Do you know Sic Bo? While not nearly as widely played as games such as blackjack, poker, roulette and craps, Sic Bo typically has a small presence in larger casinos across the United States. In Macau, however, this ancient Chinese gambling game is much more popular, joining baccarat as the go-to favorite for Asian casino-goers. If you’ve never played Sic Bo, now is a good time to get acquainted with this classic game. Sic Bo uses three dice and a table featuring a variety of betting options based on the roll of those dice. For craps aficionados, Sic Bo will likely seem like second nature. Betting options include betting on any one number (with payouts increasing based on how many times that number appears across the three dice), odd or even (with totals based on the sum of all three dice) and unique combination bets offering odds of up to 50 to one in some casinos.

While the game may seem similar to craps, its odds aren’t always quite as favorable. Depending on your wager and the rules your particular casino adhere to, you’ll likely be looking at a house edge of at least 7.41 percent on all bets other than odd and even (which are only available in Macau), and even those feature an edge of 2.78 percent. By comparison, a bet on the pass line in craps features a house edge of just 1.41 percent. With these odds in mind, it’s no surprise that Sic Bo players spend so much of their time looking for effective strategies to better position themselves to beat the house. In this article, we’re going to take a look at a few of these strategies. Before you get your hopes up, Sic Bo is a game of chance. Developing an accurate strategy that predicts the landing spot of three dice regularly isn’t going to happen. If you hear someone claiming otherwise, they’re not being truthful. Got it? Good. Now, let’s take a look at a few strategies.

Small Big Betting

By some translations, Sic Bo simply means Small Big, and this makes sense when studying the game. The type of bet that’s most favorable to gamblers is one with relatively even chances over the long term. In Sic Bo, a Small bet pays even money when the three dice equal four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or 10. However, this wager excludes three of a kinds, which serve as a built in edge for the casino. Similarly, the Big bet pays even money when the three dice equal 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17, excluding three of a kinds. Taking all of this information into account, a small bet offers 105 chances to win out of 216 possible outcomes on each roll, giving players a 48.61 percent chance of winning in each round. Double zero roulette, by comparison, gives players a 47.37 percent chance of winning on even money bets. Single zero roulette offers 48.64 percent odds, making it comparable to Sic Bo.

At this point, you may be wondering what all of this has to do with strategies. Well, by determining that Small and Big bets in Sic Bo are roughly equivalent to even money bets in roulette, we’ve also shown that any ‘effective’ roulette strategy relying on even money bets should translate seamlessly to the Sic Bo tables. This seems like great news, until you realize the tremendous limitations of even the most popular betting systems used by roulette players. For this example, let’s examine the Martingale system.

The Martingale Betting System

Perhaps the most widely recognized betting system in existence, the Martingale betting system dates back to the 18th century, when gambling halls were first gaining popularity in Europe. The basics of the system are simple. By wagering exclusively on bets that have a near 50 percent chance of winning or losing (such as the Small and Big bets in Sic Bo), players can virtually guarantee a win by doubling their bets after every loss. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. By doubling with every loss, you’re virtually guaranteed to recoup any losses eventually, right? While this system is flawless in theory, it leaves something to be desired in reality. Bankroll limitations and max bets are the kryptonite of the Martingale system. After a couple of consecutive losses, your friendly game of Sic Bo can quickly escalate to high stakes. Depending on the size of your bankroll, you could find yourself pushing all-in in a matter of moments, making for a potentially short night at the casino.

Let’s say that you’ve got a healthy bankroll and a no limit table to play with. According to the law of statistics, there’s about a 0.1 percent chance of losing an even bet more than nine times in a row. That’s barely a chance at all, right? Well, if you implement the Martingale system for 1,000 bets, you’re statistically likely to see this outcome at least once. Assuming a beginning bet of just $10, nine straight losses would transform your wager into an enormous $5,120 on a single roll of the dice. On the other hand, if you won nine straight games, you’d rake in just $90. If you don’t see how your confidence could begin wavering regarding the efficacy of a Sic Bo strategy at this point, then by all means, give it a try. For the rest of us, progressive betting systems can be really detrimental to the casino experience.

Casinos didn’t get where they are today by leaving loopholes for players to exploit. Sic Bo is a game of chance with carefully calculated odds ensuring that the house always wins. No matter what anyone says to the contrary, an effective strategy that works within the confines of limited bankrolls and table limits simply doesn’t exist. Instead of trying to game the system, try to sit back and enjoy the atmosphere while hoping for a little favor from Lady Luck. Luck is the undisputed champion of casino success, so keep your eyes open!


Simon is an overactive gambler and the Staff Writer here at Silver Oak. He loves casino bonuses, online slots, and using the em dash too often. Currently, he rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada.