Thursday, July 09, 2009

New Blackjack Advantage Play Technique! "Sorting"

Over the past several months, several casinos in Northern Nevada have been subject to an advantage play attack of their blackjack games known as “sort” play. In order to take advantage of “sorts”, the advantage player must first find a casino that offers a hand dealt blackjack game where the players handle the dealt playing cards. Second, the advantage players need a casino that also uses playing cards that have a pattern back that covers the entire playing card. One particular brand of playing cards that has been attacked is the US Playing Card company’s “Aristocrat” brand. Any of the other manufactured brands with a full back pattern could be subject to sorts as well. Sorts are created when a card is not symmetrically cut during the deck’s printing process. All casino quality playing card decks are printed on 60 card sheets, and are cut from the sheet using a two-step process. This process, although done with an automatic cutting machine, is not perfectly symmetrical. The cut may result in all cards of that deck having a very slight pattern difference on the sides or ends. Since the cards are printed with a full back design of diamonds, gems, or intersecting lines, sometimes cut pattern differences can be noticed by the trained eye. Although this is not common, it can happen. If the difference is too great, and the cut patterns can be read when sitting within several inches of the dealer held deck, the casino is open for a sort attack.

Sort play occurs when a group of players take over the entire table. After the cards are dealt, the team of players will position or turn their cards in a particular manner so one of the miss-cut pattern sides faces in the same direction when they slip their hand under the wagered chips. For example: the sort players may opt to position the ten value cards with all elongated diamonds on the back pattern facing to the right when the cards are positioned under the wagered chips. In this case, all non-ten value cards will be rotated 180 degrees in the opposite direction. The sort players will continue to keep turning the cards in the same manner throughout the dealing of the deck. Once the dealer shuffles the cards and begins to deal the next deck, the player will resume turning the cards until they have a majority of the playing cards positioned so they can be read to indicate the top card of the deck is either a ten or non-ten value card. In essence, the advantage player uses the miss-cut sort patterns to gain information just like a cheater uses marked cards.

How effective is blackjack sorting overall? It can be very effective when the right conditions are found, but I would not suggest it as a bread and butter advantage play weapon for advantage play teams. It serves best as an additional advantage play when you are already working your main advantage plays, such as card counting and ace-tracking.