What You Should Know About Edge Sorting

Edge sorting is a sneaky tactic used by blackjack players who have learned to exploit flaws in the printing on the cards’ backs. One way that skilled card players can gain an upper hand is by sorting the cards in their deck by their edges. They achieve this by keeping an eye out for and taking use of the cards’ cut patterns or the backs’ natural imperfections. All cards should be cut from the reverse pattern in a way that makes their edges mirror each other.

However, savvy players may be able to single out specific cards of interest by observing the deck for any pattern deviations along the edges. As a result, they have the advantage throughout the game. The players can improve their betting and game strategy by using the information they gain through edge sorting to identify certain groups of cards. What this means, in essence, is that players take advantage of a flaw in the cards’ production to their own benefit.

Check Out This Video on Edge Sorting

Because of edge sorting, a few famous players have made millions in the world’s most exclusive casinos. Blackjack, Poker, Baccarat, Caribbean Stud, Mississippi Stud, and many more all adhere to edge sorting. Many players have used edge sorting to get an advantage over the house thanks to one card manufacturer, Gemaco, whose cards have been found to be defective in the past.  If you have a good eye and a clear mind, edge sorting is a breeze.  You need only check the back design of the playing cards. Cards with repeated patterns on the backs may have asymmetrical edges that are easier to spot on the left and right sides, or the top and bottom.



Card Sorting by Edge

Diamonds in their entirety can be seen along the left border of the card, while diamonds cut in half can be seen along the right.

The asymmetry is also seen in the fading edges of the cards.

This asymmetry can manifest itself at the top, bottom, or left/right edges, and the players will be able to pick it out. Because edge sorting is most effective against games in which some sets of cards are more valuable than others, almost all card games are susceptible to it. The players who excel at edge sorting may easily tell which cards are most crucial and which are less so.



The Process of Edge Sorting

When players see that the back of the cards has a different pattern on the left and right sides, they arrange them so that all the full diamonds are along one edge; these are the “important” cards, and the half diamonds along the same edge represent the “average” cards. Players seek to arrange the cards into groups so they can make decisions that put them at an advantage in the game, an advantage that will hold so long as the cards in the deck or shoe remain in the same configuration.


Baccarat Sorting on the Edge

In Baccarat, for instance, cards 6, 7, 8, and 9 are pivotal. Now, the player can put his money on the ‘player hand’ or the ‘banker hand’ if he is certain that the first card dealt or to be dealt is from this set of four cards. The 6.76 percent advantage against the house that can be gained by edge sorting is more than enough to swing the odds in the player’s favor. Learn the rules of Baccarat completely here.


The Strategy of Blackjack with an Edge Count

Similarly, in Blackjack, if a player edge sorts, they may learn crucial information about the dealer’s hole card or the up-coming card from the top of the deck. Players may also be able to guess the card that will be given to them in the next round of play. A player can have an edge of more than 18% over the house if he has inside information that the first card is an ace or a 10 value card. In this scenario, the player has a decent chance of winning their bet. If he sits at first base, he may see the cards and use that knowledge to make an informed first bet, which will give him an advantage in the game. As you can see, edge sorting can be a great tool for gamers looking to level up their game. A ‘turn’ in the shuffling process, however, can render edge sorting useless. A ‘turn’ occurs when the cards are dealt face down into two piles and then one of the piles is rotated 180 degrees.  Now, if you give one stack of cards a 180-degree spin, you can throw off the players’ ability to sort by edge and reshuffle the deck. When the edges become confused, the player loses his or her entire fabricated pattern. As a result, being thrown back into the mix can be seen as the final nail in the coffin of edge sorting.



How to Perform an Appropriate Edge Sort

To begin, there must be an easily discernible asymmetrical repetitive design on the back of each card.

In order for edge sorting to be effective, the back of some of the cards must be visible before any choice is made in the game.

For edge sorting to be effective, the playing and dealing in procedures must be constant enough that the edges of the cards are not damaged even when the cards are collected back from the players and used to sort the deck for the following round.

The order in which the shuffling is performed must be such that it does not involve a turn, that is, a turn of 180 degrees, which would throw off the entire pattern.

The order of cards in the deck or shoe shall not be altered by anybody other than the dealer and the players.

The most crucial part is that the local personnel and surveillance won’t know anything about this technique.

Because of the similarities between edge sorting and card marking, both of which are unlawful, the two are sometimes confused for one another. Cards are not marked by the edge sorters. They merely exploit weaknesses in the designs or manufacturing of some businesses’ cards. In a nutshell, edge sorters employ card equipment to flip the tables on casinos and earn a profit without raising suspicion. Although it may be argued that card producers are to blame because it is they who either accidentally mark the cards or fail to trim them in symmetrical patterns. Even though the law has changed, casinos can still file lawsuits against players they suspect of edge sorting. Nonetheless, it is still a tempting option for the shrewd gambler.

What Came Before Edge Sorting

It has been around for the better part of two decades, but only a select few were aware of it until it made its way into casinos in 2012. It’s now common knowledge all around the world.  In 2012, the case of edge sorting reemerged when Phil Ivey stole $12 million from Croakfords and $10 million from Borgata. Phil is a well-known gambler who, after a particularly large win, admitted to engaging in edge sorting. Phil was hit with a hefty punishment and had around 80% of his gaming winnings taken back by Croakfords.



After Ivey won almost $10 million at the Borgata casino, surveillance footage revealed that he requested the same deck of cards be used for the following night’s game. He also requested a machine that would shuffle the cards without making a ‘turn’ automatically. Before returning the cards to the deck or shoe for the next round, he and his companion asked that the dealer turn them 180 degrees. Superstition was his partner’s go-to descriptor for everything they did together. The casino soon discovered that the cheaters were engaging in a practice known as “edge sorting.” The Borgata casino was already planning to sue Phil at that point.


Present Problems

Edge sorting should be avoided at all costs due to the serious risks it poses to a player. Casinos and card manufacturers can take preventative measures to lessen the likelihood of this happening. To the players, who are edge sorters, all they have to do is look at the backs of the cards to know that they are keen observers. The card companies themselves are to blame.


The Way Out of This Predicament

Manufacturers and businesses should straighten up and start making cards with repeated symmetrical patterns instead of ones that have things like half diamonds or circles on one edge and full diamonds or circles on the other edge, or beaches that aren’t perfectly even on both sides, or a different number of diamonds or circles on the top and bottom edges. If this is implemented, then casinos will be free of edge sorting and players would be able to play on an even playing field.

The card manufacturers can also add a white or black border around the card patterns on the reverse of the cards, which is something several have started doing already. This is done to prevent the sophisticated method of edge sorting. Improper card cutting can also result in defects in the card pattern, therefore it’s important that all of the cards are cut in the same way and with the same symmetry. If an effort is made to avoid edge sorting, the printing and cutting processes must be flawless.



In order to prevent edge sorting, casinos must ensure that a ‘turn’ is given during the shuffle operation before each hand of every game, regardless of whether the pattern on the back of the cards is symmetrical or not. If a mechanical shuffler is utilized, a turn must be introduced by hand during the shuffling process. This will entirely counteract any edge-sorting strategy the players may employ. As a further precaution against cheating, casinos are required by law to throw away each player’s deck of cards after each hand is played.


This procedure was not followed in the instance of Phil Ivey. He had broken the casino’s rules by asking for the same deck to be used for the following night’s game. However, the dealer complied with Phil’s request and did not shred the deck because Phil is a well-known player who consistently wagers large sums. He made $10,000,000 by strategically employing the edge-sorting approach. Remembering this recent high-profile casino case reinforces the need of not engaging in edge sorting, no matter how alluring it may seem. In addition, casinos are also taking extra precautions with card back patterns and cutting procedures, mirroring the vigilance of card manufacturers.