Edge Sorting Explained – The Only Way to Win in Baccarat

Edge sorting

13 minutes

Last Updated: February 14, 2022


Edge Sorting Explained – The Only Way to Win in Baccarat

Unlike card counting, edge sorting isn’t a very popular form of advantage play in the gambling world. Still, it can be very effective, especially in a game like baccarat.

But, for this to be true, you need to have great edge sorting skills and be lucky enough for all of the conditions to line up exactly as you need them.

On this page, we’ll discuss what edge sorting is, how to use it, and whether or not it is even legal to resort to when playing baccarat. With that in mind, read on to learn the best information on edge sorting.

What is Edge Sorting?

Edge sorting is an advantage play in which you can exploit card imperfections to identify specific cards. This allows you to know which cards are coming up and obtain a significant edge over the casino.

Needless to say, edge sorting only works with a defective deck of cards. In other words, the cards should have noticeable patterns around their back edges so that you can track each card.

These defective cards that are suitable for edge sorting look like any regular deck of cards at first glance. But, once you focus on the back design, you can notice that the patterns are not symmetrical.

Card edging

For example, let’s say that a card manufacturer designs its cards with diamonds as the back cover. When the manufacturer cuts the cards, they can cut them to have a standard border on one side and half a diamond on the other side.

This mistake doesn’t mean anything to the vast majority of players.

Moreover, it doesn’t mean anything on its own unless you know how to sort the cards based on these edges. This is precisely where the term originates from.

Once you notice the lack of symmetry in the patterns on the back of the card, you need to sort them. You do this by rotating them by 180 degrees.

More specifically, you need to rotate one card from another to distinguish between them. In baccarat specifically, you can sort high-value cards (tens, face cards, and aces) in one direction and all other lower-value cards in the opposite direction.

That way, you know approximately what cards are on the table just by looking at their back covers.

How Edge Sorting Works in Baccarat

We’re using baccarat as an example of how edge sorting works because this game is arguably the best casino game to apply this technique at.

To be more precise, this is mainly due to baccarat’s nature, in which you would get a huge advantage if you know which cards are regular low-valued ones and which are the face cards.

To start with, you’ll have to ask the dealer to rotate the face cards in a certain direction. You can often get away with this in many casinos by saying you’re superstitious.

If the dealer isn’t aware of edge sorting, they’ll rotate your cards unquestionably whenever you ask.

Once the entire deck has been played with, all of the cards will be just in the place you want them to be. Then, when the dealer starts dealing the cards again, you’ll have a big edge over the house.

With the ability to distinguish between high and low cards, you’ll walk your way to an easy profit.

Is Edge Sorting Illegal?

With all of the above in mind, we also have to answer the crucial question – is edge sorting considered illegal in casinos?

The answer is unexpectedly no, edge sorting is not illegal. That said, it is a form of advantage play.

And, if there’s one thing casinos don’t like, that’s advantage players. So, while edge sorting is still not illegal, it is frowned upon by casinos.

Edge sorting takes up a specific place in the casino rulebook and certainly falls into a gray area. This is because casinos precisely define what cheating is.

In the casino setting, cheating includes interfering with how the game is played, either by using tools or physically touching the cards.

Since you’re not interfering with the gameplay in any way when edge sorting, you’re not technically cheating.

However, in many casinos worldwide, it’s also the best way to book yourself a one-way ticket out of the venue. So, it’s all very simple in the end.

Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll get in any legal trouble or end up in jail for edge sorting, you’ll still most likely have to pay back all of the money you’ve won using this technique and will be escorted out of the casino.

How to win with edge sorting

You might also argue that it’s the manufacturer’s fault for leaving this opportunity by not trimming the cards properly to prevent edge sorting.

Be that as it may, none of this is important if you get caught edge sorting, as the burden of the blame will always fall on you.

What You Need to Successfully Edge Sort in Baccarat

For edge sorting to work in baccarat, it’s not an understatement to say that the stars need to align. First of all, you need to notice an asymmetrical pattern on the back of the cards that you’ll be able to follow.

Secondly, the dealer should always shuffle the cards in a specific order. This means that they should never turn the cards in the other direction to disturb the pattern you’re following.

Additionally, no one should be able to interfere with the cards. If all of this aligns, you have to hope for one more thing. This is that the casino’s surveillance staff won’t notice what you’re doing and come down to bust you immediately.

How Casinos Try to Combat Edge Sorting

With edge sorting being an issue the casinos heavily disprove, it’s safe to say that these gambling businesses aren’t sitting with their hands behind their backs.

Many casinos have already implemented several things to prevent edge sorting. Most of these aspects focus on the specific design of the cards and how they’re being shuffled.

For example, some require card manufacturers to make cards that have borders on their back edges.

Others have implemented more precise and sophisticated card printing and cutting methods that produce cards without any edge flaws that would assist edge sorting players.

Additionally, some venues have instituted a rule that the dealers should always do a turn (rotate the cards for 180 degrees) when shuffling the cards. This prevents the players from following the pattern based on the cards’ edges.

Moreover, in some places, the dealers are required to always discard the cards after the round is over and use a new deck for every new game. Albeit this method is a bit impractical and wasteful, it completely eliminates any possibilities of edge sorting.

Famous Edge Sorting Examples – The Phil Ivey Edge Sorting Incident

Arguably the most famous example of edge sorting in the gambling world is the one involving Phil Ivey.

The legendary poker player was involved in not one but multiple edge sorting scandals playing baccarat.

It was Phil Ivey that popularized this technique, which was largely unknown until he got busted.

Phil Ivey’s edge sorting scandal first came to light in 2012. During this year, Ivey, alongside edge sorting partner Cheung Yin Sun, won close to ten million dollars playing in the Borgata in Las Vegas.

The same year, the duo won twelve million dollars in a London casino playing the baccarat version punto banco. And, while the Borgata paid out Ivey and his partner, the London casino refused to do so, accusing the duo of cheating.

Phil Ivey edge sorting

Two years after their wins, the Borgata casino became aware of the duo’s edge sorting technique and sued them for the profits.

The casino’s staff noticed a peculiar pattern when Ivey and Cheung Yin Sun played. They requested from the dealer to use an automatic shuffler and to turn some cards 180 before putting them into the automatic card shuffler.

The dealer at the time accepted all of these requests, believing the two players to be superstitious as they claimed.

After two years of court litigation and dispute, the lawsuit was ruled in Borgata’s favor in 2016. Phil Ivey and Cheung Yin Sun had to pay more than ten million dollars in total.

While not many casino enthusiasts nowadays remember this incident, it opened the door for the broader popularization of edge sorting.

Even though Phil Ivey and his partner were busted in the end, the average gambler remembered only how the duo managed to wrestle millions from one of the most reputable casinos in the world. To this day, this is the most famous example of edge sorting in casinos.

Does Edge Sorting Work in Other Casino Games?

The bulk of this page is focused on providing you with the best insights into what edge sorting is and how it works in baccarat.

That said, we should also take a look at this technique through the lens of a couple of other popular casino games. So, here’s a closer view of how edge sorting works in poker and blackjack.

Edge Sorting in Poker

While edge sorting can be very effective in baccarat, this is not at all the case with poker. Simply put, there’s no way you can employ the edge sorting technique in poker. This is because there are too many things in your way to prevent you from doing so.

The biggest thing to address is that no one at the table will allow you to rotate the cards the way you want, so this eliminates the possibility of edge sorting.

Can you edge sort in poker

Plus, even if you ask a poker player to do so and they accept, you wouldn’t gain anything from it.

In poker, almost every player likes to fiddle around with their cards. Whether this includes squeezing them or rotating them and playing with them while the game is still active, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you can’t possibly keep track of everything in such a landscape. Moreover, once they muck their hand, the cards will rotate again.

So, you should avoid practicing edge sorting at the poker table. Also, you don’t need to worry about any player trying to use this technique on you. The most effective way to win in poker more often is to practice your strategy.

Edge Sorting in Blackjack

Similar to baccarat, there are ways you can edge sort in blackjack and see some concrete results.

You can use it to identify the card that will be dealt in the next round. More specifically, if you manage to find out that the first card is valued ten points or is an Ace, you can get a double-digit edge over the house.

Edge sorting in blackjack

Still, when it comes to blackjack, edge sorting is still not as effective as card counting. Plus, if a dealer rotates and turns the cards when shuffling, edge sorting can be near impossible in this game.

Card Edging Conclusion

If you find yourself under the right circumstances and do everything right, edge sorting can be a super-effective way to win in baccarat.

As you can see from the Phil Ivey example from above, you can win millions using this technique.

But, what that example also shows us is that you will most likely get busted in the end. No matter how good you are at playing cards and edge sorting, it is very hard to get an edge over the casino.

Not only this, but the reality is that the circumstances are often far from ideal, making it very challenging to apply edge sorting.

Even if you manage to beat the casino and get a short-term advantage, the house will always find a way to get back its money.

With all of the above in mind, knowing how edge sorting works and the factors that need to align for you to pull it off is certainly useful.

Of course, we don’t advise you to try to apply it at all costs whenever you play baccarat. But, who knows, maybe an opportunity opens up one day, and you use it to win a massive amount of money playing baccarat!

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