  • If the number you chose appears on one of the three dice, you are paid even;

  • If the number you chose appears on two of the three dice, you are paid 2 to 1;

  • If the number you chose appears on three of the three dice, you are paid 3 to 1.

The game is called Sic Bo, meaning Small Big, probably because of the type of bets that pay even - types 4 and 5 above, which could be attractive to bet using our even money bet strategies (Superior Roulette, Reward, etc.).  What we need to determine is the percentage of the casino edge, in order to compare this type of bet to Baccarat or Roulette. 

Taking the Small bet, we can see that half of all dice combinations will give us a 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 or 10.  If we exclude the Three of a Kind, we are excluding the 1,1,1, the 2,2,2 and the 3,3,3.  Therefore, we are excluding 3 possibilities out of 108 (216/2).  In other words our chances of winning is 105 out of 216 or 48.61%.

Comparing this to roulette, our chances of winning on even bets are 18 out of 37 or 48.64% on a single zero wheel and 18 out of 38 or 47.37% on a double zero wheel.  So playing Sic Bo on even money bets such as Small Big is comparable to single zero roulette, the Three of a Kind decision acting as a zero.

So we can easily use any even bet strategy that we have developed for Roulette, that performs even better for single zero wheels.

 


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