Author: Robert Kazinsky, Last Updated: March 12th, 2023

Baccarat Edge Sorting – An Advantage without Cheating

Baccarat is one of the most popular casino games played around the world. It is a game of chance that requires players to make predictions about the outcome of each hand. While luck plays a significant role in baccarat, some players have found ways to gain an advantage through techniques such as edge sorting. Edge sorting is a legal and ingenious technique that can increase a player’s odds of winning without cheating. In this article, we will discuss the concept of baccarat edge sorting, its history, how it works, and the controversy surrounding it. We will also look at famous cases where edge sorting was used and the impact it has had on the world of gambling.

How Edge Sorting Works

Edge sorting is a technique used by advantage players in the game of baccarat to gain an edge over the house. The method involves identifying and exploiting imperfections on the back of cards to determine whether the card is high-value or low-value.

To understand how edge sorting works, it’s essential to first note that not all decks of cards are created equal. Manufacturing defects can lead to tiny variations in the back patterns of the cards, which are often unnoticeable to the naked eye but can be significant to an edge sorter. These variations can help the edge sorter to identify high-value cards and gain an advantage in the game.

To manipulate the dealer, an edge sorter will typically request a specific deck of cards from the casino, one that they know has the necessary imperfections. Once they have the deck, they will carefully examine the backs of each card to identify any distinguishing features. They may also subtly manipulate the cards, such as by rotating them slightly, to make the imperfections more visible.

Once the edge sorter has identified the high-value cards, they can use this information to adjust their betting strategy. By betting more heavily on the hands that include high-value cards, they increase their chances of winning and decrease the house’s edge.

The ability to recognize high-value cards is crucial in edge sorting, as it allows the player to make informed betting decisions. In baccarat, high-value cards are those with a value of ten or greater, such as kings, queens, and jacks. These cards are particularly valuable because they increase the likelihood of the player winning the hand.

The Effectiveness of Edge Sorting

While edge sorting may sound like a surefire way to win big at the baccarat table, the reality is far more complicated. The technique requires a great deal of skill and practice to execute successfully, and even then, there are no guarantees of success.

One of the biggest challenges of edge sorting is simply identifying the imperfections on the backs of the cards that give skilled players an edge. This requires careful observation and an eye for detail, as well as an understanding of the manufacturing process that produces the cards.

Assuming a player can successfully identify these imperfections, they must then manipulate the dealer into sorting the cards in a specific way that allows them to recognize which cards are which. This requires a great deal of finesse and subtlety, as any suspicion from the dealer or other players can quickly ruin the entire operation.

If executed correctly, however, edge sorting can provide a significant advantage to skilled players. By recognizing high-value cards, players can adjust their bets and playing strategies accordingly, increasing their chances of winning big.

However, it is worth noting that edge sorting is a controversial technique, and its legality is a subject of much debate. While some argue that it is simply a form of advantage play that falls within the rules of the game, others contend that it constitutes cheating and should be illegal.

Ultimately, whether edge sorting is considered cheating or not may depend on the specific casino and jurisdiction in question. In any case, it is clear that the technique requires a great deal of skill and practice to execute successfully, and even then, there are no guarantees of success.

The Phil Ivey Controversy

Phil Ivey is a well-known professional poker player who made headlines in 2012 for his use of edge sorting at Crockfords Casino in London. Ivey and his partner, Cheung Yin Sun, managed to win £7.7 million ($11 million) over two nights of baccarat using the technique.

However, the casino later discovered that Ivey and Sun were using edge sorting and refused to pay out their winnings. They claimed that Ivey and Sun had taken advantage of a defect in the cards that allowed them to identify the high-value cards. The casino argued that this was cheating and that they were not obligated to pay out the winnings.

Ivey and Sun sued the casino in court, but the case was ultimately decided in favor of the casino. The court ruled that Ivey had cheated and that the casino was not required to pay out his winnings. The judge stated that edge sorting was not a legitimate strategy and that Ivey’s use of it constituted cheating.

This case sparked a debate about the legality of edge sorting and whether it should be considered cheating. Some argued that Ivey was simply taking advantage of a flaw in the cards and that he was not doing anything illegal. Others believed that the technique gave Ivey an unfair advantage and that it should be considered cheating.

The controversy surrounding the Phil Ivey case highlights the potential legal issues that can arise with edge sorting. While some may argue that it is not cheating, the courts have generally ruled otherwise. As a result, it is important for players to understand the potential legal risks of using this technique in any form of gambling.

Alternatives to Edge Sorting

While edge sorting may offer significant advantages to skilled players, it is important to note that there are other legal techniques for reducing the house edge in baccarat that do not involve manipulating the cards.

One such technique is the use of the “banker” bet, which has a lower house edge than the “player” bet. Another strategy is to set win and loss limits for oneself, as well as to stick to a predetermined betting strategy. Additionally, some players choose to look for trends in the game, such as streaks of wins or losses, and adjust their betting accordingly.

Compared to these other strategies, edge sorting can be more difficult to execute and may require more skill and experience. It also carries the risk of being discovered and potentially facing legal consequences. However, for those who are skilled enough to successfully execute the technique, the potential rewards can be significant.


Edge sorting is a highly effective strategy for reducing the house edge in baccarat. However, it requires a high level of skill and experience to execute successfully, and the legal implications of using it remain uncertain. While the Phil Ivey controversy brought edge sorting to the forefront of public attention, it remains a controversial strategy that is not without risk.

For players who are unwilling or unable to pursue edge sorting, there are other legal techniques for reducing the house edge in baccarat, such as betting on the banker or player hands. These strategies may not be as lucrative as edge sorting, but they are simpler to execute and do not carry the same legal risk.

Ultimately, whether or not to pursue edge sorting as a strategy for baccarat players is a personal decision that should be based on a careful assessment of the risks and benefits. While edge sorting can offer significant advantages to skilled players, it requires a significant investment of time and effort to master. Players should weigh the potential rewards against the legal and ethical implications before deciding whether to pursue this strategy.