The game of sabacc has been played for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient days of the Old Republic. Sabacc tables can be found in the most expensive luxury casinos, or dangerous hole-in-the-wall establishments, and anywhere else.
Sabacc is played with a deck of 76 card-chips. Through the use of micro-circuitry in the cardchips, card values change randomly, triggered by electronic impulses sent out by the dealer.There are four suits in the deck: sabers, staves, flasks and coins. Each suit consists of eleven numbered cards (marked one to eleven) and four ranked cards: the Commander, the Mistress, the Master and the Ace (numbered 12 to 15).There are also sixteen face cards (two each of eight different cards), with special names, symbols and values. They are the Idiot (0), the Queen of Air and Darkness (-2), Endurance (-8), Balance (-11), Demise (-13), Moderation (-14), the Evil One (-15), and the Star (-17).
When a hand is dealt, the dealer pushes a button on the table which sends out a series of random electronic pulses, which shift the values of the cards. Card values can change at any time and this wild randomness has been credited with making sabacc so popular.
Through several rounds of bluffing and betting, players watch and wait for their card-chips to shift. They can lock any or all of their card-chip values by placing them in the table’s interference field (located at the center of the playing surface) — the card is “frozen” at that value.
Sabacc is played in both hands and games (a game can have many hands). The object of sabacc is to have the highest card total which is less than or equal to twenty-three. A total which is more than twenty-three, less than negative twenty-three, or equal to zero is a bomb out. Each player is dealt two card-chips to start and must always have at least two card-chips in his hand.
Sabacc has two different pots. The first pot, called the hand pot, is given to whoever wins a particular hand. The second pot is the sabacc pot, which can only be won one of two ways.
With sabacc hands, a player wins if everyone else folds or if he locks in the highest card total less than twenty-three. If two or more players tie, they participate in a sudden demise — each player is dealt one card-chip from the deck which must be added to their locked-in hand. The best hand after this deal takes the hand pot. If there is still a tie, the pot is split.
There are two ways to win the sabacc pot. The first, when a player has a total of exactly 23, is called a pure sabacc. The second is an idiot’s array, which means the player has an Idiot face card (0), and a two value card and a three value card — a literal twenty-three! At most tables, an idiot’s array beats a pure sabacc. The game is over when the sabacc pot has been won.
Some players have found a way to cheat at sabacc by using a rigged card-chip called a skifter. A skifter allows the player to change its value by tapping the corner of the card. The player waits until it produces the exact value he desires. Of course, being caught using a skifter is a good way to end up on the wrong end of a blaster …