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Can a casino shuffle-up early, even on a multi-deck game, before the cut
card appears? Are they trying to stop card counters? I’ve had this done
to me on different occasions and was wondering if it is legal. Pat P.
Ordinarily a dealer inserts the cut card anywhere from the halfway point
to 75% from the top of the deck(s). Because counters gain their advantage
the deeper they can penetrate into the deck(s), casinos will thwart a
counter’s profit potential by inserting the cut card closer to the
Since counter profits dwindle when the cut card is inserted closer to the
front, which by the way is legal, consistent winning for the card counter
becomes much more difficult since counters can capitalize on higher plus
and minus counts when they were allowed to access the deck deeper.
Casinos everywhere may also legally shuffle the deck(s) before the cut or
burn card presents itself. If management suspects a player of card
counting, they may “shuffle-up” on him without warning, even after
just a few rounds have been dealt on a multi-deck game, or even after the
first round on a single deck.
Premature shuffling destroys the advantageous situation counters typically
enjoy. The successful card counter avoids the early shuffling
countermeasure by camouflaging his play and remaining undetected by pit
It has been well established, even by you in this column, that you can
gain a mathematical edge counting cards in blackjack. Do you believe the
same holds true for baccarat? Danny R.
Baccarat is a card game with one major similarity to blackjack, Danny.
Once the cards are dealt, they are then placed in a discard rack and do
not reappear until the shuffle. In theory, knowledge of the remaining
cards can be used for an applicable counting system. Because counting does
works in blackjack, some believe a card-counting system can/should work
for baccarat, being that the effect of removing any given card from the
game favors either the player or the house.
That said, personally I’m not willing to expend my already depleted
brain cells and count down eight decks of randomly shuffled cards for a
hypothetical, minuscule off-balance in my favor, especially when playing
baccarat either drunk or stupid the house only holds a 1.17 or 1.36
percent house advantage on the bank or player bet.
Even two leading authorities on counting systems, Peter Griffin and Edward
Thorp, believe baccarat is not a countable game. As a matter of fact,
Griffin’s analysis showed that a card-counter could earn less than ten
cents per day by using the strongest possible count system. Talk about
Likewise, I’ll band with Thorp and Griffin, even though I once learned a
supposedly simple counting method that an old-time pit boss named Dennis
taught me when I first learned to deal mini-baccarat. I’m sure it was
for my amusement and not to protect the casino’s war chest, since we
seldom saw a wager over five bucks, but he told me to count the 4s and 6s
as they left the shoe. He said when 4s exit the deck, statistically the
player should be betting on the banker, and when 6s come out, the player
wager is the smarter bet.
Is this count method practical? Hell if I know, but one thing Denny was
always good for was free after shift drinks at the casino bar.
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