There has been an ongoing debate on whether or not card counting will bring you a certain edge over the house in a Baccarat game. Whatever option you choose to try and win at this game, you should never give up. In the end, you will find your winning strategy.
How to Beat Baccarat by Card Counting
I’m sure that we have all watched a Hollywood blockbuster about a bunch of MIT kids who “robbed” a Las Vegas casino by using the counting cards strategy. Their game of choice was Blackjack, and I’m sure the following thought passed through your head while watching that movie: “If they pulled it off, so can I.”
Well, my friends, let me tell you that applying card counting in Baccarat is a whole different ball game that demands your full attention and dedication.
Some Facts about the House Edge
As all Baccarat lovers already know, the game is not very complicated. You only have to decide whether to bet on the banker, the player or a tie, place your bet and wait for the outcome. You should always think about the house edge attached to each of the betting options.
Bear in mind that if you bet on the banker and they win, the house may take a 5% commission off your winnings, but the house edge will be around 1%. If you decide to bet on the player and win, the house edge will be around 1.30%. The tie option may get you an 8:1 payout, however, this bet goes with a house edge of almost 15%.
How the Card Counting System Works in General
If you decide to try out your card counting skills at Baccarat, you’ll have to start by understanding how the whole principle works.
I will take the example of counting cards in Blackjack in order to explain how the technique works in general, simply because Blackjack is the perfect game for it.
There are certain cards in Blackjack like aces and 10s or other face cards that give the advantage to the player, while small-numbered cards always go in favor of the dealer.
The principle is quite simple. The longer the aces and face cards stay in the deck of cards, the player has bigger chances of scoring a Blackjack, and they can expect to get a better card in case they double down.
On the other hand, cards of a lower value (2-6) provide an edge to the dealer because players can not hope to win many Blackjacks with small cards left in the deck. They can also expect to get useless cards when doubling down. The dealer won’t bust a stiff total that easily in this scenario. So the best case scenario for the player will be to spot a lot of low cards out of the deck, and they will mark each with +1. However, if a favorable card comes out, the player would mark it -1. Furthermore, players can be sure that they will have an advantage over the house if they keep this score positive.
Overall, this is how card counting works in a Blackjack game, but let’s see if it works for Baccarat too.
Can This Work for Baccarat?
Since Baccarat cards come out of a container called a shoe, the odds for the three betting options will vary significantly towards the game’s end. Additionally, the card counter will be able to gain an advantage over the house by estimating which cards are left in the shoe. Therefore, it would be possible to make a winning bet using the card counting strategy at the Baccarat table. However, there are mixed opinions and attitudes on this issue.
Namely, Ed Thorp, who stands behind the whole card counting technique believes that, even though there are some similarities between Blackjack and Baccarat, you can not expect to beat the house advantage only by applying card counting while playing Baccarat.
Another gambling and card counting expert, James Grosjean, revealed some reasons why card counting wouldn’t work so well in a Baccarat game. According to him:
- You can not define specific cards that can be significantly favorable neither for the dealer nor for the player.
- The advantage of the casino over the player is higher in Baccarat than in Blackjack.
- The player has no saying in the game because the drawing rules are set and the player can not turn the game into his favor.
Other experts involved in devising various gambling strategies made a card counting technique for Baccarat games. However, this system seems complex in theory and difficult to follow through in a real-time game.
First, imagine that you place a $1,000 wager every time the outcome at the table goes in your favor. This means you will earn 70 cents per shoe. In other words, don’t waste your time counting cards in Baccarat. It’s better to explore other ways to beat the house.
Using Edge Sorting to Beat the House in Baccarat
Edge sorting is a semi-legal way of winning the card game. Here you use the deck of cards with a flaw so that you can predict which card is dealt. There was an infamous scandal that involved a gambling superstar, Phil Ivey, who swept more than $20 million at a Baccarat table. Namely, he used the edge sorting method with his partner, Kelly Sun. They had a pretty cunning plan for pulling this off: Sun convinced the casino staff that he needed an interpreter. The casino fell for this, and so Sun used the opportunity to speak his mother tongue to tell the dealer to turn the cards 180 degrees because Ivey was “superstitious.”
The real reason was that he could better recognize flawed cards in the deck this way. They managed to pull this off, however, the casino people weren’t such fools after all. They busted the players and denied paying the winnings. Everything escalated quickly, with lawsuits and a huge scandal following. As you can see, not all gambling stories end happily.
In the end, I can only say that you shouldn’t give up on Baccarat. Even though card counting may not be the best way to beat the house, Baccarat is still an exciting casino classic with a low house edge, so you should definitely try playing it.