Sic Bo Etiquette

Playing Sic Bo at a crowded table can be a truly cross-cultural experience. Even in its Westernized form outside Macau, Sic Bo is an inherently Chinese game of chance, so it is subject to some particularly Oriental forms of behavior. Do not be too surprised if players’ table manners do not always conform to American or European concepts of proper etiquette.

Placing Sic Bo Wagers

For example, it is quite all right to push past other players to make a wager. China is a very populous country where personal space is not accorded the same priority it is in many other regions of the world. A certain amount of physical contact is to be expected in close quarters, so don’t be offended by arms reaching in from behind or a bit of jostling for position in front of the layout as players place their chips. Along the same lines, don’t expect any apologies for an unintended bump or shove, either.

That said, touching a gambler’s shoulder is considered very poor manners that can bring bad luck. So even if there is lots of jockeying going on, from elbow rubbing to hip bumping, shoulders are off limits.

In order to wager, chips must be put down on the betting layout before the dice are “spun” but not before the lit sections of the table surface are turned off from the previous result. Although there is ample time to wager, most players make a dash to get their chips down just as soon as the lights go off. And they can hardly be blamed. The most popular betting areas, like Single 6 and Total 8, have very little room for wagering. Getting a good spot may require fast hands.

Be very careful to position chips completely within the betting area selected. Also, keep an eye on wagers to make sure they are not inadvertently pushed off the desired spot. Once the spin of the dice begins, chips may not be touched again until the payouts are made. Players are responsible for counting up their winnings and ensuring that the total amount received is correct.

Sic Bo Superstitions

Numerous superstitions pertain to Sic Bo. These range from a taboo on counting money while playing to the belief that wearing red at the table brings good luck. In fact, red undergarments are considered to be especially auspicious.

Many Chinese players believe that a baby ghost lives behind the Sic Bo table. Feeding the ghost with sugar will bring good fortune. Ignoring the ghost will cause it to stop a player from winning.

The gambling superstitions are by no means limited to the Sic Bo table, either. When staying at a resort casino, players will avoid checking into rooms that bear the number 4 (synonymous with death) and seek out those containing the number 8 (meaning happiness). Seeing a nun or priest before gambling is bad luck, as is entering the casino through the main entrance—use a side door.

Of course, praying is considered appropriate before, during, and after playing Sic Bo. Those who are truly into appeasing the spirits of good fortune may also make offerings of fruit, burn a candle, or donate money at a shrine or temple.

Nor is the casino itself immune from such long-held superstitions. The “feng shui” (spiritual positioning) of the Sic Bo table can attract money or act like a leak in the House’s cash bucket. Players who are very aware of feng shui practices may avoid a table that is poorly situated on the casino floor.