We have all heard about the not-illegal-but-frowned-upon practice of counting cards in blackjack. This involves keeping track of all cards that are revealed and removed from play in order to better guess the odds of a particular card being dealt. But have you ever wondered if it is possible to count cards in other card games? More importantly, are you curious as to whether card counting works outside of blackjack?
As it happens, baccarat is another card game in which card counting is possible and may actually give you the edge over the casino. Here’s how it works:
The Card Counter’s Edge
In baccarat, as in blackjack, the odds change as follows every time a card is removed from the pack:
- Removing a 6 creates the largest possible advantage in favour of the player.
- Removing 5s and 7s creates a lesser advantage in favour of the player.
- Removing a 4 creates an advantage in favour of the bank.
- Removing 8s, 9s and zeroes (10s) makes a tie more likely.
No easy Task
The trouble with baccarat (as opposed to blackjack) in terms of card counting is that much higher values are involved so you need to keep your mind sharp in order to keep up. In blackjack card-counting systems, each card only needs to be given a value of either +1 or-1. This is much simpler than in baccarat, where the card counter must add and subtract three- and four-digit numbers in order to keep track of the cards.
Is it worth it?
An added problem with card counting in baccarat is that this game starts with a higher house edge (0.06% on the banker and 1.24% on the player) than that of blackjack. Although this is still one of the most favourable house edges in the casino, it makes it pretty challenging to get real value out of counting cards in baccarat.
In fact, you would have to play almost 500 hands before you would see any results and these generally tend to be almost infinitesimal. So it seems that, although it is possible to count cards in baccarat, doing so doesn’t really make much of a difference.
Does the Casino Mind?
If you’re still keen on counting cards in baccarat (even if just for the fun of it), you’ll find that it is actually easier to get away with in the casino than is the case for blackjack. That’s because baccarat players are famously fastidious about counting numbers while they play.