How to Count Cards for the Main Baccarat Wagers
While card counting is most commonly associated with blackjack, it’s possible to decrease the house advantage by counting cards in live dealer Baccarat online. In what follows, we’ll break down a system for doing so and explain how to use it to know when to adjust your strategies from how you normally play.
An Introduction to Baccarat Card Counting
Card counting is a subject that has been romanticized to the point that most people who have heard of it don’t actually know what it means. Many have the mistaken impression that it involves memorizing the order of the cards in the deck, and while that’s something that a small number of people are capable of doing, that’s much harder than what we’re going to look at here.
Card counting in the game of Baccarat is about keeping up with how many of certain types of cards have been dealt relative to each other by keeping a running score in your head.
That sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but it’s difficult to describe without actually just explaining how it’s done. To put it plainly, if you have an average attention span and can do addition or subtraction by 1 or 2, then you have all of the skills you need to learn how to count cards in live dealer Baccarat.
A Note on Which Bets We Are Counting For
There are two types of card counting, more or less, when it comes to Baccarat games, and it’s important to make it clear which of the two we are talking about here.
In the first case, which is what we’re doing here, we’re going to be counting cards for the main bets. That means we’re counting so that we know something about the player and banker wagers.
In the second case, which is not what our focus is here at all, we could be looking at counting cards for various side bets. While the strategies we’re going to talk about here will work for games that happen to have side bets, our focus here is on what will affect the main bets themselves instead. There are separate systems for the side bets that are outside of the scope of what we’re looking at here in particular.
The Overall Concept of Baccarat Card Counting
To learn how to count cards for this game, you need to learn the basic procedure as well as how the cards are valued. We’re going to start with the entire purpose so that you know what you’re trying to achieve and go from there.
What is the Point of Counting Cards?
In virtually all Baccarat games, the banker bet and the player bet are your best two options in terms of the house advantage being the smallest of all of the available wagers. Additionally, it’s the banker bet that usually has a smaller house edge than the player bet, so the banker bet is your default.
The point of counting cards in Baccarat is so that you can tell when it’s actually better to switch over to the player bet.
In essence, it tells you which of these two wagers are the best option. If you switch accordingly and follow these strategies, then you’ll get a lower house advantage on average compared to players who just take the banker bet 100 percent of the time.
While following this card counting strategy by itself is not going to be enough to get an edge against the casino the vast majority of the time, it’s one part of an overall approach that can get you there if you incorporate bonuses and other strategies.
Baccarat Card Counting Procedure
There’s a basic procedure to how this is done. We’ll get to how the cards are scored below, but this is the essential process to follow:
- Your count begins at zero when there is a fresh deck or shoe of cards brought to the table.
- When a card is dealt, you’ll add or subject the appropriate value for that card from your count based on the values we have listed below.
- At any given time, you’ll need to convert your count into what’s known as the true count, which you get by dividing the count by the number of decks left in the shoe.
- In a Baccarat game with one deck, you’ll switch to the player bet in situations with a true count of more than 11.
- In standard Baccarat games with six or eight decks, switching to the player bet happens with a true count of at least 15.
- Remember to start your count over when the deck is shuffled or the shoe is replaced.
The procedure itself isn’t difficult to learn, and with the slow pace of how dealing happens in live dealer Baccarat games online, it’s really easy to get started with since there’s not that much information to keep up with.
Card Value When Card Counting in Live Baccarat
The hardest part of learning to count cards for this game is remembering how each card is valued. This is something that can get better with practice, which we’ll get into further down below.
The card weights for this counting system are as follows:
- 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King – No value
- Ace, 2, 3 – Add 1
- 4 – Add 2
- 5, 7, 8 – Subtract 1
- 6 – Subtract 2
That’s all there really is to know. The main thing to focus on first is that nines and face cards (including 10s) have no value, and then you want to remember that the value of the 4s and 6s are doubled compared to the rest of the cards. Once you keep those things in mind, it’s pretty easy to remember the rest.
How to Practice and Master This Counting Strategy
If you have a standard 52-card deck lying around, then you have all of the tools that you need to master card counting.
To practice, shuffle the deck, and then deal out one card at a time. Keep up with the count as you go. If you have a non-zero count once you have dealt all 52 cards, then you made a mistake somewhere.
Once you can do this over and over with no mistakes, you’ll want to switch it up by dealing two cards at a time instead of just one. Repeat this approach with three cards until you can get it right very quickly 100 percent of the time.
When you can do that, which doesn’t take all that long if you focus on what you’re doing, then you’ll be ready to count for real at the online live dealer Baccarat tables.
A Piece of an Overall Strategy
One thing that sets Baccarat card counting apart from other similar strategies for other games is that, when you’re counting for the main player and banker bets in the way that we have described here, there is no way to get a lasting advantage over the house. Simply put, it doesn’t lower the house advantage quite enough to achieve that on it own.
That’s why card counting is a piece of an overall strategy for the game that will incorporate other things like taking advantage of promotions or counting cards in a different way to take advantage of different side bets. It’s completely up to you on how you go about it, but that’s how strategy works for this game since it’s such a straightforward title.
Not a lot of people bother with Baccarat card counting because they don’t want to put the time into it, but it’s worth it. Within an hour or two of practice, you can be virtually perfect at counting, which will give you plenty of opportunities in live dealer games to have a smaller house edge than you would get otherwise.