The question of card counting comes up from time to time and there is always a debate around it. This technique is mostly employed in blackjack, but some players try it with baccarat as well. The main premise of baccarat card counting is predicting how many cards are left in play and which cards they may be. In reality, it’s much more complex than this explanation.
If you’re familiar with the basics of card counting, you may find the baccarat methodology here to be a little different from what you’ve heard before. Now let’s get into the details.
How the Basic Counting System Works
Before we go into specifics of this system, let’s clarify — can you count cards in baccarat? This maneuver is frowned upon by most land-based casinos. But in the case of online gambling, card counting absolutely fine to use. In fact, online live dealer casinos have become the perfect platform for it.
Now that we’ve established that card counting isn’t prohibited, let’s look at the general rules of this system. Keep in mind that these instructions are meant for a six- or eight-deck game:
- When the game begins, and you start with a fresh shoe, the count is 0.
- Each card dealt to you affects the count based on its true value (given below).
- While you keep the running count in your head, you need to calculate the true count.
- Divide the current count by the approximate number of decks left in the shoe. For example, with a count of 30 and 6 decks, it will be 30/6=5.
- Once the true count exceeds 15, and the game has 6 or more decks, switch from the banker bet to the player bet.
For a single-deck game, the true count needs to be higher than 11 instead. With every new deck or shoe, you’ll need to start over.
Essentially, that is the basis of all your calculations. You also need the baccarat card counting values, which you can memorize from the table below.
Training to Count Cards in Baccarat
For example, if the count is 10 and a 3 is dealt, you’ll add 1 for a new count of 12. If the next card is a 9, the count stays the same.
As you can guess, the hardest part of the baccarat card counting strategy is to do it quickly. It’s not going to be easy, but if you’re dedicated, you’ll see improvements.
Before you play baccarat online with a live dealer, get yourself a regular 52-card deck, and do the following:
- Deal one card at a time to yourself and make the baccarat true count calculations we described above. You can take as much time as you need.
- Go through the entire deck while maintaining your calculations.
- By the end, the true count should be 0. If it’s not, your calculations were off.
- Start over and slowly speed up as you go.
- Once you can accurately calculate the true count throughout the entire shoe under a minute, start dealing two cards at a time.
- You should be able to keep up with the true count in one and a half minutes, which is approximately how long it takes a real dealer.
Why Baccarat Card Counting Is So Difficult
Casinos know that gamblers will take any opportunity to maximize their returns. Therefore, they make it harder for the players to beat them. Additionally, even after you learn how to count cards in baccarat flawlessly, you’ll still be faced with a couple of issues.
In blackjack, you can use simplified systems assigning cards values of +1 or -1. Even more advanced systems assign only a few values. This mitigates some difficulties in calculations. In baccarat, however, you’ll be dealing with three- or four-digit numbers and keeping them in your head at all times.
Is Baccarat Card Counting Worth the Effort?
So, does card counting work in baccarat? Under perfect conditions, and if you follow the rules precisely, yes. The good news is that it can actually help you get an edge against the casino in theory.
The bad news is that it might not make as much of a difference as you hope. In a book called ‘The Theory of Blackjack,’ Peter Griffin has calculated how much you can profit after going through the entire shoe. Unfortunately, it’s not as much money to justify the time and effort you need to put in.
In reality, card counting in baccarat doesn’t work like in blackjack. For the small return you get, you’ll need to play for hours. You’d need to wait hundreds of hands before finally betting on a favorable opportunity. What you should do instead is casually count until you reach +16 for the player, or less than +16 for the banker, and make your move.
It makes sense that players want to reduce the house edge. If you’re very determined to learn how to beat baccarat by card counting, you may see some results. A slight increase in chance can tip the balance in your favor. That said, you shouldn’t expect huge profits by just relying on this technique.
In any case, finding and using different techniques is better than purely trusting your luck. There is no harm in testing a new method, especially if you do it properly.
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Does Card Counting Work in Baccarat?