All you need to know about Edge Sorting Strategy
Table of content:
- Edge sorting strategy – A working model
- A brief history of edge sorting – The Phil Ivey case
- Key requirements to execute edge sorting strategy
- The use of edge sorting in different games
Edge sorting is an advantage play technique that is used by certain poker players to determine the value of the face down cards just by looking at their backs. This technique to say the least requires a high amount of attention to detail and practice but actually allows players to read the cards that are facing down. In order to use the technique of “edge sorting”, a player needs to play with the cards that have been improperly cut or have imperfections in them.
A normal card in general has a symmetrical design on the back. However, an improperly cut card usually has an asymmetrical design. By using the technique of edge sorting, skilled players identify the certain value cards from the deck and thereafter use them to their advantage. If you have already developed a keen interest in this supremely popular and effective technique, then keep reading this in-depth guide. Here, we have detailed everything right from the working model of edge sorting, to its history and even the card games where it is and can be popularly used.
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The basic idea behind edge sorting is that some deck of cards has backs that feature slight imperfections or differences from each other. By using the technique of edge sorting, a player can thereafter determine the value of the face down cards by spotting the differences at the back of the cards. To simplify, the edge sorting strategy is all about noticing the imperfections in the designs at the back of the cards and thereafter using those flaws to determine the value of the cards. A point to note here is that, most deck manufacturers in general have streamlined processes using which they produce countless decks of cards every day. So, the flaws in the decks are not just completely irregular but they are actually quite rare as well. In fact, most aspects of card backs are rather identical from one card to another.
However, sometimes it so happens that some decks feature key differences in the two long edges of the cards. For instance – the left edge of a high value card might have a half-diamond pattern while the left edge of a low value card might feature a full-diamond pattern. This is an extremely small and subtle difference, but the one that a trained eye can easily put to its advantage. These differences as you might have guessed are extremely difficult to spot.
However, these flaws can be rather easily read when the cards are rotated. Vital to this, some rich and professional poker players generally convince or request the dealers to rotate the cards for them. They generally state some superstitious reasons for doing the same. Like – they might state they are extremely superstitious and can only play a game when certain cards are rotated at a 180-degree angle or in some other specific manner. Here, you need to remember that the edge sorting strategy generally proves ineffective if the cards are hand-dealt. This is because when cards are distributed manually, it makes spotting the differences in the back, close to impossible and thus disorients the entire strategy.
As a result, it is usually recommended that players looking to indulge in edge sorting must only play a hand where the cards are dealt using an automatic shuffler. An automatic shuffler does not disorient the cards and as such deals them the same way they have been rotated. So, now the question arises – how does an edge sorter know which deck of cards is flawed? Well, to spot the differences in the deck of cards, edge sorters check different kinds of decks. Thereafter once they spot the flaws or imperfections in a deck they insist the dealer to use and continue the same deck throughout all their games.
The world would have been comfortably unaware of “edge sorting”, if it had not been for Phil Ivey and his accomplice Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun. In the year 2012, Ivey and his accomplice Sun won close to $12 million from Croakfords Casino and $10 million from Borgata Casino. At both these casinos, Ivey and Sun made some strange requests:
1) They wanted certain cards in the deck to be rotated at 180 degrees for religious reasons.
2) A specific deck (that Sun had studied early) be used for all their games.
3) A mandarin Chinese-speaker be allotted to them
4) Lastly, only an automatic shuffler be used for dealing the cards
All these requests were made under the guise of superstition. But, truly, Ivey and Sun were just indulging in edge sorting. Since they did not want others in the casino to understand their instructions, they asked for a Mandarin-speaking dealer. Sun had earlier studied the decks at various casinos and therefore knew which decks at these two casinos had flaws. They asked to rotate the cards so Phil could read the irregularities and spot the high-value cards. Lastly, they asked for an automatic shuffler because using an automatic shuffler generally makes it far easier to edge sort the cards.
Once all of these demands were met, Phil and Sun went on to win 10 million dollars at Croaksfords, an amount that was not paid to them. Yes, the pin bosses at the casino basically grew suspicious and thereafter Phil was sued for the same amount. While this case was underway Borgata also reassessed the video footage from the night Phil came to their casino and deciphered that Phil indulged in a technique by the name “edge sorting” to win the huge amount. It is vital to notice, that despite being sued, Phil was not jailed for either of these cases but he wasn’t paid a penny he made at these casinos either. This is because edge sorting is a trick that is advantageous to the player but cannot essentially be labelled as cheating. Advantage game is basically a type of play where the player does not use any external means to gain an advantage. Therefore, edge sorting is not exactly considered a criminal offense.
No matter how experienced or trained you are, you cannot indulge in edge sorting until certain key requirements are met. Yes, for a player to successfully indulge in edge sorting the following requirements need to be fulfilled.
1) Edge sorting can only work in games where the back of one or more cards is visible.
2) Building on the same, it is essential that certain cards in the deck have a visibly clear asymmetrical repeated pattern.
3) The technique of edge sorting can only work in situations where a set pattern of play is followed and the cards are dealt in an absolutely same manner every time.
4) The shuffling of the deck should be done in such a manner that it does not include a turn. A turn generally happens when a deck of cards is divided into 2 heaps and thereafter one of the heaps is rotated to 180 degrees. A turn of 180 degrees generally disturbs the entire pattern of the deck and this in turn makes the execution of the edge sorting strategy close to impossible.
5) The designated dealer for the current hand should be willing to accommodate the demands for edge sorting.
6) The same deck must be used for all the games. Most online sites and casinos have rules wherein a deck is discarded once a round of blackjack, baccarat or punto banco comes to an end.
The night Phil and Sun went to Croacksfords, they were playing Baccarat, and when they went to Borgata, they were indulged in a game by the name “Punto Banco”. Apart from these games, the edge sorting technique can also be used in Blackjack to gain a significant advantage. So, in this section, let us understand how edge sorting can be potentially used in the different types of card games:
Edge sorting technique in Baccarat
To understand how edge sorting works in baccarat, you first need to have a basic idea about its rules. So, baccarat is a card game where the ultimate goal of the player is to bet on a winning hand. A player in this game can actually bet on both sides – the banker and the player. To put it simply, it is a comparing card game that is played between two hands “banker” and the “player”. Here, two cards are dealt and the winning hand is determined based on the pair that has the score closest to 9. But we have a catch here. The total hand value is determined using the total of the two cards but thereafter the first digit is removed. For instance – if a player is dealt a hand containing an 8 and 7 then the total of the cards comes down to 15, but now the value of tens will be removed. Therefore, the player holds a hand with a value of just 5.
In baccarat, all cards 2 through 9 hold their face value, while ace generally has a value of only 1. All other cards, including 10 and face cards such as Jack, Queen, King have a value of 0. So, if a player is dealt a hand with a Jack and 7 then his hand value basically comes down to 7 only. This way the value of the cards of both the banker and the player is calculated and the one with a greater card value is declared the winner.
So, you have got a basic idea about the rules of Baccarat now let us continue our discussion about edge sorting. The edge sorting technique as mentioned before takes advantage of the flaws on the back of the cards. This in turn provides an unfair and oftentimes a major advantage to the players. But, how?
On a second look at the rules of Baccarat, it is quite clear that some cards used in this game hold a superior advantage as compared to other cards. As an astute baccarat player, you would likely want to be dealt as many 6,7,8 and 9 as possible and would potentially want to avoid all the small value and face cards. Vital to this, players playing Baccarat generally read the cards using edge sorting and thereafter ask the dealer to rotate all the 6,7,8 and 9s.
Thereafter, by carefully analyzing the cards, they try to understand if the first card to be dealt to the player or the banker is going to be one amongst the four or not. Then, they pledge their money on the player’s or banker’s hand accordingly. This as you might have guessed, generally provides any player with a significant advantage during Baccarat.
Edge sorting technique in Punto Banco
Punto Banco to say the least is just another fun variation of Baccarat. Akin to Baccarat, even in the Punto Banco, players have the option of betting on the player, the banker or even both. The other rules followed in this game are broadly similar to Baccarat. For instance, even in this game, cards 1-9 retain their face value, while an ace is equal to 1 and the face cards hold the value of 0. Therefore, in this game as well, knowing whether a card is high or low value can actually help a player decide who to put the money on and who is going to have a higher score.
Edge sorting technique in Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular poker games in the poker world is relatively simple with a straight-forward set of rules. The basic aim behind playing blackjack is to have a higher card total than the dealer but less than 21. In this game, aces are usually worth 1 or 11, while the face cards have a value of 10. Each player in this game is allotted 2 cards, face up, in the beginning of the game. While the dealer is also allotted two cards, one face up and another face down. Thereafter the value of the hand is determined after adding the value on the two cards. If either the dealer or the player gets a hand value of greater than 21, then they bust. To bust is to become ineligible to continue the game. While the dealer's one card is up, the other is face down. This dealer’s down card is usually hidden up till the very end.
After reading the rules of Blackjack, it must have been clear that if any player uses the technique of edge sorting, then he can very likely find some valuable information about the dealer’s down or hole card and the next card that will be dealt from the deck. This piece of information is crucial to correctly guess the hands that the dealer might have.
With all things added up, it won’t be wrong to say that edge sorting is an exceptionally smart and effective strategy that can actually work wonders for any player. The only catch is that the dealer should accommodate the demands of the player. There is another important point we need to address here. The Phil Ivey edge sorting case basically created a perception among people that only the rich, elite and powerful players can pull off edge sorting.
However, this is far from the truth. Players from any walk of life can sort the edges. To do so, firstly, they need to spot a deck of cards that is exploitable, thereafter they need to ensure that certain high value cards are turned 180 degrees and finally an automatic shuffler is used to deal the cards. On a parting note, always remember though edge sorting is not a criminal offense it is still frowned upon and can land you in trouble. Therefore, while using this technique, be extra careful and try not to invite any unwanted attention.
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