Edge sorting is an advanced technique which can give you a real advantage over the house. Read on to learn how to edge sort in casino games and how Phil Ivey won millions using edge sorting.

Online casino players are always looking for a way to gain an advantage to beat the house. While not necessarily cheating, there are several ways that players can utilise their keen gambling senses and skills to their advantage and win real money at a casino in Australia. While almost all online gambling fans have heard of card counting, a useful technique for those who play blackjack online, fewer people have heard of edge sorting.

Did you know that edge sorting can give players an advantage over the house of up to 6%? American poker legend Phil Ivey demonstrated this back in 2012 when he won over $20 million US dollars by playing baccarat while utilising edge sorting.

With such a clear opportunity for success, why are more players not practising edge sorting? Let’s take a look at what exactly edge sorting is, how you can edge sort, and whether or not it can be considered cheating.

What is Edge Sorting?

Edge sorting is a technique by which players exploit imperfections in playing cards to identify specific cards in a deck.

Although you might think that all playing cards are perfectly symmetrical, many decks utilised by casinos around the world actually feature subtle imperfections in their printing. This may mean that the pattern on the back of the cards, such as circles or diamonds, may be different on the left and right hand sides of each card in a given deck. Eagle-eyed gamblers are able to discern these differences and this is the basis for edge sorting.

The fact that decks have these printing imperfections is only half the story. If low and high value cards both have this imperfection, there’s no advantage to be gained. That’s where the sorting comes in. Players can persuade the dealer to rotate specific cards, normally higher value cards, in order to arrange the cards in the shoe in such a way that you can tell the higher value cards apart.

In order for edge sorting to be successful, several factors need to work in the player’s favour. The dealer must agree to the player’s request to rotate the cards, the same deck must be used throughout the game, the cards cannot be rotated during shuffling, and the playing cards in the deck must have this printing imperfection.

If all these conditions are met, there is the real potential for a player to absolutely clean up at the casino.

How did Phil Ivey use Edge Sorting?

The most famous use of edge sorting was that of American poker legend, Phil Ivey. A ten-time WSOP bracelet winner and one of the best poker players of all-time, Ivey hit the headlines in 2012 after utilising edge sorting at casinos in the USA and UK.

Ivey won over £7 million at Crockford’s in London and $9.6 million at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, playing Punto Banco baccarat. But how did he do it?

As one of the highest-profile poker players in the world, Ivey was able to utilise his status as a high roller to get the casinos to agree to certain conditions for his massive baccarat sessions under the guise of ‘superstition’:

  • The casinos utilised a specific deck of cards (which featured a printing imperfection),
  • The dealer rotated all the sevens through nines 180 degrees (these are the cards with the highest value in baccarat),
  • The same deck was used throughout the entire game session,
  • An automatic card shuffler was used.

By meeting these conditions, the casinos inadvertently provided Ivey with the perfection conditions for edge sorting. As a result, Ivey won millions but the British casino was suspicious and refused to pay out. They only returned his £1 million deposit as the casino argued that Ivey was cheating. Ivey disputed this allegation and freely admitted that he was utilising edge sorting.

This controversy ended up in legal battles in both the UK and New Jersey. The British courts have consistently found that edge sorting amounted to cheating because it influences the way in which the game was conducted. By influencing the croupier into rotating certain cards, the British Supreme Court maintained that Ivey’s actions had the intention to “fix the deck” and was therefore considered to be cheating.

Although edge sorting was a little heard of technique before Phil Ivey walked out of Crockford’s, nowadays casinos are more aware of this advantage play technique.

How do you Edge Sort in Blackjack?

Edge sorting in blackjack essentially follows the same technique that Phil Ivey used when playing baccarat. In order to edge sort in blackjack, you would need to find a casino which would agree to rotate the cards in order to sort the deck.

What is Edge Sorting in Poker?

Edge sorting could theoretically work in poker online, but practically it is unlikely to work. Not only would you have to convince the dealer to rotate the specific cards, but you would have to get the other players not to rotate or bend the cards. Realistically speaking, edge sorting does not work in poker.

Is Edge Sorting Only for Rich Gamblers?

Theoretically, edge sorting can provide an advantage to both the high roller and lower stakes punters. Successful edge sorting can give the player a pretty solid advantage over the house. Practically speaking, however, casinos are more likely to agree to the specific conditions necessary for edge sorting when you are a high roller.

Phil Ivey was betting £150,000 a hand, which was about $225,000 back in 2012, so it’s little wonder that the casino was willing to agree to his conditions. Casinos might not agree to your conditions if you’re playing for low stakes, so take that into consideration.

Can I use Edge Sorting online?

No, you can’t utilise edge sorting when playing online casino games. The imperfections in the printed cards simply doesn’t exist in the world of online casinos. Furthermore, the safe and secure software used by online casinos will not allow you to influence the cards in any way, such as by rotating the cards.

Is Edge Sorting Cheating?

Whether or not edge sorting is actually cheating is a contentious question. Many observers of the Ivey case maintained that he merely exploited an aspect of the game by using an advanced, advantage play technique. That, because the croupier and the casino agreed to his conditions, he was not cheating but exploiting this technique.

The courts, however, did come to the conclusion that edge sorting was cheating. The British Supreme Court held that, by influencing the conditions of the game, Ivey in effect “fixed the deck”. The fact that the American courts followed suit with the findings of the British court would seem to suggest that edge sorting at Australian casinos would also be treated as an attempt to cheat.

While there is still debate about whether edge sorting is cheating, you will probably be hard-pressed to find a casino nowadays in which you can do it. Due to the high-profile nature of the case, casinos are now wise to this technique.

Is Edge Sorting Illegal?

You won’t go to jail for edge sorting at a casino in Australia, but don’t expect the casino to pay out if you are caught edge sorting. As the courts in the UK and US have equated this technique to cheating, we’d expect legal Australian casinos and courts to take a dim view of any punters attempting this.

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Matthew Vanzetti

Pokie Professor & Casino Expert

Matthew Vanzetti is the go-to expert on pokies at Gamble Online Australia, bringing years of firsthand experience from Melbourne’s casino floors to his engaging articles. His expertise covers everything from traditional slot machines to modern jackpots, providing readers with practical insights and tips to enhance their gaming experience.

Matthew’s passion and detailed knowledge make his writings essential for anyone interested in the thrilling world of pokies.

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