Baccarat Card Counting Guide

Baccarat Card Counting Guide

Baccarat card counting techniques are similar to those you can use in blackjack. But does this strategy provide the same advantages as it does in blackjack?

I answer this question and many more in this guide. Keep reading to learn how you can use card counting in baccarat. I break down the techniques involved and tell you how to use this baccarat strategy effectively.

Can You Count Cards In Baccarat?

First and foremost, does counting cards in baccarat work? The short answer is yes, but it is not that simple. There are many similarities between blackjack and baccarat, so it is not surprising that people have tried to use advantage play techniques in baccarat.

The card counting techniques first popularized by Ed Thorp can be used in baccarat. However, the strategy of counting cards is not nearly as effective in baccarat.

You only have one hand to bet on in blackjack, your own. Also, you have multiple chances to wager during the same round and have more control over the fate of your hand.

Baccarat players, on the other hand, could have two different hands to choose from. Most US casinos offer Punto Banco baccarat, which is banked by the casino itself. You have the choice of betting on the Banker hand or the Player hand.

So, even if you are counting cards correctly, you still need to decide which hand to wager on. Also, the choices for each hand are then made by a set of strict rules. As a result, card counting can work in baccarat, but it will be significantly less effective than it is in blackjack.

You can gain a small advantage by switching to the Player instead of the Banker when there are many small cards left in the deck because the probabilities change in favor of the Player.

Another area where you gain advantage are side bets, so let’s talk about them.

Baccarat Side Bets

Card counting for baccarat’s main game offers limited advantages. However, the technique works if you play baccarat with side wagers.

Your side wager options will vary depending on the style of baccarat and where you are playing. Some popular baccarat side bets, such as the Dragon 7 wager, can be taken advantage of with card counting techniques because of the extra information you have.

In-game Baccarat screenshot showing selection of side bets and playing cards on a purple tabletop surface.

Baccarat side wagers have specific conditions that must be met, such as the dealer needing three cards in their hand totaling a specific value. For example, the Dragon 7 requires a three-card Dealer hand worth seven points. Counting cards can give you an advantage in guessing when the deck is more likely to produce a winning hand for these side bets.

However, the process itself is different to what you do in blackjack, so let’s talk about that next.

How To Count Cards In Baccarat?

Blackjack card counters focus on tracking the 10-point cards left in the shoe. These cards are worth zero points in baccarat, though, so you do not need to focus as much on counting them.

Instead, you want to focus on counting the eights and nines in the deck. High cards like these make it less likely the dealer is going to have to draw a third card. Drawing a third card is necessary for most side wagers, such as the Panda 8.

You need to know the number of decks in the shoe to determine how many high-value cards are in play. When the high-value cards are low in the shoe, that is when you want to place your side wager.

Depending on the situation, you can make the Dragon 7, Panda 8, or other side bets when the deck is favoring them. These bets pay significantly higher odds than the Banker and Player hand bets, and you save money by not making them in unfavorable situations.

Card Counting For Baccarat In The Base Game

One advantage to baccarat card counting strategies is that you do not need to make these side bets every round. In most rounds, you will simply bet on the Banker or Player hand while you wait for the high cards to get low in the deck.

You can count cards for the base game by tracking the number of low cards that leave the deck. When the number of low-value cards in the deck gets low, you should bet on the Player hand despite its slightly higher house edge.

To do this effectively, you need to stick with the Banker hand bet and assign each card the following values:

    • Ace, 2, 3 = +1
    • 4 = +2
    • 5, 7, 8 = -1
    • 6 = -2
    • 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King = 0

Each time a card is played, you add or subtract its value from the count, starting at zero. You also should divide the count by the number of decks left in play for a more accurate reflection of the count. When the true count is 15 or higher, that is when you should switch to the Player hand bet.

Baccarat typically uses six or eight decks in the shoe. So, you could be counting cards for a while before the shoe favors low cards.

How To Take Advantage Of Baccarat Card Counting?

Card counting in baccarat is designed to help you know when to make specific bets. The decision will be based on whether the count is even, favoring high cards, or favoring low cards. You want to wait for the count to favor low cards to make your move.

  1. Ideally, you should start counting cards with a fresh shoe. This will allow you to start at zero and keep an accurate count throughout the game. When the count is relatively even or favors high cards, you should skip betting or stick to the Banker hand wager because it has the lowest house edge.

  2. When the count favors low cards, then you can start to change your bets. In the base game, this means switching from the Banker hand bet to the Player hand bet. You should wait for the true count to be +15 or higher before switching.

  3. Likewise, if you are using baccarat card counting methods for side wagers, then you want the count to favor low cards. When the true count is 15 or higher, you should place side wagers such as the Panada 8 or Dragon 7. You will not win every time, but the exaggerated payout odds help to balance out the risk.

Ready To Try Counting Cards In Baccarat?

Baccarat card counting techniques have not been as popularized as their blackjack counterparts. However, you can gain a small advantage over the casino by counting cards in Punto Banco baccarat. Check out the guide above to learn how to use card-counting techniques in baccarat.

After reading our guide, you will likely be ready to test out this strategy. Bovada Casino has great live dealer baccarat options available. You can use these games to practice your baccarat card counting skills and see the results.

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About the Author
Shaun Stack profile picture
Shaun Stack
Shaun Stack has authored dozens of casino blogs and joined our team in 2022. He enjoys playing any casino game but is particularly fond of Blackjack and Texas Hold'em. Also, he likes betting on sports, especially the NFL. Shaun is a native of Kansas City, but now lives in Pennsylvania and is an avid PA sports fan.

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