Gamblers have been devising various strategies to beat live casinos ever since the first land-based one opened centuries ago. One such notable strategy is card counting, invented by Edward Thorp in the 1960s for blackjack. However, there are other working strategies out there, such as edge sorting, which was used by Phil Ivey to win big playing baccarat. But what exactly is edge sorting, and is it a legal strategy for gambling at the best live casinos? To find out the answers to these and many other questions, keep reading!
What is Edge Sorting?
Edge sorting represents a clever and nuanced gambling strategy, wherein players discern the value of cards based on minute irregularities in their back designs. This method might initially seem intricate, but it boils down to the skillful observation of subtle, unintentional defects on the backside of playing cards. By capitalizing on these slight imperfections, players gain a strategic upper hand. While this technique is most commonly associated with baccarat, its utility extends to other card games like blackjack and poker, where keen observation can turn the tide in favor of the player. The effectiveness of edge sorting lies in the player's ability to detect and remember these tiny inconsistencies, transforming them into a powerful tool during gameplay.
Understanding Edge Sorting
To most casual card players, the backside of a facedown card seems indistinguishable from another. However, for the adept edge sorter, this is where the game truly begins. These players possess an exceptional level of visual acuity and a wealth of experience at the card table, allowing them to identify cards based solely on their backside patterns.
The Role of Card Manufacturing in Edge Sorting
The secret behind edge sorting lies in the card manufacturing process. Occasionally, during production, slight variances occur in the cutting of cards, leading to faintly different patterns along the edges. To the uninitiated, these discrepancies are nearly imperceptible, but to a player with a trained eye, these variations are as clear as day. They can spot the telltale signs of different cards by scrutinizing the edges that show when the cards are stacked or spread out.
Professional edge sorters hone this skill over time, developing a keen sense of attention to detail that allows them to distinguish between cards that look identical to most. This ability doesn't just come naturally; it is often the result of hours of practice and a deep understanding of how different card decks are produced and used in live casinos. This explains why live casinos frequently change decks, as adept edge sorting can dramatically shift the odds in a game, providing insightful players with a significant advantage. Thus, edge sorting, while not widely practiced due to its complexity and the need for exceptional observational skills, remains a fascinating and potentially game-changing strategy in the world of high-stakes card gaming.
Balancing Risk and Reward
Edge sorting, while undoubtedly challenging, presents a unique opportunity to tilt the odds in your favor when playing against a live casino. The potential advantage gained through this technique can be as high as 7%. In practical terms, for every $100 wagered, edge sorting could theoretically yield a $7 return. While this margin might seem modest at first glance, it holds substantial appeal for high-stakes players.
Consider the scenario of betting $500 per hand. With edge sorting, this could result in an additional $35 per hand. If a player engages in 50 hands within an hour, this strategy could potentially lead to an extra $1,750 in that timeframe. Such figures illustrate why edge sorting is particularly attractive to high rollers, who can leverage their large bets to amplify their gains.
However, it's important to acknowledge the realities of relying on edge sorting as a consistent income source. To sustain a lifestyle solely through this strategy requires a substantial bankroll, and the risks involved are not negligible. Additionally, consistently winning through edge sorting may draw attention at the casino. High-profile players, especially those winning frequently, often find themselves under scrutiny. Casinos are known for their measures against players who are too successful, particularly if they suspect an unconventional strategy like edge sorting. Therefore, while edge sorting can be lucrative, it requires careful consideration of both the financial and practical aspects of casino gaming.
Is Using Edge Sorting Legal?
Casinos often regard the edge sorting strategy as blatant cheating, while many casino players consider it as a legitimate advantage play. The players themselves don’t manufacture the table game cards, so they believe they're not doing anything wrong.
However, Phil Ivey and his partner Cheung Yin Sun's $9.6 million win at the Borgata casino playing baccarat led to a lawsuit citing cheating allegations. In 2016, a federal judge ruled that the players refund the casino $10 million.
Interestingly, the US District Judge, Noel Hillman, ruled that the players didn’t commit any fraud. Instead, he found that the players violated the casino rules that prohibit the marking of cards. Although they didn’t physically mark the cards, the players used tiny card imperfections to their advantage.
In another instance, Crockfords casino in the UK refused to pay Phil his $11 million winnings from a 2012 session. He sued them, but lost again in the UK High Court after a judge classified edge sorting as “cheating.” It was pointed out that the case would have turned out differently if Phil had spotted the cards through simple observation instead of deliberately fixing the deck.
About the author
Nathan "KiwiKing" Williams brings a touch of Kiwi flair to the global live casino arena. Blending his analytical mind with an infectious passion for the game, he crafts content that guides, informs, and entertains.