Edge sorting it is most commonly associated with baccarat. It became famous when gambling legend Phil Ivey made over $20 million with this technique at the baccarat tables.
However, baccarat isn’t the only game that can be beaten through edge sorting. Blackjack is another game that’s susceptible to this advantage play (AP) method.
Given that you can make profits through both baccarat and blackjack, you might wonder which game is more worth targeting. This guide discusses sorting edges in both games along with which is ultimately better for making profits.
Basics of Edge Sorting
Before I get into the differences between baccarat and blackjack edge sorting, I’d like to discuss more on the process itself. If you’re already well-versed in edge sorting, you may consider skipping this section.
Flawed decks form the basis of edge sorting. Specifically, some decks feature slightly different patterns on card-backs for different values.
An ace, for example, may have full diamonds on one long edge. Meanwhile, all of the other cards will have a half-diamond pattern.
You won’t magically know which card-backs are flawed right away. Instead, you need in-depth knowledge of the situation beforehand.
Professional edge sorters purchase official decks from various casinos and look for these irregularities. By spending enough time on the matter, they can find one or more flawed decks.
Of course, spotting the irregularities is extremely difficult during play. The cards aren’t going to be right in front of you, and you don’t have all day to assess the situation.
Therefore, the cards must be aligned in a manner that allows you to sort one long edge from another. You can’t properly sort edges if random cards are being rotated 180 degrees during hand shuffles.
Otherwise, any sorting that you’ve done in previous rounds gets destroyed. You have to start over and figure out which flawed card-backs represent which card values.
To keep cards in their current orientation, you can either play at tables with automatic shuffler machines or make a pre-arranged deal with the casino.
The latter is only feasible if you’re a high roller who plays for big stakes. Therefore, you’ll have more luck as a high roller simply by playing at tables with automatic shuffling machines.
Blackjack Edge Sorting
As you may know, real money blackjack rounds begin with each player receiving two face-up cards. The dealer also receives two cards including one face-up (upcard) and one face-down (hole card).
Under normal circumstances, the only information that you have to act on includes your face-up cards and dealer’s upcard. You’re not supposed to know the hole card value until it’s flipped over.
You can possibly determine the hole card ahead of time through edge sorting. Assuming the card-backs are flawed, you could figure out the face-down card and deviate from basic strategy accordingly.
Here’s an example:
- You have a starting score of 12.
- The dealer’s upcard is 6.
- Normally, you’d stand in this situation.
- But through edge sorting, you know that the next card is an 8.
- You hit and get a score of 20.
You can see how identifying the hole card before it’s turned over can be beneficial. This process allows you to act with more information and, in turn, win more money.
The biggest advantage, though, comes when you can sort the back of the top card that’ll be dealt in the next round. When at first base (first seat to dealer’s right), you can use this info to determine the first card that you’ll be dealt.
If you figure out that the first card will be an ace or 10, you should raise your bet significantly before the round starts. By perfecting this technique, you’ll gain up to an 18% advantage in blackjack.
Baccarat Edge Sorting
The only decisions that you make in real money baccarat include whether to wager on the banker hand winning, player hand winning, or both hands tying. Therefore, you must edge sort before placing your bet to gain an advantage.
You also need to be able to see the deck’s top card that will be dealt in the next round. Additionally, you must be sitting in first base to benefit from this information. You’re basically using the second strategy mentioned in the blackjack section above.
As you may know, the winning side of a baccarat hand is the one closest to a score of 9. Any side that gets an 8 or 9 within their first two cards forms a “natural.” They win as long as the other side doesn’t hold a matching or better score.
The scoring process of baccarat makes 6, 7, 8, and 9 the most-important cards. The player side receives the first card off the top of the deck.
You can use your knowledge of the first card to bet accordingly on the player or banker side. You’re essentially trying to predict the player’s score based on the first card that you’ve edge sorted. By properly sorting edges and putting this knowledge into play, you can gain up to a 6.8% advantage.
Which Game Is Better for Sorting Edges?
Either blackjack or baccarat can provide great gains through edge sorting. They’re both more lucrative than card counting (0.5% to 1.5% advantage) under the right circumstances.
But if you’re simply looking for the biggest advantage possible, then blackjack is your game. It allows you to gain up to an 18% edge.
You must do the following to get this kind of advantage:
- Sit at first base.
- Be able to see the top card on the deck in between rounds.
- Edge sort the top card.
- Raise or lower your bet for the next round based on this info.
With blackjack, you get the added benefit of edge sorting the dealer’s hole card. Even if you’re unable to properly edge sort the top card, you can always fall back on the croupier’s face-down card.
Of course, baccarat is no slouch in the advantage gambling world either. You can enjoy up to 6.8% advantage with perfect edge sorting.
Phil Ivey used the same type of advantage to earn a massive fortune. He lost this money to a lawsuit, but he would’ve won big if not for being caught after the fact.
The downside to baccarat edge sorting, though, is that you only have one route towards profits. Given that you only make decisions before a round begins, you must be able to see the deck’s top card.
In theory, blackjack is the best game for sorting edges. But as an AP, you need to take advantage of whatever profitable situation you can find.
If you find a casino that uses an automatic shuffling machine and isn’t overly concerned about edge sorting, then you should capitalize regardless of if baccarat or blackjack is the game.
Will You Make Serious Money with Edge Sorting?
Edge sorting is one of the hardest AP methods to pull off. You not only need a trained eye to spot card flaws, but you must also find the right conditions as well.
Ever since Ivy won millions through this method, casinos have been on high alert about edge sorting. I doubt any gambling establishment will let you negotiate for the same rules that Ivey did—even if you’re a big-time high roller.
The best you can do is look for games with automatic shufflers that don’t mess up the card orientations. Any casino that’s worried about edge sorters can simply rotate one part of the deck 180 degrees to ease their worries.
Of course, you also need to know potential flaws with a deck ahead of time. You can figure out this information by buying different casino decks and searching for irregularities.
If you’re looking for an easier route towards profits, you’ll find it with card counting. The latter is simpler to execute and a lot more realistic.
Assuming you want to gain one of the biggest edges possible, then you should dive into edge sorting. This AP technique can result in big profits under ideal conditions.
Both blackjack and baccarat edge sorting are worthwhile whenever the opportunity arises. They deliver up to 18% and 6.8% advantages, respectively.
You’ll find few AP opportunities that come close to a 6.8% edge—let alone an 18% advantage! If you have the chance, though, blackjack is the more worthwhile pursuit.
You can sort both the top card of the deck and the dealer’s upcard. You stand to hold up to 18% edge with the latter.
Before any of this becomes possible, though, you must master edge sorting itself. Assuming you do this and find the right conditions, you can make a fortune off the casino.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …