There are very few opportunities that come along for profitable team play in baccarat, especially when it comes to counting side bets. The UR Way Egalite collection of 10 side bets has topped the list of opportunities for a long time. But now there is a strong runner-up for second place, the so-called “5 Treasures” group of baccarat side bets. Apparently many casinos are now offering the following five side bets together under this name:
- Fortune 7 (aka Dragon 7): Pays 40-to-1 if the Banker wins with a three-card total of 7.
- Golden 8 (aka Panda 8): Pays 25-to-1 if the Player wins with a three-card total of 8.
- Heavenly 9:
- Pays 75-to-1 if both the Player AND Banker have a three-card total of 9.
- Pays 10-to-1 if either the Player OR Banker has a three-card total of 9.
- Blazing 7’s:
- Pays 200-to-1 if both Player AND Banker have a three-card total of 7.
- Pays 50-to-1 if both Player AND Banker have a two-card total of 7.
- Cover All: Pays 6-to-1 if any of the four bets above wins.
I have previously analyzed each of the wagers above, with the exception of “Cover All,” which I include below for the first time. Here are my results:
- Baseline house edge: 7.6113%
- Count system: (0,0,0,-1,-1,-1,-1,2,2,0)
- Target true count: +4
- Bet frequency: 9.16%
- Average edge: 8.03%
- Win (in units) per 100 hands: 0.734
- Baseline house edge: 10.1876%
- Count system: (1,1,-2,-2,-2,-1,-1,-2,4,1)
- Target true count: +11
- Bet frequency: 4.61%
- Average edge: 6.34%
- Win (in units) per 100 hands: 0.293
- Baseline house edge: 9.3105%
- Count system: (1,1,0,-1,-1,-1,-1,0,-2,1)
- Target true count: +7
- Bet frequency: 4.01%
- Average edge: 6.70%
- Win (in units) per 100 hands: 0.269
- Baseline house edge: 7.7797%
- Count system: (1,0,-1,-1,-1,0,-6,2,2,1)
- Target true count: +4
- Bet frequency: 19.68%
- Average edge: 10.44%
- Win (in units) per 100 hands: 2.05
- Baseline house edge: 2.9664%
- Count system: (1,0,0,-1,-1,-1,-2,0,0,1)
- Target true count: +2
- Bet frequency: 19.30%
- Average edge: 3.56%
- Win (in units) per 100 hands: 0.688
A quick note on Cover All. I am not at all sure I have the optimal count for this. The betting correlation I achieved with the count system above was a meager 0.96.
A talented counter could certainly count multiple bets from this list simultaneously by creative use of a scorecard, which baccarat allows the player to use. A perusal of these five bets shows that three of them give the bulk of the return, namely, Fortune 7, Blazing 7’s and Cover All. However, a team approach is both easier for each counter and more lucrative overall. Here’s how it works.
Team of Three
Imagine a team of three, each assigned to count one of the top three wagers from this collection. Each team member would use a scorecard to keep count, or master the mental arithmetic, for his assigned count. Whenever that team member made his side bet, the other teammates would take notice and also make the same side bet. In this way, each team member gets the full value as if they were counting all three bets, while only having to count one of the bets themselves.
Adding up the value from the top three bets (in units per 100 hands), we get:
0.734 + 2.05 + 0.688 = 3.47
In practical terms, an individual card counter who is gifted in using a score card to keep the top three counts would win overall at a rate of 3.47 units per 100 hands. With a $100 wager whenever a side bet count exceeded the target count, this solo player would be winning about $347 per 100 hands, or about $150 per hour. Even if each side bet was limited to $25, that’s still $37.50 per hour, a decent living wage.
With team play, each of the three teammates would get the full value of 3.47 units per 100 hands, so the team of three would be earning about 3 × $3.47 = $1,041 per 100 hands with $100 wagers.
Team of Five
Using the same approach with a team of five, each team member would win
0.734 + 0.293 + 0.269 + 2.05 + 0.688 = 4.06 units per 100 hands.
The team of five would be earning about t 5 × $4.06 = $2,030 per 100 hands with $100 wagers.
This collection of side bets is uniquely vulnerable to a team approach. I highly recommend that any casino offering 5 Treasures be on the lookout for the solo or team play against multiple bets in this collection. I recommend prioritizing game protection by the return from each wager, with Blazing 7’s being the most vulnerable and Heavenly 9 the least vulnerable.