How to Play Sic Bo

The ancient Chinese game of Sic Bo is played with three six-sided dice. It is very easy to learn and play, much like Roulette, because the object is simply to predict which numbers will appear on the faces of dice after they have been shaken.

Basic wagers include betting on a specific number, 1 through 6, or on an exact total, 4 through 17. Some bets, such as Big and Small, pay even money (1-to-1), while correctly predicting a “Triple,” which is all three dice showing the same number, yields a payout as high as 180-to-1.

Although some of the markings seen on the Sic Bo table are ideographic characters, there is no need whatsoever to learn any of the Chinese language to be able to play the game. Most of the betting areas actually show the faces of the dice that are being bet on. Lights under the translucent surface of the Sic Bo betting layout show what wagers have won.

Whatever unusual terms are used can be reviewed in the Sic Bo Glossary appearing on this web site. Surprisingly, there are far fewer incidences of slang in Sic Bo than are prevalent in the more familiar dice game known as Craps.

Sic Bo Wagering

Each Sic Bo “spin” begins with the placement of bets directly on the Sic Bo table layout. The minimum and maximum limits for betting will be clearly posted, usually on a placard somewhere on the table. Chips should be stacked within the lines of the selected betting area, so that they do not protrude beyond the boundaries of the bet.

Many types of wagers are possible. Betting on the total of the three dice can be done in two ways. Perhaps the easiest is predicting whether the total will be Small (4~10) or Big (11~17). A correct wager will pay 1-to-1, but loses if the combination is a Triple, 2-2-2, 3-3-3, 4-4-4, or 5-5-5.

More difficult is selecting the specific total that will come up, 4 through 17. The payouts for winners will vary, depending on the number chosen. See the section on Sic Bo Odds for the exact amounts that can be won.

Other popular bets are on combinations of faces showing on the dice. It is possible to bet on a single number, 1 through 6, or on two numbers, such as 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc. Wagers can be made on specified “Doubles” or “Pairs” appearing, on exact Triples, or on Any Double or Any Triple. Again, payouts vary from 1-to-1 to 150-to-1, depending on the numbers chosen.

Sic Bo in Action

Once all of the bets have been placed, it is time for the dealer to “spin” the three Sic Bo dice. In most casinos, they are shaken mechanically, using a revolving “Cage” or a spring-trigger activated “Shaker” that resembles a snow globe. Unlike Craps, players never actually touch the dice. The dealer handles each spin.

As soon as the dice come to rest, their faces are keyed into the Sic Bo table’s lighting mechanism so that the winning sections light up from underneath the surface. This makes it very easy to see which bets have won and which have lost. The dealer will clear away all losing chips from the unlit sections, and then pay out winners at established odds. Players can store their chips in grooves that appear in the railing around the table or else stack them on the unmarked felt apron that surrounds the betting field.

Compared to many casino table games, Sic Bo may seem slow. It is played at a leisurely pace, giving all players plenty of time to make their decisions and place their bets. Watching a few spins before playing will give beginners a good idea of how wagering is done.