Sic Bo - How to Play

Sic Bo

Sic Bo is a very interesting and totally unconventional game that means ‘dice pair’ in Chinese. The game originated in Ancient China and is one of the lesser known games of Chinese origin. Sic Bo is often found in casinos in specifically designated rooms for Asian games.

The game uses three dice and a betting table and players have a wide range of betting options, dependant on the role of the dice. The basic odds for the bets are the same but most casinos will have specific house rules which affect the way the bets are paid out. The actual layout of the table might also differ between gambling establishments. Click for details on history and Sic Bo table layout.

The Basics

Sic Bo requires players to place their bets on the betting table and to predict the outcome of the roll of the dice. Games like craps, using two dice, are hard enough to predict the roll outcome. Sic Bo takes this concept that bit further and the use of three dice makes it extra challenging. The payouts, however, are accordingly – ranging from even money to 150:1.

The betting options for Sic Bo are based on the outcome of the roll of three dice. A player’s wagers and payouts are placed on a betting table and players are allowed to bet on as many combinations of predicted outcomes as they want. The players all have to place their bets on the table and when the dealer announces that betting must stop, players remove their hands from the table.

The dice are not thrown by any specific player like in other dice throwing casino games, but rather by a special mechanism controlled by the dealer. This mechanism is a vibrating platform which is situated under a round shaped glass cover and is called the ‘dice shaker’. Once the dice have finished being shaken, the results are displayed on the table. The winning combinations are announced by the dealer – all winning bets are paid out and all losing bets are collected.

Sic Bo Table Layout

Sic Bo Table Layout

Sic Bo Betting Options

  • Three of a Kind: A player bets on one specific number which must appear on all three of the dice faces. For example, all dice must show a 1,1,1 or 2,2,2 etc. This option has the highest payout but the lowest chance of being hit. The chance of hitting this type of bet is 216:1 and the payout is 150:1. The casino has quite an advantage of the ‘three of a kind’ bet.
  • Two of a Kind: A player bets on one number that must appear on two of the three dice. For example, two dice must show the same one number – 2,2; 4,4 etc. This bet generally pays 8:1 and there is a 5.82% chance of winning this combination – there are 12 possible ways that this combination can be formed.
  • Any Three of a Kind: A player bets that any number will appear on all three dice faces. This differs from a regular ‘three of a kind’ bet whereby the player bets on a specific number. This bet allows the player to bet on any combination of 3 matched numbers. This bet pays 24:1 and offers a 2.78% probability.
  • Small: A player bets that the total of the three dice will be equal to 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10. This bet, which pays even money, does not include three of a kind (i.e. three 1s; three 2s or three 3s).
  • Big: A player bets that the total of the three dice will be equal to 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17. This bet pays even money and does not include three of a kind (three 4s; three 5s or three 6s).
  • Sum: The most common form of betting on a Sic Bo board is the ‘sum’ bet whereby a player bets on the total of the three dice being a specific number from 4 – 17. The payout for this type of bet is as follows:

  • Dice Total Payout
    4 50:1
    5 30:1
    6 18:1
    7 12:1
    8 8:1
    9 6:1
    10 6:1
    11 6:1
    12 6:1
    13 8:1
    14 12:1
    15 18:1
    16 30:1
    17 50:1
  • Duo: In this form of bet, a player wagers on two different numbers which will appear on at least two out of the three dice. This bet pays 5:1 and includes the following combinations: 1,2; 1,3; 1,4; 1,5; 1,6; 2,3; 2,4; 2,5; 2,6; 3,4; 3,5; 3,6; 4,5; 4,6 or 5,6. Basically any two number combination that is not the same.

Non-Recommended Sic Bo Bets

Players should avoid betting that a specific triplet combination will be rolled. The ‘three of a kind’ Sic Bo bet is one of the worst on the table. While you may be paid 150:1; the chances of getting this type of throw are 215:1. The house therefore has a mammoth 30% advantage over the player!

‘Any three of a kind’ bets are also not recommended. A player will be paid 24:1 but the true odds are 35:1. Again, the player is faced with a 30.5% house advantage.

Betting on a pair of any particular number will pay out 8:1 but the house’s advantage is 33.3%.

Sic Bo Tips

  • Sic Bo is essentially a game of chance and therefore a player should stick with the bets that offer the bets odds. The ‘small’ and ‘big’ bets are the ones that may offer the lowest payouts but are the safest bets.
  • A player should learn and understand as much as possible about the game before starting to play. A basic understanding of the rules is essential, such as the fact that a specific ‘three of a kind’ will override a win on a specific number. The odds of each bet should be studied in order to make the best bets which suit a player’s pocket.
  • A player should set up a bankroll that is realistic and in accordance with their ability to win and lose. A smart player will not bet money that is not his, nor will he bet money that is needed for essential household bills. A player should always only play what he can afford to lose and this rule applies to high rollers and beginners, on every casino game.
  • Take advantage of the free games available online. Most online casinos will offer endless play hours for free and a player should use these games to the maximum. The Sic Bo betting board can be slightly confusing so players should practice placing bets when they are not playing for real money in order to get fully in tune with the game.
  • A player should remember to have fun while playing and not to be stressed. No matter how small or big the loss is, stressing about it does not help. If a player has managed his bankroll correctly, then there should be no reason to stress. When players are under pressure they make irrational and irresponsible bets, and can result in unpleasant Sic Bo betting results.
  • If a player finds that he is on a losing streak, he should not lose faith, because many great gamblers have said that a losing streak precedes a winning streak.
  • The tables and charts which are located above a Sic Bo table are a good source of information about the winning probabilities. However, these are not guaranteed numbers and a player should understand that this a game of pure luck and nothing else can really determine the outcome of the throw.


Sic Bo is an exciting game of chance, played mostly in Asian casinos or in Asian sections of land casinos. If played correctly with the correct self-instated limits, Sic Bo can be quite lucrative. A player should know which bets are the safest, but on the other hand should understand that players will never win big unless they take a big risk once in a while.

Since the birth of the online casino industry, Sic Bo has left the walls of the ‘Asian’ sectors of the casino and is now available to anyone and everyone who wishes to partake in this great game. The game is simple to learn, easy to play and an exciting alternative to regular casino card games. Have a go!

Posted by CCJ Team