ChipDeFerrari
Joined: Dec 1, 2009
• Posts: 8
December 1st, 2009 at 6:36:41 PM permalink
Hello,

I run a baccarat player site (no link here, I read the policy on WOO carefully, so you'll find me if I'm worthy) and I think the Wizard is wrong when he says there's no point in counting cards in baccarat.

In Scoblete's Baccarat book, he mentions a system for counting by Tamburin and Rahm that lets you know when betting "Player" is a better bet than "Banker."

In short, this is the system:

The shoe starts at +14
card have values of:
8,9,10,J,Q,K = -1
2,5 = +1
3,4 = +2
A,6,7 = 0

Anytime the count drops below zero, you switch from betting Bank to Player and improve your odds.

I find it hard to believe Tamburin had it wrong, and while you can't have a positive EV bet in baccarat, reducing your losses is a good thing, and counting keeps your brain working.

Am i incorrect in asserting that counting has value in baccarat (and is fun) or has the Wizard made a rare mistake?
Wizard
Joined: Oct 14, 2009
• Posts: 22432
December 1st, 2009 at 8:58:18 PM permalink
Yes, you are incorrect.

Counting in baccarat is basically a waste of time. You would need to track every card and use a computer to beat baccarat with card counting. For more details, see my baccarat appendix 2.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
ChipDeFerrari
Joined: Dec 1, 2009
• Posts: 8
December 1st, 2009 at 11:29:42 PM permalink
I got the Wizard himself, thank you for the link to the appendix--I read it and played with the calculator.

I definitely concede that a \$100/hand bettor might only save 25-75 cents in expected losses per hour, but it IS fun to have a system that tells you when Player is actually a better bet.

I regret my post title, as I don't actually think you are wrong from a practical standpoint-but when has playing a negative expectation game for money ever been practical? I just like to switch between Bank and Player and have operated under the assumption that I had at least a passing justification.

So, is the Tamburin system correct in it's approach to switching between Bank and Player to *very* nominally reduce the house edge? Scoblete says "Player" becomes a slightly better bet roughly 10% of the time, and the WOO baccarat calculator shows that at least some feasible deck situations make Player a better bet.

When I play, I track like the counting math I presented is solid (though I didn't test it) so I hope I haven't been wasting my time.

Anymore than tracking for a quarter per hour is a time-waster!
Wizard
Joined: Oct 14, 2009
• Posts: 22432
December 2nd, 2009 at 4:27:23 AM permalink
Quote: ChipDeFerrari

In Scoblete's Baccarat book, he mentions a system for counting by Tamburin and Rahm that lets you know when betting "Player" is a better bet than "Banker."

In short, this is the system:

The shoe starts at +14
card have values of:
8,9,10,J,Q,K = -1
2,5 = +1
3,4 = +2
A,6,7 = 0

Anytime the count drops below zero, you switch from betting Bank to Player and improve your odds.

Even if counting baccarat for fun, I can't endorse that strategy. For one thing, the +1 for a five implies that fives are good for the Banker bet. My appendix when fives leave the deck, it favors the Player bet.

I would change the points per card as follows:

1 to 4 = +1
5 to 8 = -1

I don't know at what point you should start at to switch to Player below zero.

I can't help but say that if you're willing to work this hard, why not have an advantage, and count cards in blackjack?
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
• Posts: 14484
December 2nd, 2009 at 4:59:45 AM permalink
Quote: ChipDeFerrari

and counting keeps your brain working.

Ah... now that is what you really enjoy! The challenge.
And maybe it does really "work" in that it gives you a very miniscule improvement but mainly it works because you enjoy doing it as a mental exercise. Its sort of like sticking your thumb out as an armored car goes by: you know they won't stop to pick up a hitchhiker, but its good for a laugh and it really doesn't cost you anything.

So my advice would be, sure... keep up your "card counting at Baccarat" routine. Even refine it somewhat from time to time. It keeps you happy, so why not do it. Just remember that your net gain in any session won't really cover one tip to the cocktail waitress much less a tip to the dealers. And ofcourse once you factor in the inevitable dealer error and player error ... well, there goes any benefit of your having counted cards.

Yet, its harmless and it won't make things worse for you. So why not just keep honing your counting skills and have fun with your hobby.
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
• Posts: 14484
December 2nd, 2009 at 5:10:58 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I can't help but say that if you're willing to work this hard, why not have an advantage, and count cards in blackjack?

Yes, I imagine that would be even better, though counting at blackjack is more easily noticed and more likely to bring casino heat of some sort.
ChipDeFerrari
Joined: Dec 1, 2009
• Posts: 8
December 2nd, 2009 at 10:52:05 AM permalink
It's true, I enjoy the mental challenge and love baccarat, and counting is really easy because you can do it on paper, in full view, at the table, without fear of harrasment.

My back of the envelope math says it saves the \$100/hand bettor about \$1 per hour, which is miniscule but does pay a few tips.

I do count cards at blackjack also, but it's more about the fact that betting Bank every time isn't optimal, you should bet Bank about 90% of the time and Player 10%.

Anyway, thanks for the replies, and thanks to the Wizard for both the forum and your proposed strategy optimization, I'll crunch the numbers and reduce my expected loss by another couple pennies an hour!
--
Also, when you reply to a thread it would be nice to see the whole thing, right now it's just a blank window and you need to open another tab to see the thread.
MrPapagiorgio
Joined: Nov 11, 2009
• Posts: 183
December 3rd, 2009 at 3:55:44 AM permalink
Quote: ChipDeFerrari

Also, when you reply to a thread it would be nice to see the whole thing, right now it's just a blank window and you need to open another tab to see the thread.

AMEN! (cough, vbulletin, cough)
So I says to him, I said "Get your own monkey!"
ChipDeFerrari
Joined: Dec 1, 2009
• Posts: 8
December 11th, 2009 at 2:40:05 PM permalink
I think the reason the counting system by Tamburin is so odd (0's are counted for the bank) is that removing zeroes seems to help BOTH hands but it helps the dealer more (again, thanks for the calculator). Still, figuring when to bet player or bank seems reasonable but I question this method more after a bit of testing.

This system isn't designed to get a house edge, it's designed to help you play the game correctly in all circumstances.

When I asked "Is the Wizard Wrong?" I really meant "Should you always bet Bank in baccarat if your goal is proper play?" And I *think* the Wizard agrees with me that you should mathematically occasionally bet Player to minimize the house edge--he just thinks it's not worth your time, ergo the advice to always bet 'Bank.'

Which I still think is wrong, from a proper strategy perspective.

Wizard, I know you smacked me down mightily here, but I'll be in Las Vegas Monday-Wednesday and really value your sites, so if I can buy you lunch for your efforts here and at WOO, shoot me an email at the address I registered.
DorothyGale
Joined: Nov 23, 2009
• Posts: 639
December 12th, 2009 at 11:13:04 AM permalink
Quote: ChipDeFerrari

Hello,
I find it hard to believe Tamburin had it wrong, and while you can't have a positive EV bet in baccarat, reducing your losses is a good thing, and counting keeps your brain working.

From "Beyond Counting" by James Grosjean, page 161:

"Stay clear of the book by Tamburin and Rahm, which displays such a weak understanding of statistics that I cannot trust their count system, which by their admission does not provide an edge anyway."

--Dorothy

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