Baccarat Card Counting – Why doesn’t it work and what can you do about it?

You must have heard those stories where blackjack card counting allowed a player to take huge winnings from the casino, and you have wondered if the same can be said about the other popular card game – baccarat.

The title of this article reveals the sad truth that baccarat is not a countable game in which you can gain an edge by counting cards, contrary to what many other results on Google may tell you. Let’s go through the reasons why baccarat card counting doesn’t work, which is vital for your understanding of the game.

Baccarat Card Counting Doesn’t Favor Anyone

Baccarat is a symetrical game in which Banker and Player will be getting the same cards. Rules are slightly different for Player and Banker, so this is the only chance where you could possibly benefit from knowing what cards are left in the deck. But even if you knew there are more 9s than Aces in the deck, there’s no way to put that information to good use. It’s equally likely that the Banker or Player will get any of the cards from the deck, and in baccarat you don’t get to make a decision during the game.

You place your bets before the cards are dealt, and then there’s nothing else left for you to do as you watch the game unfold, with Banker and Player taking turns in drawing cards. This is a different world to blackjack, as in blackjack you have decisions to make and these decisions can be based on what kind of cards are left in the deck. In baccarat, it simply doesn’t matter. Baccarat, for all practical purposes, is an elaborate coin toss game.

Casinos Don’t Mind You Counting Cards

Not in baccarat, at least. At many casinos you’ll even be provided with pen and paper if you want to track the results.

Also, while in blackjack it is rare to see a reshuffle after 75% of the shoe has been dealt, in baccarat, casinos don’t have a problem with you seeing 100% of the shoe. Meaning, they will shuffle the decks only when there are no cards left. If baccarat card counting worked, they wouldn’t ever let you do that, and would shuffle the decks once you see 75% of the shoe since it’s the last part that favors card counters the most. In baccarat, there’s simply no edge to be found there.

How to Count Cards in Baccarat and Win

Now, we will surprise you by saying that you can, in fact, count cards in baccarat and make a profit.

It’s just that the profit is so miniscule and the strategy is so difficult to play out that it’s just not worth your time. With a perfect baccarat card counting strategy, as described by Peter Griffin in his book The Theory of Blackjack, you’d be making a $1000 bet once every 400 hands or so, and would expect to make $0.70 per hour. It is unlikely that any casino would let you sit there for 400 hands without doing anything, and it’s unlikely you’d be going through the trouble only to make $0.70 per hour.

Also, with a small sample like that – one bet every 400 hands – and the odds ever slightly in your favor, it would still be more or less a coin-flip game and you’d be likely to lose your $1000 bet. Then you’d have to wait for 400 more hands to make another one. If you lose that one too, and the odds of both first bets being lost are almost 25%, you’re in trouble.

In essence, counting cards doesn’t change the odds too much, and there’s nothing practical you can do with the extra information.

Baccarat Card Counting System and Values

This is the system used to track cards that left the deck, and it’s more complex than in blackjack, where you only use +1 and -1.

  • Start with a count of 0
  • don’t do anything for 9, 10, J, Q, K
  • +1 when A, 2, or 3 are dealt
  • +2 when 4 is dealt
  • -1 when 5, 7, or 8 are dealt
  • -2 when 6 is dealt

So, basically, you’re only monitoring cards between A and 8 inclusive. For the first three (A, 2, 3) you add +1 to the count. 4 is a special case as it’s the only card for which you add +2, and 6 is the opposite of that as you subtract -2. The remaining cards (5, 7, 8) mean you subtract -1 from the count.

In baccarat, it is common knowledge that banker is “always” the best bet – though in our how to win baccarat article we argue differently – and this is the default bet in this card counting strategy. It’s only when your count is higher than 16, a Player bet becomes the smarter choice.

However, this just a very simplistic way to count cards in baccarat. Some mathematicians say you actually need a count of +235 for the Player bet to actually become profitable while you need a count of -200 for the Banker bet to become truly profitable. And then there’s the real world – where even a computer who’d play the perfect game according to the information it has would only be able to make less than $2 per 100 hands. On a $1000 bet.

Here is a baccarat card counting cheat sheet you can download and print out.

Baccarat card counting cheat sheet with card values

Conclusion – How to Gain an Edge

Baccarat counting doesn’t work. What does? Let’s go through the very short list of things you can do.

  • Switch to blackjack if you want to do some card counting. It works in that game, though you have to get pretty good at it. Also consider Spanish 21, a derivative of blackjack that is also suspect to card counting.
  • Play the Bonus Baccarat Zero at 5Dimes Bonus Casino on Mondays. It offers increased payouts, 1.027:1 when the Player wins and 0.9725:1 when the Banker wins. In this particular game, there’s almost no house edge. If you’re serious about wanting to make money on baccarat, you’ll play at 5Dimes Bonus Casino.


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