You Can Count Cards in Baccarat – Here’s How

Closeup of a Man Holding Cards and a Baccarat Logo

You’re probably aware that you can count cards in blackjack and win money. Gamblers have been beating blackjack for decades through card counting.

However, baccarat card counting is far more low profile. The reason why is because it doesn’t generate many profits.

But you can make a fair amount of money when counting with a certain baccarat side bet. I’ll discuss more on how you can use this method later. First, though, I’d like to discuss why regular baccarat counting doesn’t result in big winnings.

The Problem With Standard Baccarat Card Counting

Some gamblers are shocked upon finding out that blackjack isn’t the only game that can be beaten through card counting. You can also earn long-term profits by counting baccarat games as well.

Of course, you need to learn the proper strategy before you’re able to make profits. If you put in the dedication, though, you can beat baccarat. However, there’s a big catch involved. You’re not going to make much money at all!

You’re normally looking at only earning pennies every hour. Famed gambling author Peter Griffin estimates that, at best, you can win about $0.70 per hour.

Maybe you still wouldn’t mind counting for fun once and a while if it were easy. However, counting this game is just as difficult as doing so with blackjack.

In short, you’re wasting time by counting cards in baccarat. You might as well just sit back, relax, and place the banker bet (1.06% house edge) every time.

Welcome to the Dragon Side Bet

You can see that baccarat isn’t a profitable game for advantage players (APs) under normal circumstances. No respectable AP will waste their time with earning $0.70 or less.

However, the Dragon side bet offers an interesting opportunity to make larger profits. I’ll discuss how you can count with the Dragon wager later.

First, though, I’d like to cover more on how this bet works. It features the following rules:

  • You wager on whether the banker or player will beat the other side by a certain point margin.
  • The banker or player must win with a “natural” (eight or nine on first two cards).
  • Bets on larger margins of victory deliver bigger payouts.

The common pay table for both the player and banker side is as follows:

  • Win by 9 = 30:1 payout
  • Win by 8 = 10:1
  • Win by 7 = 6:1
  • Win by 6 = 4:1
  • Win by 5 = 2:1
  • Win by 4 = 1:1
  • Anything else = Loss

Counting Cards With the Dragon Side Bet

You can see how the Dragon side wager works. Now, I’ll cover how it can help you make profits with card counting.

The first thing to realize about baccarat is that most casinos allow very deep deck penetration. In most cases, the dealer makes it almost to the end of an eight-deck shoe.

This deck penetration is significant when considering that you stand to win more money as a counter upon seeing additional cards. After all, your count will be more accurate towards the end of a shoe.

Casinos don’t allow this much penetration in order to stop blackjack card counters. But they have no problem doing so with baccarat when considering that normal counting methods don’t result in much profit.

Closeup of a Baccarat Table Game

However, this extra deck penetration can definitely help you win with side bets. You just need to know how to do so with the Dragon wager.

As mentioned above, player and banker dragon bets carry 2.65% and 9.37% house advantages, respectively. Therefore, you want to bet on the player’s side when counting.

Dr. Eliot Jacobson, a renowned gambling mathematician, has run the numbers on counting the Dragon bet. He notes that you want a shoe that’s rich in sevens, eights, and nines.

These cards increase the chances of your chosen Dragon side getting a natural. They should be assigned a point value of -1 when they come out of the shoe (bad for you).

Meanwhile, twos and threes are the worst cards for helping form naturals. Therefore, you want as few of these cards as possible. They should draw a point value of +1 when they’re dealt.

As with blackjack card counting, you’re looking for a positive count before raising bets. Upon determining a positive count, you should raise your wagers to capitalize.

What Kind of Edge Can You Gain With This AP Strategy?

The nice thing about counting cards in baccarat is that you don’t need to worry about much, if any, heat from the casino. Gambling establishments will let you count this game all day.

That said, you have a decent chance of walking away with profits at the end of the day when everything goes right. However, you shouldn’t expect to get rich with this strategy.

Jacobson points out that the best Dragon-based counting system only delivers a profit worth 0.91 units per hour. If your maximum bet during favorable counts tops out at $100, then you’ll make just over $9 per hour.

But this profit rate assumes that you get optimal deck penetration, where the dealer only leaves 14 cards undealt out of an eight-deck shoe.

Assuming the dealer places the cut card further up, then your profits drop. Here’s how much you can look forward to earning based on where the cut card is placed:

  • Cut card at 14 cards = $9.09 per hour
  • Cut card at 26 cards = $6.75
  • Cut card at 52 cards = $3.99
  • Cut card at 104 cards = $1.50

 Is Counting Cards With the Dragon Bet Worthwhile?

Counting the Dragon bet offers around the same profits as you’d earn when playing full-pay Deuces Wild with a quarter denomination. The latter delivers between $7 and $9 per hour under ideal conditions.

As an AP, you can earn up to a maximum of $9 hourly with the Dragon bet. Therefore, you can look forward to a decent profit when considering that casino games normally take money from you in the long run.

But is it worthwhile to actually go through all the trouble to make $9 each hour? I certainly wouldn’t say so.

El Royale Online Casino Baccarat

You can make this same hourly wage with much simpler jobs. Dishwashers and convenience store workers earn this same amount. Why then, would you want to do something that’s much riskier just to make the same amount with a less stressful job?

The only reasonable answer is if you view winning at baccarat as a challenge and want to profit off your gambling hobby. In this case, making $9 each hour in the casino isn’t so bad.

However, you certainly shouldn’t quit your day job to capitalize on the Dragon bet. This opportunity just doesn’t offer enough money to make it worth your time.


Regular baccarat card counting is a complete wash. It calls on you to diligently count cards in pursuit of making pennies each hour.

But standard baccarat counting isn’t the only way to make money with this game. You can earn bigger profits through the Dragon side bet.

When you count and bet on the Dragon wager in the right manner, you can make upwards of $9 per hour. Much of your winnings, though, depend upon where the cut card is placed.

That said, you can make $9 every hour with ideal deck penetration. But you probably still don’t find this amount to be worth the trouble of counting cards in baccarat.