Sic Bo, also known as Tai Sai, Dai Siu, Big and Small, or Hi-Lo, is a game of chance that originated in China. The game’s name, Sic Bo, translates to “precious dice” in English.
The exact origins of Sic Bo are not well documented, but it’s believed to have been played in China for thousands of years. It was originally played with bricks, before later being played with dice.
The game uses three dice, and players bet on the outcome of a single roll of these dice. Betting options include the total of the three dice, high and low numbers, individual numbers, or a combination of numbers. In essence, Sic Bo can be viewed as a combination of roulette (because of the variety of bets) and craps (because of the use of dice).
With the Chinese diaspora in the 19th and 20th centuries, Sic Bo spread to other parts of the world. It was brought to America by Chinese immigrants who came to work on the transcontinental railroad in the 19th century. In the U.S., it was often played in Chinatown communities and became known as “Chinese chuck-a-luck” or “birdcage”.
However, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that Sic Bo gained wider recognition in the West. When Macau, a former Portuguese colony, became a Special Administrative Region of China and grew into one of the world’s biggest gambling destinations, many Westerners were introduced to the game.
It was also in the late 20th century when Sic Bo was legally recognized in most casinos around the world. For instance, it was introduced to the casinos of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1993 and in the UK after the Gaming Act was approved in 2005.
Today, Sic Bo is played in casinos all over the world, and also online. It remains especially popular among Asian players. Its simple rules, combined with the thrill of high-variance betting outcomes, make it a staple in many gambling establishments.