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What Is Edge Sorting? (And Does It Work?)

edge sorting

A controversial topic that some UK casino players may have heard of, it cost one famous player (Phil Ivey) over $10 million of his winnings! It’s not card-counting or outright cheating, so what is edge sorting?

Since Phil Ivey exposed this technique and won over $9.6 million from the Borgata Hotel Casino, casinos haven’t taken kindly to edge sorting. For players, it offers a way to flip the tables and have an advantage, even if just for a while.

So, does edge-sorting work? Is it illegal? Read this detailed casino guide to learn everything you need to know about edge sorting! If you want to start playing some of your favourite online casino games, visit us at King Casino. We have a vast catalogue of over 1,000 casino games and online slots on offer. 

What is Card Edge Sorting? 

Let’s get to the point. What is edge sorting? Simply put, it’s an advantage play technique mostly used in Baccarat. In this technique, players try to identify cards by using the imperfections on the back of the cards. 

For edge sorting, you will require the deck of cards to have slightly different patterns or cuts and will also require incredible vision. The cards should have a series of diamonds, circles, etc., on the back. 

All cards seem normal at first, but on closer inspection, you will find that not all of the patterns on their backs are symmetrical. This is because when the cards are cut, they aren’t 100% symmetrical, and one side of the card might show the full diamond/circle, whereas the other will only show half of it. 

The difference in pattern helps, and now comes the ‘sorting’. When one of the cards is rotated 180 degrees, two cards can be distinguished from each other. For sorting, you will need a keen eye or to make some clever requests at the table. 

Phil Ivey

How Edge Sorting Works 

So, how does edge sorting work? First, you need to find a casino using the type of cards required for edge sorting. Then, once you know which card decks have this fault, find a casino using them. 

Edge sorting works best in a version of Baccarat known as ‘Punto Banco’. This is a game where you can have a great advantage if you can identify the big (face) cards from the regular ones. During the game, the player asks the dealer to rotate face cards, which can be done by seeming superstitious. Most mobile casinos indulge in players’ superstitions, especially if the request comes from a high roller. 

Once the shoe is out, all the cards will be positioned just right. The high cards can be rotated one way, whereas the low cards can be rotated the other way. Once the deal begins, you are able to tell apart the low and high cards by the pattern on the back and place bets accordingly. 

To ensure edge sorting works, the casino you play at has to be using an automatic card shuffler. This machine won’t rotate cards during the shuffle, and this will prove to be to your advantage. The entire setup will be ruined if a manual dealer shuffles the deck as they could ‘wash’ the cards, which can result in them rotating. 

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Is Edge Sorting Illegal? 

Now that you know what edge sorting is, let’s talk about whether it’s legal or not. It’s not entirely clear whether it’s a cheating form, but edge sorting hasn’t been branded illegal.

For edge sorting to be declared a cheating method, there must be some tampering or interference with the game. Therefore, this is a grey area. In Phil Ivey’s case, the main point that branded this as dishonest, and resulted in him having to pay back the winnings, was that Ivey had requested specific decks of cards and an automatic card shuffler to be used when he came to the casino to play. Since he is a high roller, the casino obliged, not realising they were assisting him in implementing this system.

Since Ivey had made specific requests, he had effectively tampered with the game as he had the casino set up the game so this method could be used. If the requests had not been accepted, then he likely would not have been able to use edge sorting. Therefore, if edge sorting can be done in a new casino game without specific requests being made, then it is not strictly cheating, but if the game is manipulated to allow it, then issues will arise.

That said, you are unlikely to get money from a casino if you’re caught using the edge sorting technique. As with Phil Ivey’s case, the courts will probably side with the casino on this matter. You won’t get prosecuted, but you won’t win any money if caught either. 

Is Edge Sorting Still Possible? 

So, does edge sorting work, and is using this method still possible? Well, if you’re playing at an online casino, you can forget about this method completely. The cards are either digitised, so there won’t be any imperfections in the pattern, and even if it’s a live dealer game, you won’t be able to get a clear and close view of the back of the cards. 

In the case of land-based casinos, edge sorting is a technique that can still work. It’s not only limited to Baccarat either, as players can try to utilise it to their advantage in Blackjack. However, for this to happen, you would need the dealer to listen to your requests, and this may only happen if you’re playing alone with the dealer. In Poker, edge sorting can’t be utilised as you can’t rotate the cards. 

To sum up, edge sorting is most effective in Baccarat, allowing you to gain an advantage over the casino if done correctly. However, it isn’t easy to do in real life, and its legality is still a bit up in the air as the finding in Phil Ivey’s case were not entirely clear. 

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