Yee hah hi is a traditional version of sic bo that uses picture dice, rather than the everyday numbered bones with which we are all so familiar. In English, the name translates to ‘fish shrimp crab’, after three of the six symbols used – the others being gourd, coin, and rooster. The rules and game-play are identical to standard tai sai, except for the inclusion of a few unique betting options.
This style of sic bo remains relatively popular among Asian gamblers, and constitutes around 20 per cent of the dai siu (sic bo) tables found in the brick-and-mortar casinos of Macau. However, you don’t have to go all the way to China to get in on the action, as yee hah hi is gaining a cult following in our own backyard. Read on to learn more about how to play, and where you can find the best fish shrimp crab games in Australia.
As in regular sic bo, yee hah hi uses three dice rolled simultaneously for each turn. But instead of each side showing a certain number of dots to represent its value, the faces of each die feature a picture – fish, shrimp (or prawn), gourd, coin, crab, and rooster (or chicken). Some games use slightly different icons; in Macau, for instance, the shrimp or prawn is often called a scorpion. Each image carries a numerical value, from one to six, along with a colour – red, green, or blue.
The numbers, symbols, and colours are usually arranged like so:
Fish = one, red
Prawn = two, green
Gourd = three, blue
Coin = four, blue
Crab = five, green
Rooster = six, red
The run of play in yee hah hi is pretty much the same as when playing with regular numbered dice. Players place their wagers on the betting layout, the dealer activates the dice roller, and when the results are known, the table lights up to show the winning wagers. See our comprehensive online sic bo page for a detailed run-down on how to play.
The bets, again, are much like the ones you would find in a standard game of tai sai – although the payouts vary widely depending on the gambling venue. The easiest wagers to win are big (total dice value between 11 and 17) and small (total value between four and 10), which pay 1 to 1 everywhere and carries a house edge of 2.78 per cent. Meanwhile, the most difficult bet – specific triples – can pay as high as 180 to 1, with the casino holding a mathematical advantage of anywhere between 16 and 30 per cent.
Yee hah hi offers a few more bets unavailable in other sic bo varieties. Besides wagering on which symbols will hit, and the aggregate sum of the roll, we can also put money on how many of the dice will show a certain colour.
Below are the special bets for fish shrimp crab. These are the bets and the respective odds offered at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, but most games elsewhere (online and offline) are basically the same:
Specific colour triples – All three dice show a particular colour. For example: if we bet on triple green, each die must turn up green in order for us to win. Pays 23 to 1.
Any colour triples – All three dice show the same colour. Pays 7 to 1.
Specific colour doubles – Two of the three dice show a particular colour. For example: if we bet on double red, that colour must turn up twice in order for us to win. Pays 3 to 1.
Single colours – At least one of the three dice shows a particular colour. Pays 1 to 1. (Note: Unlike a single number bet, this wager offers no bonuses for a colour hitting more than once. For example: if you bet on blue and it shows up on all three dice, you only get paid 1 to 1.)
In both China and Australia, these colour-based wagers in yee hah hi usually carry a house edge of a little over 11 per cent.
Believe it or not, Australia boasts one of the most vibrant sic bo scenes on Earth. From Sydney to Adelaide, Melbourne to Perth, Hobart to Brisbane – dai siu is not only available at every major land-based casino in the country, but the payouts are better than anywhere else in the world. The only exception is playing online at one of our recommended Aussie gambling sites, where the odds are just as good and the convenience is unparalleled.
At the time of writing, yee hah hi can be hard to find outside of Macao – both on the Internet and in b&m gaming venues. There are some versions on the Web that allow for the extra colour-oriented betting options, but these tend to use coloured dice with numbered sides, rather than the Chinese symbols. Currently, the Crown Casino in Melbourne is our best bet among Australia’s land-based casinos, along with its sister set-up in Perth (formerly the Burswood Entertainment Complex). The Crown website lists a version of yee hah hi in its section on sic bo rules, complete with a run-down of bets and a layout diagram
Real money sic bo is enjoying an enormous popularity boom all over the globe; and as China’s economic influence grows, so too will the number of cashed-up tourists heading to our sunny shores in search of top-quality gambling fare. So while fish shrimp crab may not be in vogue right now, expect to see more and more tables crop up as the demand for all varieties of tai sai skyrockets in the coming years.