Baccarat: The Known Card

Though the game of baccarat appears quite safe to the untrained eye, there are many ways that APs attack baccarat. Some of these methods are targets of opportunity, for example dealers who expose the first card of the next round. Others occur because of perks for high rollers, like dead-chip or loss-rebate programs. There are APs who negotiate specific rule changes that allow methods like edge-sorting. Some APs take advantage of long-standing procedural flaws, like the ribbon spread.  And then there are all the other ways, whatever they are. This post concerns the “known card.”

If the AP knows one of the next six cards in the shoe, then he can gain an easy edge over the house by wagering on the side, player or banker, that the card favors. The results in this post assume the standard dealing procedure is used that deals cards 1 and 3 to the player side and cards 2 and 4 to the banker side.

The edges obtainable from a known card are as follows:

  • Knowledge of card 1 or 3 (player first card): 6.765%
  • Knowledge of card 2 or 4 (banker first card): 6.406%
  • Knowledge of card 5: 8.973%
  • Knowledge of card 6: 9.098%

It may turn out that the dealer exposes a card before the hand is dealt. It may be that sort of incidental mark (e.g. edge sorting) on the first card allows its value to be known in advance. By knowing card 1, the AP will have a 6.765% average edge on the next hand.  But there is another way the AP can know a card: if the dealing procedure exposes the bottom card of the shoe during the cut card placement in a way that allows the AP to follow the exposed card through the shoe.

One procedure that can lead to an exposed card is known as the “ribbon spread.” Bill Zender explains the ribbon spread as follows (see this article in Casino-ology):

“The dealer will remove approximately 20 to 25 cards from the front of the eight decks following the cut. The dealer will spread the card face down on the layout, and starting from the dealer’s left count each card. Once the dealer locates the 14-th card, he/she places the plastic cut card between the 14-th and 15-th. The entire spread of card are picked up in order and placed behind the eight decks.”

If the dealer exposes the bottom card after the 20-to-25 cards are temporarily removed, and the AP gets an exact count of the number of cards removed, then the exposed card can later be located. The AP simply counts the number of cards used in the shoe and waits until his card comes into the six-card window for the next round. Using this method, the average edge the AP will have when the known card is one of the next six cards is 7.402%.

It may take over an hour of waiting for that card to come out, but the potential edge is worth it. A table maximum wager when the known card is due will yield a hefty profit.

The following table gives the edge, by known card:

The following table gives basic “known card” strategy for baccarat:

Note that there are four situations when the AP cannot gain an edge: (card = 5, position = 2 or 4), (card = 8, position = 5), (card = 2, position = 6).

The following table gives the AP’s edge for each possible situation:

Game protection for this issue is easy enough. Don’t use the ribbon spread. Instead, place the cut card at about one-half deck (26 cards). This will completely solve the problem.

APs will continue to look for opportunities to beat baccarat. But with a little care, the problem of the “known card” will not be one of them.

7 responses to “Baccarat: The Known Card

  1. This is what I thought, having been use to what you describe in other territories. However Genting in the UK, would say, “it’s our mistake, advantage to the customer”. After the debacle I experienced, losing 9-8, the next time it happened, I let the female dealer pull the entire hand (6 cards), before demanding the cards where pulled back. It took 30 mins of arguing with the pit managers, that this was there standard house rules and I’d been burnt less than 2 months earlier.

    After reviewing their procedures, they finally relented, so I bet the table max. Since then, they have seen sense and any exposed card results in a void cue.

    It was an easy exploit when playing solo, you simply get into a rhythm of betting (easy when playing mechanical) against a bored looking dealer, then you simply pause, then they don’t and continue pulling the cards, then you say, “hey, there is no-bet on the table”. More fool them for their own sloppy rules.

  2. I suppose the opposite is also true, a low value card exposed, so you bet Bank. However in the real world how are you really going to react? Say for example you are betting $25 units and you peek the next card to be drawn, say it is a 2. No doubt you are going to bet Bank next, however will you still bet $25 or will you increase that because the next card due was exposed for some reason?
    So you recall the mathematical advantage and bet accordingly, next card to the Player is a 7. Once this happens a few times, you will tend to ignore card exposures, chiefly due to the fact they don’t happen often enough to off-set those moments when they back-fire.

    Enjoying reading your site BTW.

    • If the first card to be played is 6,7,8,9, you bet the Player hand. If it is 0,1,2,3,4,5, you bet Banker. Your edge over the house with this strategy is 6.7%. Math is the real world.

      • I just don’t understand one situation: if for example 6,7,8,9 cards are gone, and you have left only 0,1,2,3,4,5 then of course that the first card will be 0,1,2,3,4,5 all the time, but according with simulations, Player has the edge not Banker, why ?

  3. I’ve been at the Baccarat tables on numerous occasions where the dealer has mistakenly drawn an extra card. As it is regarded as the casino’s mistake, they will place the card under the shoe and it will be drawn next, so in effect you know the value of the first card to the Player. I can also categorically state that in these rare scenarios. there is no discernible advantage to be gained. So what you peeked an 8 or 9, I’ve seen that, for the second card to the Player to be a 2 or 3.

    I had a situation many years ago, were I was the only player at the table and 3 cards were drawn with no bet on the table. The 3 cards drawn had the Player sitting on a NATURAL 8 and the Banker had a 6 showing. So accordingly to the house rules, I insisted the cards be returned to the shoe and subsequently increased my bet 40 fold, the 4th card drawn to the Banker was a 3. I felt gutted, because without that dealer mistake I would have never had gone anywhere near that bet amount.

    I did however gain my revenge a few months later, I simply waited for the entire hand to be dealt (again no bet on the felt), they have since changed their silly “it is our mistake” house rules.

    • If you know that the first card to be dealt to the Player side is an 8 or 9, then you have a huge edge by wagering on Player. Knowing the first card is an 8 gives the player a 17.294% edge over the house. Knowing the first card is a 9 gives the player a 21.528% edge over the house. See my post on hole-carding baccarat.

    • Maybe rulings are different in Vegas, but in every California card room/casino I’ve been in. In baccarat when a card is exposed, or even pulled from the shoe by accident, the next hand is a free hand, meaning no one can place a bet.
      Any casino that would let players bet after seeing a card is ran by idiots.

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