The Sic Bo History: Exploring the Origins and Evolution

Before the Chinese invented paper or played cards about 1,900 years ago, they enjoyed using painted stones, decorated tiles, and dice. Many of these materials have survived intact to this day, with their rules remaining virtually unchanged for centuries on end. Among them is the game of Sic Bo, which was also known as Tau Sau or Dai Siu. The term Sic Bo can be directly translated as "pair of dice," indicating that the game could be played with two dice, while the original game involved throwing numbered bricks. Gradually, some improvements were made, and the bricks were replaced by three six-sided dice. What was never altered was the objective of the game: to correctly bet on the combinations of numbers the dice would yield.

The Migration of Sic Bo

When workers journeyed from China to the United States in the 19th century, they effectively bridged the gap between the two cultures, introducing a myriad of ancient traditions to the United States, including the art of gambling. Sic Bo was played in mining camps but was largely confined to the immigrant population. It wasn't until the influx of two Chinese immigration waves in the 1920s and 1940s that Sic Bo was uncovered by Western players.

Originally, Americans embraced Sic Bo as a Carnival game. They made some alterations to the prizes, which were then called "shake and try your luck." This change was due to the "cage" used to shake the dice that were thrown. In many places, the game was referred to as "Birdcage," which means "birdcage" in Portuguese. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, another variation of Sic Bo was developed when it was introduced to the army. The soldiers played the game with two dice and named it "Hazard." Later on, the three-dice version became known as "Grand Hazard."

Nonetheless, the Chinese adhered to the original version, resulting in the preservation of Sic Bo in its unchanged form. It gained immense popularity not only in gaming halls, but also in China, where it further captivated Chinese communities worldwide. The game also gained popularity in the Portuguese colony of Macau, where gambling houses had been in existence since 1867.

Since 1937, the Macau government has held a complete monopoly over the gambling industry, granting the gaming concession to a company known as Tai Heng. However, in 1960, Stanley Ho and his enterprise, STDM, secured a contract to oversee the monopoly. A decade later, Ho unveiled a casino, reminiscent of Monte Carlo, within the grand confines of Hotel Lisboa. The casino's main floor showcased the exhilarating game of Sic Bo, strategically positioned alongside the roulette and baccarat tables.

The Sic Bo explosion

The success of Ho in Macau has reached the casinos in Nevada, where some of them have started to incorporate Sic Bo into their backrooms for Chinese guests. However, the game didn't make its way to the regular gaming areas until the 90s. The economic growth in China has afforded affluent tourists the opportunity to purchase trips to Las Vegas.

The Sic Bo game became a sensation, attracting not only Chinese visitors but also non-Chinese players. New tables were gradually introduced in Mississippi around 1995. A substantial loss of money occurred at a casino due to an error in payouts, which prompted them to rectify the correct payment structure. Over the years, Sic Bo expanded its reach and gained popularity. It wasn't until 2002 that casinos in the United States and the United Kingdom were able to offer the game legally. Due to its delayed introduction, Sic Bo has only recently started gaining momentum among UK casino players.

Meanwhile, Sic Bo has remained and continues to be well-liked in Macau. In fact, it is the second most profitable game in many casinos there, surpassed only by the renowned Baccarat. Certain casinos have adjusted their payout percentages, so players should always check the house rules before placing any bets. Apart from that, Sic Bo is essentially played the same way across the four corners of the globe.

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