Baccarat Advantage play in baccarat


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In 1996-1997, Surveillance Technology of Perth, Australia, a company specializing in surveillance tools and detection aids for the industry, alerted the industry to the threat posed by advantage players.

The following excerpts, which caused quite a stir, were taken from their promotional material. !

Baccarat cannot be beaten significantly without theusedfcomputersi Advantages cdri be gained by menial techniques, but the return^^^^wb justify the effort and requiresEasily /detected end play...

- the approach to baccarat is many times more-complied^ blackjackifMost approaches

v r require enormous processing power and the peiformmultiplejhigh-speedsubset simulations:^ ^oThe computers,and)pr6grams designedfor, baccdraiareiruly.a credit to their developers:: That these devices have been in usefor at leasifi^^yedrs arid,have returned millionf of dollars without a hint'fA . of suspicion is «!so;fl:cre^

The documentation also* referred to the battles, with professional blackjack players, and then further added:

... bad as . it is, it pales game of baccarat. Concealable /

l computers are giving their operators veryisighificant advantages. This fact along with much larger .

;-r stakes and virtually no heatimakefmfcarat%eprimetargeiforprofessiohaUh'f^

Surveillance Technology is makirig, an: obvious^ shuffle tracking :and not card counting, otherwise we would have to abandon the works of the foremost mathematicians and theorists alive. So, is it possible to shuffle track in| baccarat? 1


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Shuffle Tracking

Excluding location techniques where one or more cards may be peeked during the shuffle of cut, there are essentially two shuffle tracking strategies, slug tracking and sequence tracking. Since card counting has proven to be ineffective, we can safely assert the futility of slug tracking. How about sequential tracking?


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Like the ace in blackjack, the nine is the money card in baccarat. When the top card iprhine, betting the player produces an edge of about 2V^5%.>’

For a player to track nines profitably, his accuracy must be exceptional. These strategies generally don't predict when the top card is a nine with 100% accuracy, so the player is usually dealing with a range of possibilities. Can the nine be predicted to be one of the top two cards? One of the top three v cards? 'Four, five, or six? :' ■

If the player knew that a nine was one of the top two cards, the hand is essentially a wash, since 50% of the time the player realizes a big edge, and 50% of the time he's up against a big edge. The same is true when a nine is predicted to be one of the top four cards. A nine among the top five pr;siX cards is no bargain either.

The only time an advantage is realized; other than knowing when a nine isfomtop, is when the player knows that a nine is specifically one of the top three cards with a high probability. Now an advantage exists due to the asymmetry of the distribution. In two hands out of three, theplayer will ^have a significantiadvantage.

But there's another factor. The advantage derived from sequence tracking depends on the distribution and the corresponding probabilities predicted for each position. Sequence tracking tends to produce distributions along the liheS of a bell-shaped curve. If you knew that a nine was close to the top, the probabilities might be l‘5%/25%^25%,^5^10%; 5%/3%,-ahd 2%; when spread ofmoveri the top eight cards. Any edge evaporates quickly when the target card can fall in many different positions. Distribution probabilities, however, can change everything. If a nine is one of the topSwb' cards, each with a 50% chance, there is no advantage. But if the nine had a 70% chance of hitting first, and a 30% chance of hitting second; the player, would have an edge. Descending distributions,-not spread out over too many cards, camproduce player advantages.,'

Either way, this level dffpredictability is only, possible under certain conditions, and the best conditions imaginable are shuffling procedures (with a single riffle. Were talking aboutipr^edures where each card is riffled only once! Were also\tallting about no preshuffle wash; no stripping,|and no other notable countermeasues. Its just speculation on my part, but Surveillance Technology appears to be hinting about isolated jurisdictions around the world where the single riffle may be: prevalent in baccarat. If I'm on track here, then I would have to agree; advantages may be derived by tracking nines, and possibly eights and sevens.


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Two Sequences

The concept of locking into two sequences was described in the shuffle tracking chapter under .sequential tracking. It was stated that no greater advantage exists for the shuffle tracker than playing; against the single riff with sophisticated equipment, and baccarat is no exception. In fafct/it ipnore vulnerable! Only one player reaps the benefits in blackjack when an ace is'>predicted to hit, yet an


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entire table of baccarat players could benefit if it was known that a nine was more likely to end up on the player side, for example.

If a shufHe is exploitable to the extent that the player can electronically identify two sequences that will be riffled together only one time, the game is in big trouble* With this much information, any computer could zip through all the possible hands in just a fraction of a second; spitting out optimal play. This game would offer an incredibly lucrative opportunity with advantages greater than most gamers would ever deem possible.

In the end, the single riff is exceedingly rare. When it does surface, it never lasts. I've seen it in some experimental shuffles, some one-pass dilution shuffles where only the first two grabs were riffled once, and, believe it or not, in more than one mechanical shuffling machine. The loophole may be more likely inftiyefseas jurisdictions, but that's just speculation on my part. With so many gambling jurisdictions around the world, and so many different procedures and management philosophies, it's even money that single riffs are unknowingly being employed somewhere to mix the cards in some casino game.

Back Card Steering

First tipped in Baccarat for the.Cluelessf John May, 1998), this technique has actually been grinding out money for almost twenty years. The play targets the traditional procedure of ribbon spreading a back packet after the shuffle for the exact placement of the cutcard, typically fourteen to sixteen cards from the back.

As this procedure takes place, the player^punts the^ number of cards in the ribbon spread, starting from the top to the cutcard. ^heiaeale^counts a preset number, also known by the player, from the bottom of the spread to th^utcard^tThe total number of cards in,the ribbon spread are those counted by the player plus those counted and/cut; by the dealer.

During the spread, the left hand typically holds all'the remaining decks as the right hand cuts off a small packet for the* spread and the cutcard insertion.. As this happens, the bottom card of the remaining decks is often exposed. With knowledge of the exact number of cards in the ribbon spread, say twenty-four, and knowledge of the exposed back card, say the queen of clubs, the exact position of the queen is now known. |It|lays exactly twenty-five cards from the bottom of the shoe, or 392 from the top (416 - 24).

With this information, the exact position of one card, the total number of cards played would need to be counted. When the position becomes predictable, the players bet accordingly.

To exploit this angle, one needs the advantages derived from knowledge of any card in any position. Since there is no control over the exact position of the back card, the back card can land in any one of six positions. For example, if you knew that the queen of clubs was fifth down from the top, which side would you bet? You would bet banker, and enjoy a 13,% edge, because if the player draws, he can't improve his hand.


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Baccarat for the Clueless was the first printed source to provide these positional advantages for any card, although they were worked out by the pros two decades ago.

The top card advantages'are important in many applications, So to give you a sense of what this information is worth, the advantages are provided below, followed by the advantages derived from knowledge of the fifth or sixth card. A top card analysis first appeared in The Effect of Marked Cards in a Baccarat Gdrrie (George Joseph; 1986); arid later in a few books and industry publications.


There is no card that significantly changes the probability of a tie, normally occurring about 9.5% of the time. With a ten on top, the probability drops to about 9% (which is counterintuitive)! arid up to almost 11% when the top card is a six or seven. These changes represent the biggest swing’ in advantage and neither is enough to overcome the hefty l4^|4%'Casino edge on tie bets.

These advantages are the same with knowledge of the third card, and change little for the opposite side when die card is in the second or fourth position. The eight and nine cause the biggest change in advantage; when the second or fourth card is an eight or nine, the banker's edge is 16.4% and 20.6% respectively.


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Other Methods

Other methods may include the possibility of peeking one or more cards from high riffles, or spotting cards or sequences during the squaring action after the wash, to be exploited against lopsided riffles. Most of the advantage techniques I have come across are offbeat in nature, having more application in European casinos due to odd varieties of shuffling, cutting, verification, and ribbon spreading procedures.

Most advantage techniques in baccarat will identify the exact position of one card (rarely two) indicating one favorable bet per shoe. It can be a tough grind, but with decent limits there is an earn.


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Any game in which the players are able to influence the cards gives opportunity for advantage play or cheating. Some casinos are very strict and some are very lapse in procedures. Knowing a dealer an go a long way to making play really easy but you need to work together in a way that cant be tracked. I'm interested to potentially work with dealers :)