While card counting is a well-known phenomenon in blackjack, few players realize that affair amount of study has been done of the subject of card counting in baccarat as well. Given that tracking numbers is already a popular pastime at baccarat tables, an effective card counting system might even be easy to use without being detected; after all, as far as the casino could tell, you’d just be doing the same superstitious number counting everyone else does.

Believe it or not, it actually is possible to gain an edge by counting cards while playing baccarat. While it might not be immediately obvious, removing cards from the deck does affect the odds of the player or banking winning future hands, so as cards are removed from the shoe, the odds are constantly shifting. For those who are curious, removing a six has the biggest effect in favor of the player bet (with fives and sevens coming out of the deck also being quite helpful), while removing a four from the deck will tilt things in the banker’s favor. While you’d normally never bet on a tie, removing eights, nines and zeroes (tens) will make a tie more likely.

Will Counting Cards In Baccarat Give You An Edge?

Sounds simple, right? As you may have expected, there are some pretty significant catches here. The effects of removing a card are very, very small. In addition, the effects of various cards aren’t neatly arranged. In blackjack, the difficulty of card counting is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you can use simplified systems that value all cards as +1 or -1 (even more complex systems use only a few values). In baccarat, to get the full value out of your card counting, you’d need to be adding and subtracting three or four digit numbers in your head constantly to keep an accurate count.

There’s also the problem that the house edge in baccarat starts out a little higher than in most blackjack games (about 1.06% on the banker bet, and 1.24% when betting on the player). It’s still a good deal compared to most casino games, but that slightly bigger edge and the very small effect each card has means you’ll rarely find a situation where your counting will give you an edge: one estimate put the frequency of advantage bets at one in every 475 hands.

Even if you were counting flawlessly with the help of a computer program that could constantly calculate the exact change in the odds, and could bet hundreds or even thousands of dollars only on those rare hands when you had an edge without the casino getting suspicious, you’d likely only make a few cents an hour. That might be fun to do just to be able to say you beat the casino at baccarat, but it should also show that realistically, baccarat isn’t a game where card counting is a winning strategy.