How to Win Sic Bo (Tai Sai Strategy Tips)
So you want to know how to win at Sic Bo?
I wish you luck. My approach to writing about any casino game is to look at the actual game conditions and probabilities to determine if any kind of strategy will actually work. In most cases, the best strategy you can use just reduces the house edge. It’s rare that you can eliminate it.
Sic Bo (or Tai Sai) is a game where you cannot eliminate the house edge.
Sic Bo is a casino game played with 3 dice, and if you played Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGs, you probably have some familiarity with the most common outcomes when you roll 3 dice already. After all, rolling 3 dice is how you determine your attribute scores in most versions of the game.
It doesn’t take long to realize that 10 and 11 are the most likely numbers to come up, and the other totals work on a kind of bell curve. A total of 3 or a total of 18 is the least likely total to come up with.
This knowledge can and should inform your thinking about Sic Bo.
I should point out, too, that Sic Bo isn’t as popular in American casinos as it was 20 year ago. It’s more commonly found in online casinos.
Finally, I’d like to say a little something about some of the other pages I’ve read on the internet that offered so called “Sic Bo strategy” advice. A lot of them are REALLY bad.
I found a page on the subject that claimed that there are tips you can follow to “sway the outcome” of those 3 little dice.
That is absolutely untrue. You’re not even allowed to touch the dice at the Sic Bo table. I’m skeptical of the people who claim that you can influence the outcome of 2 dice in craps, but if you believe that someone can affect the outcome on a roll of 3 dice without even touching the dice, well… this might not be the blog for you.
I also saw advice that said you can get the most out of your game-play by “paying close attention to your decisions and using discipline and caution.” From a certain point of view, this is true. You need to choose the bets with the lowest house edge consistently.
But that’s not something that requires tremendous insight or discipline.
And it doesn’t mean you’re going to win. It just means you’re going to lose your money more slowly.
Finally, you’re not going to become a “supreme master” at this game. That’s just poppycock. (I actually saw that phrase on another site.)
Can You Play Offense and Defense in a Game Like Sic Bo?
Apparently, the kinds of bets you can make in Sic Bo can be offensive or defensive, at least according to the page that I found about Sic Bo strategy. (Since “Sic Bo” and “Tai Sai” are the same game, I’m going to use the different names interchangeably in this post.)
The next contention I saw is that when you choose the defensive bets, your patience will pay “more than anything.” Their suggestion is that the most defensive bet you can place is to bet on Big or Small.
The house edge for either of those bets is 2.78%, which is the lowest house edge of any of the Sic Bo bets.
Choosing this bet, though, is not a strategy for winning.
It’s a strategy for losing more slowly.
Also, the longer you play, the more likely it is that your actual results will resemble the mathematically (or statistically) predicted results. And when the house has an edge, this means that the longer you play, the more likely it is you’ll walk away as a net loser.
I’m not sure why the other writer considers this kind of bet more “defensive” than the other bets at the table. I guess it’s because the payout is lower, so you’re going to see a smaller payoff when you win this bet.
You’ll also lose this bet less often. It’s similar to the even money bets in roulette, in fact.
Here’s a recap of what a “small bet” and what a “big bet” is in Sic Bo:
- A small bet wins when the total of the 3 dice is any number between 4 and 10. This bet wins 48.61% of the time.
- A big bet wins when the total of the 3 dice is any numbers between 11 and 17. This bet also wins 48.61% of the time.
These bets both pay off at even money. In other words, if you bet $100 on big and the dice total 9, you win $100. If the dice total 12, you lose $100.
The other bets on the Sic Bo or Tai Sai table offer higher payouts, but they’re also less likely to win. For example, you can bet on a specific total and win a multiple of your bet.
The problem with these more speculative bets is twofold:
- You’re less likely to win.
- The house edge is higher.
Can Combination Bets Get You and Edge in Sic Bo?
I’ve seen the claim that if you place a specific combination bet on 2 numbers, you can get an edge of 2.77%. The write of that piece goes on to say that this doesn’t look like much.
He’s wrong on both counts. You can’t get an edge at Sic Bo, no matter what combination of bets you place.
And 2.77% is a huge edge over the casino. Anyone who knows anything about the house edge in casino games or knows anything about advantage gambling knows that 2.77% is unheard of. The best card counters usually only see an edge of between 1% and 2%, and usually on the lower end of that scale.
This is just flat-out bad advice, and it’s poorly written, too, because they don’t even explain which combination bet you should be making to get that mythical advantage.
Are There Beginner and Expert Strategies for Sic Bo?
The author of that other page claims that these 2 strategies are aimed at beginners. I would argue that with this game, there are no advanced strategies. You just choose the bet with the lowest house edge and hope for the best.
I’m not sure how either of these strategies would “limit” your “financial losses.” The only thing that will limit your financial losses is to refrain from betting on negative expectation games. Any time you quit playing a negative expectation game, you start limiting your losses.
I also saw claims that Sic Bo is a great introduction to casino games because you don’t have to risk much money playing. This is true of any casino game with similar minimum betting limits. In fact, most beginners would be far better off playing blackjack or mini-baccarat.
The writer also claims that practice makes perfect. This is not a game of skill, folks. There’s no such thing as “practicing” Sic Bo. You’re either playing or you’re not.
I’ll have more to say about the so-called advanced Sic Bo strategies next.
Can a “Balanced” Sic Bo Strategy Make You a Winner?
The idea behind the “balanced” Sic Bo strategy is that you’re going to place a bet on a single total, then you’re also going to bet on 3 double bets.
Betting on a total of 9 or 12 has the lowest house edge—7.4%. That’s a huge house edge compared to the house edge on a big or small bet, by the way.
Betting on the doubles also has a high house edge—18.5%. That’s an even bigger house edge.
When you’re making multiple bets on a casino game, remember this:
A bet on any casino game where the house has a mathematical edge is like a negative number.
No matter what you do, you can’t add together negative numbers and come up with a positive number.
The idea is that if you win with a 9 or with a 12, you’ll get a 7 to 1 payout. If you win one of the doubles bets, you’ll get a 10 to 1 payout.
But if you get any other outcome, you’ll lose all your bets.
The idea with the double bet is to hedge your bet. If you roll a total of 9 and the total of 9 includes doubles (like a 2, 2, 5 result), the 9 bet doesn’t pay off, but the double bet does.
You’re supposed to bet 3 units on the 9 (or on the 12), and you bet 2 units on the doubles.
This isn’t a terrible way to bet, but it doesn’t give you any kind of advantage over the casino. In fact, compared to most casino games, the house edge is atrociously high. In fact, compared to the big or small bets in Sic Bo, the house edge is ridiculously high.
Okay, I take it back.
This is a terrible way to bet.
Does a High Roller Sic Bo Strategy Hold Any Hope for Victory, Either?
The last “strategy” on the page I read is supposed to be for “experienced players who want that little bit more.” The idea of this tactic is to try to win more than one bet on a single decision.
You bet on a total of 8 or on a total of 13, and then you look for 3 ways to win on the same roll of the dice.
For example, you could bet on 8, but you’d also bet on double 1, 2, or 3.
You’re supposed to bet 3 units on 8 and 2 units on each of the possible doubles.
You could do the same thing with a total of 13. Bet on the 13, and then bet on the double 4, 5, and 6.
You’ll also notice that you can’t bet on the double 4, 5, or 6 along with the 8 and still win. If 2 of the dice have a 4, you’ll get a total higher than 8. Same thing applies to betting on the 13. It’s impossible to get a total of 13 if you get double 1, 2, or 3 as part of your results.
This can be a fun way to bet, especially if you hit, but keep in mind that the house edge on these bets is absurdly high—12.5% when you bet on a total of 8 or on a total of 13.
The house edge on the doubles bets is high, too—18.5%.
I only have this to say about the “high roller strategy” for Sic Bo:
Any strategy that has you making multiple bets that are 5X as high as the house edge for a those other bet on the table isn’t a strategy. It’s just a way to give your money away faster.
You might as well play keno as follow this so-called high roller strategy.
If you enjoy betting long shots, this might be okay, but I think you’re better off playing roulette and betting on single numbers there. You’ll only face a house edge of 5.26% on those bets, and you’ll get a payout of 35 to 1 if you hit.
The payouts for the Sic Bo or Tai Sai bets in this high roller strategy are only 8 to 1 and 10 to 1, so it’s not like you’re getting a shot at a huge payout, either. You’re just facing lousy odds.
Is Sic Bo REALLY Unique Among Casino Games?
The other page on strategy I read says that Sic Bo strategy is “somewhat unique.”
Something is either unique, or it isn’t.
There aren’t degrees of uniqueness. It’s an absolute. This is like saying your wife is “somewhat pregnant.”
This uniqueness is supposed to stem from the game’s ability to offer something no matter what walk of casino life you’re from.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but Sic Bo is unique in being the only game in the casino that uses 3 dice, maybe.
But you can find plenty of other games catering to low rollers or high rollers. You can find plenty of games that appeal to players who like fast-paced games. And there’s no shortage of games that are entirely random and have no skill element.
The page also guarantees that once you’ve tried online Sic Bo, you’ll never want to play anything else on the web.
I can’t imagine that anyone put any thought into this post on Sic Bo strategy. I’m amazed at how well the page ranks in the search engine results for the phrase, in fact. The advice is awful, and the page isn’t even well-written.
Do Any Other Strategies Have Any Validity? What About the Martingale System?
I’m surprised that the post I read didn’t mention the Martingale System. This is a betting system that can be used on any game where you get an even money payout and have a close to 50% probability of winning. This means it’s perfect for the big or small bet in Sic Bo.
Here’s how the Martingale System works:
You bet a single unit. If you win, you set that unit in a separate stack for your winnings.
But if you lose, you bet 2 units on your next bet. If you win that bet, you’ve won back the bet you lost previously, AND you have a profit of 1 unit.
But if you lose twice in a row, you have to double your bet twice in a row, too. Now you’re betting 4 units.
In fact, after every loss, you double the size of the next bet. This doesn’t sound like it’s too bad, but doubling up leads to big bet sizes faster than you could ever imagine.
Here’s a progression that started with a $5 bet:
As you can see, after 7 losses in a row, you must wager $640 to make your next bet. Most Sic Bo tables have a maximum bet, so the system breaks because of the betting limits at the table.
Proponents of the Martingale System point out that you’re unlikely to have 7 losses in a row, and they’re right. It is unlikely.
But it’s not impossible.
In fact, it’s almost a certainty. It probably happens once a day.
If you grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, you can probably remember the obnoxious guy who managed to roll a 13 or higher for every attribute.
If those were Sic Bo rolls, that player would have lost his bet 6 times in a row if he’d bet small.
I read a great post from Michael Bluejay once where he explained why the Martingale System can work great in the short term, but it almost guarantees that you’ll only have a short, small winning session. You won’t win a lot of money with this system.
Eventually, though, you’ll run into a big losing streak. And the bets will be so large during that losing streak that they will wipe out all the wins from your previous sessions.
The house edge is something you can only beat in the short term. If you play a game like this long enough, you’ll eventually lose all your money.
That’s just how it works.
The best way to win Sic Bo is to change your attitude about what winning at a casino game means—at least a casino game that’s entirely random and has no skill element.
The odds are that you’re going to lose. If you can learn to do so with equanimity, you’re a winner in my book.
If you are going to try a strategy, skip some of the nonsense you’ll find on certain other sites. Some of these posts look like they were written by 8th graders, only they make less sense.
I like the Martingale, and the probability of winning the even money bets in Sic Bo are actually slightly better than they are at the standard American roulette wheel. That’s not a winning strategy, either, but it can fun in the short term.
Other than that—don’t gamble on Sic Bo with money you can’t afford to lose. Gambling should be seen as an entertainment expense.
Also, don’t be discouraged. People win at Sic Bo every day. That’s how gambling works. If the casinos didn’t sometimes send people home with some winnings, they wouldn’t be able to stay in business.