Back

Summary

The popular casino card game Baccarat, involves betting on a banker, player or a tie. When playing Baccarat the house holds the mathematical advantage and although traditionally associated with blackjack, card counting can be applied to Baccarat to gain an edge. The house advantage, a mathematical edge held by the casino, varies for different bets in baccarat.

There are a variety of card counting methods one of which includes the Ed Thorp's system, where values are assigned based on player or banker bets. Another method by John May suggests tying card counting to the tie bet. Simply put, card counting is the skill of understanding the impact of removing a card from the deck and the probability of anticipating the next cards drawn.

While card counting provides a slight advantage, the cons include minimal winnings for significant effort. Though not illegal, physical casinos may ban players employing card counting techniques, emphasizing its limited practical value in baccarat.

Baccarat Card Counting

What Is Baccarat Card Counting?

Baccarat is an extremely popular card game played at casinos across the world. It involves betting on one of three outcomes: Either the player wins, the banker wins, or it is a tie.

Each outcome will have a different probability and will therefore pay out different amounts. The player and the banker play against each other, each getting two cards. Whoever has the closest to nine then takes the round.

Over time, some players have developed ways to gain an advantage over the house, one of which is the card counting strategy. This is a technique in which players keep a total of the cards that have already appeared in the deck. It allows them to gain an edge over the house, as they can work out the probability that certain hands will appear. Primarily a technique used in blackjack, it does also offer an advantage when it is applied to baccarat.

It is worth noting that card counting is not acceptable if you visit a physical casino. Though it is not illegal unless you use a device to assist you, most casinos will look for players that card count and ban them from the premises.

How Does Card Counting Work in Baccarat?

To understand card counting, you first need to understand the house advantage. This is a mathematical edge that a casino has over the player in a game. It is an average, given as a percentage, that a player would lose over time if they played the game.

For example, if a game has a house advantage of 5% and you wager \$100 throughout an evening, on average, you will lose \$5, which is kept by the house. This ensures casinos are always turning a profit. Of course, probability also plays into this, and it is not an exact sum. You may bet and come home with much more or lose it all in one go. However, it is a good way to gauge probability.

When it comes to baccarat, the game has three bets:

• Player
• Banker
• Tie

Betting on the player has a house advantage of 1.24%. The banker bet is a better proposition, as you only have a house edge of 1.06%, though this incurs a 5% fee on the wager you make. A tie has the worst odds at around 14.%. By using card counting, you can improve this house advantage in your favour.

Card counting works by keeping a tally of which cards have been played, so you can get an idea of what remains in the shoe. From this, you can decide if probability favours the banker or player and bet accordingly. Several methods can help achieve this.

How to Count Cards in Baccarat?

There are different methods you can use to count cards. However, when starting it pays to keep it simple. You will need to find a game that has a six- or eight-deck shoe and start from the beginning. This is so you can count the fresh deck.

Each time a card gets dealt, you add or subtract it from a running total. The total you have when it is time to bet should dictate your decision. Start at zero and add the following as you progress.

5,7,8 = Subtract one from your total

6 = Subtract two from your total

10, J, Q, K = These are neutral cards. Do not add or subtract anything.

Higher totals will favour the player, so if your tally is 16 + then bet on the player's hand. If your tally is lower it favours the banker, so + 15 and below should be a bet on them.

Thorp’s Baccarat Card Counting System

Ed Thorp is the father of the card counting system. A professor of mathematics, he originally developed a simple card counting system used to predict the house advantage for blackjack and published it in his book “Beat the Dealer.” He later adapted it for use in financial markets and hedge fund techniques. However, he also published and adapted his findings for baccarat.

Thorp's system works differently from the previous one. It assigns values based on whether you are going to make a player bet or a banker.

• 1 = When two or three get dealt

• 2 = When four or five get dealt

• 1 = When six or nine gets dealt

• 2 = When seven or eight gets dealt

Do nothing if ace, 10, or face cards occur

For a banker bet, it works in reverse.

• 1 = If two, three or four get dealt

• 2 = If five gets dealt

• 1 = If six, eight or nine gets dealt

• 2 = If a seven gets dealt

Thorp himself was critical of this method. He stated you need a lot of baccarat rounds before it becomes a viable method to use in play.

John May’s Card Counting System

John May wrote the book “Baccarat for the Clueless”, which became somewhat of a bible for the game. In the first half, it taught beginners how to play, while the second half of the book contained tips and strategies. This included his card-counting method, which he believed was only worthwhile when used in conjunction with the tie bet.

His theory is that when no cards remain in the shoe, only five hands remain: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8. This doubles the odds of a tie occurring, you start with a count of 0 and + 1 for every odd card that occurs. If you reach 160, then you get an advantage of 62% and you should start to bet on the tie.

The Effect of Removing a Card

Another effective method of counting cards is knowing the impact it has when a card gets removed from the deck.

Each individual card can have a direct impact on the house edge. These values are small, so multiplying them by ten million makes them easier to understand. Positive values are good for the player, while negative ones are bad.

Once you have this, start three counts for the player, banker, and tie. Beginning at zero, you then add the points value of each card to the three counts. This total should then be divided by the ratio of cards left. This is extremely hard to keep track of for even adept mathematicians, so is best done with a baccarat card-counting device.

Pros and Cons of Using Card Counting in Baccarat

The advantage of counting cards in Baccarat is that it does offer a slight advantage. If you are placing high bets, this may be worth your while. In any game, tipping the house advantage in your favour is a step you may not want to miss.

However, the cons of card counting baccarat are that you win very little money for a lot of effort. Card counting is linked with blackjack, and even experts such as Ed Thorp have noted they are sceptical about the value of doing it in baccarat. As an example, on average, if you placed \$1000 per hand on the banker over 100 hands, you would only earn around \$0.76 per hour.

Baccarat Card Counting FAQ

Should You Count Cards in Baccarat?

The advantage of counting cards in baccarat is warmly contested. It provides a minimal advantage for little gain, and you will not be able to become a professional by doing it. Most people prefer to stick to blackjack where it gives more of an advantage and wins are potentially bigger.

However, card counting does tip the house advantage in your favour. If you enjoy playing baccarat and play regularly, card counting is a technique worth trying out. Always remember that although it tips the house edge, it is not a guaranteed win.

Does Baccarat Card Counting System Work?

Using a card counting system in baccarat can lower the house advantage, meaning you have a much better chance of winning. However, many believe the work required does not equate to the advantage it provides and is not worth it. It is also worth noting that no system is guaranteed to help you win. Instead, you can have a better method of predicting the outcome of a probability.

There are also several other card counting strategies and systems, some of which are better suited for certain players or situations.

How to Master Card Counting in Baccarat?

Card counting in baccarat involves keeping a running count total of cards that get dealt. From this total, you can then decide which bet has the most chance of occurring: The player or the banker.

Doing this requires good mathematical knowledge of addition and subtraction. You must also have a good memory, so you can remember totals and the values of cards that appear. There are baccarat card counting machines available, but these are illegal in physical casinos.

You must then choose the right method for you. Some only concentrate on betting on the tie, while others give you the player and banker advantage.

What is the difference between baccarat and blackjack card counting?

The main difference between Baccarat counting and Blackjack card counting is that card counting works better in Blackjack than in Baccarat. This is because certain cards heavily favour the player and certain cards heavily favour the dealer in Blackjack, while in Baccarat, the game is considered to be a game of independent trials. In Baccarat, card counting is generally less useful than in Blackjack.