Gambling has always been about beating the house to win, so some players have designed numerous strategies to do this. Unfortunately, casino games are designed in such a way that there are very few legitimate ways to successfully beat the house. Hence, cheating is popular among many bettors, and casinos have been doing their best to beat them at their games.
Although modern casinos have fixed many flaws in their games over the decades, new ones keep popping up. Edge sorting is one of these newer flaws, and it doesn’t take advantage of the casino. Rather, it takes advantage of the defects in a card manufacturer’s creations.
Learn all about this elusive gambling technique and how to use it. Explore its merits and demerits to see if it’s worth a try. You’ll also see the tale of Phil Ivey, a gambling professional who utilized edge sorting.
What Is the Edge Sorting Technique
Edge sorting is a technique that many bettors use to determine if a facedown card is a high card or a low one. This technique works by observation, taking advantage of the slight imperfections on the back of a card. So, you can say that this technique depends on imperfect or defective cards to work.
With these imperfections, a player would be able to mark down both high-value cards and low-value ones. This grants them a little advantage in games like baccarat, where high-value cards are sought.
While this technique might seem impossible at first glance, it’s not. All cards that bear patterns on their backs look perfectly similar at first glance, but there are subtle imperfections within them. That’s because as these cards are cut, the cuts aren’t perfectly symmetrical.
Let’s say that a card has a continuous diamond pattern running across its back. At the border of the card, you might notice that some diamond shapes are shown completely on some cards. In others, the diamond shape will be cut in half at the border.
These are the imperfections that edge sorting takes advantage of. However, that’s not where it ends; the player would need to “sort” that card, basically causing it to be rotated 180 degrees. This will make the difference more apparent and easier to discover after the cards are shuffled.
How Does It Work?
The first thing we outlined above is that edge sorting requires defective cards to work. So, you need to visit a casino that uses such cards and demand that they use them.
Of course, the player can’t say it outright, or the dealer may get suspicious. They could say that the cards make them lucky and play to the superstitious angle, which most dealers have no issue with.
The next step is to choose a game where high-value cards have significance, such as baccarat or its variants. The player would have to complete a round in order for the strategy to be activated. This way, the players will be able to see the back of the cards and their value after they’re flipped.
Once the high-value cards have been identified, the player can request that the dealer rotate the cards. There are other arguments that may be made in this situation, but the mystical card appears to be very powerful. So, the unsuspecting dealer would rotate those high-value cards 180 degrees.
These time-consuming steps of identifying high-value cards would result in the 180-degree rotation of those cards. As a result, the low-value cards will face one direction, while all the high-value cards will face the opposite direction. The player would recognize these high-value cards at a glance with this method, and they would have a positive gaming experience.
Of course, for this technique to remain effective, the player has to request that the dealer use an automatic shuffler. Automatic shufflers became widespread to counter card counting, but in this case, they prevent the card from being rotated. This is something that can happen if the dealer manually shuffles the cards.
Advantages of Edge Sorting
There are many benefits that you stand to gain when you consider edge sorting in a game, and they are:
High Rollers Can Easily Use It
One of the most important steps in edge sorting is getting the dealer to rotate the cards. Without a compelling justification, the majority of individuals would give up at this stage. If you’re someone who burns lots of money at the casino, however, the dealer would be less likely to say no.
So, you can say that this technique is perfect for high rollers, as no one would suspect their little requests. This way, the high rollers would be able to inconspicuously win lots of cash.
It Improves the Chances of Winning
Edge sorting improves the house edge that’s present in any game. For baccarat, this means a 6% increase compared to what the players would normally play with. With this kind of improvement in the house edge, players who use this technique have higher chances of winning.
It’s Not Really Cheating
Call it what you want, but there’s no rule against edge sorting. Sure, casinos do not like the technique as it grants players an unfair advantage, but it’s not strictly cheating.
Disadvantages of Edge Sorting
Although edge sorting increases your winning chances, there are many demerits that stop bettors from using it, and they are:
It Needs a Trained Eye
Edge sorting is really difficult, as it requires the player to spot differences in the designs of cards. These designs are usually tiny, so it’s difficult to spot differences between the designs on various cards.
After which, comes the more difficult part of applying this knowledge to win a game. So, using this technique to win a game is not as easy as it looks.
The Dealer Has to Rotate the Cards
For edge sorting to be effective in a game, the high-value cards have to face one direction and the low-value ones in the other. Therefore, at some time during the game, the dealer will need to swap out these cards.
Doing this for one card is simple enough, but for multiple cards, the dealer might get suspicious. So, you’ll have to cross this hurdle if you intend to apply this technique in a game.
The Card Deck Must Remain the Same
One of the conditions that must be in place for this technique to work is for the card deck to remain the same. If you play at a casino that switches its deck after every game, you won’t be able to use this technique. That’s because you’ll have to start all over again to identify all high and low-value cards.
Only Automatic Shufflers Can Be Used
When dealers shuffle cards, they sometimes rotate cards that are sticking out. This could be disastrous for someone who’s edge sorting, as this messes up the system that they’ve set up. So, the edge sorting technique would only be useful in a casino where automatic shufflers are used, as they don’t rotate cards.
Accused Players Can Be Blacklisted
Although edge sorting isn’t technically cheating, many casinos still disapprove of it. So, if you’re caught, your wins will be confiscated, and you’ll get blacklisted. This means that you won’t be allowed to play games at that casino ever again.
Is Edge Sorting Legal?
Everybody wonders this when they come across a tactic that casinos dislike. The quick response is no, edge sorting is not prohibited. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s legal, as casinos view it as dishonest and cheating.
So, you can say that edge sorting is in a grey area where there isn’t a clearly defined stance on its legality. Casinos can’t call it illegal since the players are not interfering with the game.
However, no one can argue that it grants players an unfair advantage, especially in a game of chance. Many courts also believe that this technique is unfair and that players should not engage in it. Hence, in cases where players are caught, the casinos are entitled to keep their money.
What Happened with Phil Ivey?
Edge sorting isn’t new, as many players have been using it for years; however, it came to the limelight due to Phil Ivey. Phil Ivey isn’t a new name in the gambling world, as he is a World Series of Poker Champion. He has also won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, becoming the youngest player to accumulate 10 of them.
These days, however, his name has been dragged through the mud due to the two court cases that he has had. The first stemmed from his £7,300,000 (approximately $12,000,000) win at the Crockfords casino in London. The second one is for a ten million dollars prize he received from the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
In both cases, Phil Ivey visited the casinos in 2012 and won heavily using edge sorting.
What Happened at Crockfords?
Professional gamblers Phil Ivey and Cheung Yin Sun visited Crockfords, where they hit Punto Banco, a popular baccarat variant. During this private session, Sun was able to persuade the dealers that Phil was very superstitious. She told them that he liked the 7, 8, and 9 cards rotated 180 degrees for luck.
As the croupier turned the cards, the pair also insisted on using a purple Gemaco brand deck. They also insisted on a Mandarin-speaking dealer, as such individuals would appreciate superstitions more. So, when they played the cards and won, they demanded to continue using the same deck, as it had been “lucky.”
Of course, the casino agreed, as Sun and Ivey were high rollers who were paying heavily. However, after the pair won $10 million from a 2-day gambling session, the casino became suspicious.
They reviewed their surveillance tapes and discovered the trick. Hence, the casino refused to give the pair their win and only returned their £1,000,000 stake.
Ivey never denied using edge sorting, as he claimed it wasn’t dishonest, but the casino didn’t see it that way. Even when Ivey took the casino to court, the UK courts ruled in the casino’s favor.
The court concluded that he played dishonestly and, as such, had no claim to the money. In their words, he tricked the croupier, causing her to believe that her actions had no effect on the game. It is thought that this amounted to cheating because it included fixing the deck.
Later at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa
While the Crockfords case was still in the works, Ivey went gambling at the Borgata Casino. In just four visits to the casino, he was able to build up a winning of $10 million. The casino cried foul and accused Ivey of cheating, suing him for $15.6 million.
$10 million for his winnings and $5.4 million for the perceived amount the casino believed they would have beaten Ivey for. The remainder of the funds was for compensation. Borgata also sued Gemaco, the manufacturer that produces the playing cards that Ivey used in both cases.
Can Edge Sorting Only Be Used in Baccarat?
That’s because other table games involve a lot of players, not just the dealer and one player. So, a player might not be able to get the dealer to accommodate too many requests in a game.
Also, edge sorting only works when the dealer doesn’t rotate a card after shuffling it. However, in other table games like when you play poker, where there are other players, this would be difficult.
That’s because the dealer would deal cards out to other players. These players would rotate the cards, squeeze them, and play with them however they wished. This would mess up whatever edge sorting system is being used in a game.
Of course, if a table is filled with players who are working together, they could get the technique to work. However, this won’t be as easy and unnoticeable as it would be if it were a single player. So, while edge sorting is a marvelous method to get an edge in baccarat, it might not hold up much in other games.
Edge sorting is a card technique that relies on astute observation to identify defective cards in a deck. After this, these cards will be used to identify the high and low-value cards in a game. This would grant the player an advantage in games like baccarat, allowing them to improve their winning chances.
Although edge sorting offers an unfair advantage in a game, many players see it as legal and fair. That’s because using the technique in a game doesn’t require any manipulation of the game in any way. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get away with it, though, as constant luck in a game of chance is suspicious.
With the blowout from the Phil Ivey case, playing card manufacturers have looked into their card designs. They are currently taking the required actions to stop any flawed cards from showing up in a deck. One of these methods includes designing a border along the back of the card to hide its edges.
Casinos have also taken up manual shuffling even when there is an automatic shuffler on the table. In other words, the deck is rearranged or even replaced after two or three games. As such, there’s a chance edge sorting won’t be as effective at casinos in the future.