Putting a date to the origin of the Sic Bo game is near-impossible as it evolved over the years, featuring many different, exciting incarnations. However, it’s known that from the time the legendary Karate and Tai Chi Do emerged, Sic Bo followed. Ancient Chinese history texts reveal that Sic Bo originally was one of the popular games played by ancient combat warriors during their leisure time. A variation of chess and Go, the game was originally played with a small round board called the dao, which was later developed into a larger, square board with four corners and eight sides. The player would use the corners and sides to maneuver their pieces into an opponent’s square and “capture” them. If a player lost a piece, they had to walk back across the board until they could “buy” another.
One of the most popular Sic Bo games played today is the standard version, played on a rectangular grid called a no-room (also called a double-table) in a casino or home game room. There are twenty-four possible combinations, while the casino version has only twenty-eight. The traditional Sic Bo setup comes with five players at the table, including the house. For more elaborate setups, such as those with jokers and bettors, there are additional options available to the player.
If a player doesn’t want to risk the same amount of chips that are currently present on the table, they can make “small bets” against their winnings, reducing their potential winning odds and providing them with more wagering options. Standard Sic Bo games have the lowest house edge, making them among the least expensive games to play. In no-room games, the house always wins, regardless of whether or not there are bets, thus, the house always has an upper hand.
Two dice are commonly used in Sic bo games, referred to as “bets.” They are used to represent the “actions” that occur during the betting process. In traditional Sic Bo, five dice are used, but many casinos use a single die for both players. The number one is reserved for the player with the highest bid.
House rules may allow only a single die to be used in the betting process, or may allow the player placing the highest bid to choose which die he wishes to use. Some casinos allow multiple bets on one die, but restrict them to only being placed on the first bet or second highest bet. Some also restrict the bets to being made on only the side that is raising, and to only being made on a face bet, where the house takes first place.
Most casinos use an internal scoring system in their games, using numerical scores to determine the outcomes of games. This is usually referred to as “the shaker system.” The Sic bo versions of these games tend to not use the shaker scoring system, but instead use the numbers generated by the random number generators. The result is that the actual hand and action cards are rarely, if ever, pre-rolled.
Unlike many similar ancient Chinese games, there is no printed version of the Sic Bo game. In fact, the only published version of the game I was able to find was a nineteenth-century reprint of a popular game similar to Sic Bo. The reason for this is that until the early twentieth century, it was not widely spoken or played in the United States. As a result, the rules and strategies associated with any given game would be very different depending on where you happened to play. Today, due to the widespread availability of internet gaming, online Sic Bo games have become very common.
If you are new to playing Sic Bo at home, or at a casino, it is important to understand the basics. First, it is best to stick to placing bets for the duration of the game. Second, you should learn to read the hands that are presented to you, including those that refer to the “flush” or “triple” bet. Finally, remember that in addition to standard casino games like Blackjack, Sic Bo betting options include the option to place “vegas” style bets.