Last Updated: July 22, 2017
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Baccarat is a game steeped in superstition. The vast majority of players keep careful track of the shoe history, either on paper or with the aid of screens that show every hand since the shoe began. There are various ways of recording this information. The companies that market the screens that display the shoe history present it in various ways, according to the most popular methods of trying to define patterns.
Before going further, let me give my usual comment on notation. When referring to an actual bet, I use capital letters. When referring to the player playing the game, I use lower case. I invite the rest of the world to follow this convention, to help avoid confusion.
For those who don't know me, let me take a moment to say that all this effort at trying to predict the next hand is a waste of time. For all practical purposes, the odds are the same for every hand, and the past history does not matter. Now before the perfectionists out there write to me, yes, I know if you had the use of a computer, a card counter could make computer-perfect decisions according to the composition of the remaining cards, which would very rarely result in an advantage on some bets. However, that is not what I'm talking about it. I'm saying that trying to find a pattern in past Player and Banker wins is as useless as predicting the next color in roulette (on a fair wheel) according to past reds and blacks.
Although I personally don't play baccarat, I have wondered for years about some of the tables in those displays of the shoe history. The staff at the Venetian has been very helpful in helping me understand, so that I may enlighten the rest of the world. So, with the introductions out of the way, let's get started. Here is a picture of a typical sign, seen at the Venetian. There are various components of display, which I will address individually.
This section above is called the "bead plate." It used to be that players could buy a tray with cubes with sides noting Player, Banker, and Tie wins. Wins are recorded as follows:
- Blue = Player win
- Red = Banker win
- Green = Tie win
The player starts in the upper left hand corner and makes his way down. When he reaches the bottom row, he moves over one column to the right and back to the top row.
Much like in the Bead Plate, the player starts in the upper left, as well as marking Player wins in blue, and Banker wins in red. However, instead of a solid circle, with a Chinese character in the middle, the Big Road has only the blue and red outlines of circles.
Unlike the Bead Plate, in the Big Road the player starts at the top of a new column with each change in Player and Banker winning. Note the grid is six rows deep. In the event there are seven or more consecutive Player or Banker wins, the results will move to the right, creating what is known as a dragon tail. In this example that never happens, as there was never more than four consecutive wins on the same side.
Big Eye Boy
With the next table, it is no longer so obvious what is going on, and it is here where I started to need help. As mentioned before, baccarat players are a very superstitious bunch. While the strategies they use to find patterns can be a complicated topic, one basic truth is they like predictability and repeating patterns. For example, if the last 12 hands were BBBPPPBBBPPP, I would bet that everybody at the table would bet on the Banker the next hand. Note how wins happen in groups of three. The Big Eye Boy table is useful in gauging how repetitive the shoe is. Red entries are a sign of repetition, and blue entries are a sign of a chaotic, "choppy" shoe. It is important to note that in the Big Eye Boy table, blue and red are not associated with Player and Banker wins, as they are on the previous two tables.
The first entry in the Big Eye Boy table is the hand after the first entry in the second column of the Big Road, so that there is enough information to judge if a pattern is developing or not. Here is where the air starts to get thin, so pay attention. Every entry in the Big Eye Boy table, as well as the next two tables, will refer to a specific entry in the Big Road. Each entry in the Big Eye Boy is recorded as follows:
- If the hand in question causes a new column in the Big Road, then compare the previous two columns in the Big Road. If they are the same in depth, then record a red circle in the Big Eye Boy. If they are not, then record a blue circle.
- If the hand in question is the same outcome as the previous hand (skipping ties), then compare the cell to the left of the newly created entry in the Big Road with the cell directly above that one. If these two cells are the same, whether both Player, both Banker, or both blank; then mark a red in the Big Eye Boy. Otherwise, mark a blue.
In other words, consider the latest entry in the Big Road. Then, move one cell to the left. Then, move up. If the move up does not result in a change, mark red, if it does, mark blue.
In the event the Big Road forms a dragon tail, for purposes of the Big Eye Boy as well as the Small Road and Cockroach Pig, assume that the Big Road is infinitely deep, and ask yourself what would have happened under that assumption.
Note that if the Big Road consisted entirely of an alternating pattern of x Player wins with x Banker wins, then the Big Eye Boy would be entirely red.
To help with this part, I explain below every entry in the Big Eye Boy table that follows. I put the results in Excel so you could refer to the exact points in the grid I'm referring to.
For example, the first entry shows cell A1 on the Big Eye Boy table. This corresponds to the same hand represented in cell C1 of the Big Road table. Since cell C1 is the beginning of a new column, we check if the previous two columns are equal in length. They are, so we color the Big Eye Boy red for cell A1.
Big Eye Boy
Big Eye Boy — Play by Play
|Big Eye Boy Cell||Big Road Cell||Color||Reason|
|A1||C1||Red||Columns A and B equal in length|
|B1||C2||Blue||B1 and B2 don't match|
|B2||D1||Blue||Columns B and C unequal in length|
|B3||E1||Blue||Columns C and D unequal in length|
|B4||E2||Blue||D1 and D2 don't match|
|C1||E3||Red||D2 and D3 match|
|C2||E4||Red||D3 and D4 match|
|D1||F1||Blue||Columns D and E unequal in length|
|D2||G1||Blue||Columns E and F unequal in length|
|E1||HI||Red||Columns F and G equal in length|
|E2||I1||Red||Columns G and H equal in length|
|F1||I2||Blue||H1 and H2 don't match|
|F2||J1||Blue||Columns H and I unequal in length|
|G1||J2||Red||I1 and I2 match|
|H1||J3||Blue||I2 and I3 don't match|
|H2||K1||Blue||Columns I and J unequal in length|
|I1||K2||Red||J1 and J2 match|
|I2||K3||Red||J2 and J3 match|
|I3||L1||Red||Columns J and K equal in length|
|I4||L2||Red||K1 and K2 match|
|J1||M1||Blue||Columns K and L unequal in length|
|J2||N1||Blue||Columns L and M unequal in length|
|J3||N2||Blue||M1 and M2 don't match|
|K1||N3||Red||M2 and M3 match|
|L1||O1||Blue||Columns M and N unequal in length|
|M1||O2||Red||N1 and N2 match|
|N1||P1||Blue||Columns N and O unequal in length|
|O1||P2||Red||O1 and O2 equal|
|O2||Q1||Red||Columns O and P equal in length|
|P1||R1||Blue||Columns P and Q unequal in length|
|Q1||S1||Red||Columns Q and R equal in length|
|R1||S2||Blue||R1 and R2 don't match|
|S1||S3||Red||R2 and R3 match|
|T1||T1||Blue||Columns R and S unequal in length|
|U1||T2||Red||S1 and S2 match|
|U2||T3||Red||S2 and S3 match|
|U3||U1||Red||Columns S and T equal in length|
|U4||U2||Red||T1 and T2 match|
|V1||V1||Red||Columns T and U equal in length|
|W1||V2||Red||U1 and U2 match|
|W2||W1||Blue||Columns U and V unequal in length|
|X1||X1||Blue||Columns V and W unequal in length|
|Y1||Y1||Red||Columns W and X equal in length|
|Z1||Y2||Blue||X1 and X2 don't match|
|AA1||Y3||Red||X2 and X3 match|
|AB1||Z1||Blue||Columns X and Y unequal in length|
|AB2||AA1||Blue||Columns Y and Z unequal in length|
|AB3||AA2||Blue||AA1 and AA2 don't match|
|AB4||AB1||Blue||Columns Z and AA unequal in length|
|AB5||AC1||Blue||Columns AA and AB unequal in length|
|AB6||AC2||Blue||AB1 and AB2 don't match|
|AC1||AC3||Red||AB2 and AB3 match|
|AD1||AD1||Blue||Columns AB and AC unequal in length|
|AD2||AE1||Blue||Columns AC and AD unequal in length|
|AD3||AE2||Blue||AD1 and AD2 don't match|
|AE1||AE3||Red||AD2 and AD3 match|
|AE2||AE4||Red||AD3 and AD4 match|
|AF1||AF1||Blue||Columns AD and AE unequal in length|
|AF2||AG1||Blue||Columns AE and AF unequal in length|
|AG1||AH1||Red||Columns AF and AG equal in length|
|AG2||AI1||Red||Columns AG and AH equal in length|
|AG3||AJ1||Red||Columns AH and AI equal in length|
|AH1||AJ2||Blue||AI1 and AI2 don't match|
|AI1||AJ3||Red||AI2 and AI3 match|
|AJ1||AK1||Blue||Columns AI and AJ unequal in length|
|AJ2||AL1||Blue||Columns AJ and AK unequal in length|
The next table, in the bottom left of the display, is the "Small Road." The Small Road works exactly like the Big Eye Boy, except it skips the column to the left of the current column in the Big Road. To have enough information to go on, the Small Road must wait until the entry after the first entry in the third column of the Big Road. Here is exactly how the Small Road is recorded.
- If the hand in question causes a new column in the Big Road, then compare the first and third columns to the left of the new column in the Big Road. If they are the same in depth, then record a red circle in the Small Road. If they are not, then record a blue circle.
- If the hand in question is the same outcome as the previous hand (skipping ties), then compare the cell two cells to the left of the newly created entry in the Big Road with the cell directly above that one. If these two cells are the same, whether both Player, both Banker, or both blank; then mark a red in the Small Road. Otherwise, mark a blue.
In other words, consider the latest entry in the Big Road. Then, move two cells to the left. Then, move up. If the move up does not result in a change, mark red, if it does, mark blue.
The Small Road in the sign pictured was too big to fit in the grid, so the first four columns dropped off. They would have been BBRRBR.
The next table, in the bottom right of the display, is "Cockroach Pig." The Cockroach works exactly like the Small Road, except it skips two columns to the left of the current column in the Big Road. To have enough information to go on, the Cockroach Pig must wait until the entry after the first entry in the fourth column of the Big Road. Here is exactly how the Cockroach Pig is recorded.
- If the hand in question causes a new column in the Big Road then compare the first and fourth columns to the left of the new column in the Big Road. If they are the same in depth, then record a red circle in the Cockroach Pig. If they are not, then record a blue circle.
- If the hand in question is the same outcome as the previous hand (skipping ties), then compare the cell three cells to the left of the newly created entry in the Big Road with the cell directly above that one. If these two cells are the same, whether both Player, both Banker, or both blank; then mark a red in the Cockroach Pig. Otherwise, mark a blue.
In other words, consider the latest entry in the Big Road. Then, move three cells to the left. Then, move up. If the move up does not result in a change, mark red, if it does, mark blue.
Finally, the above picture shows the upper right part of the display. The left part shows overall shoe statistics for how often each bet won. This is not a very realistic example, as I put in Player and Banker wins only, for purposes of example. The right part shows what will happen on the Big Eye Boy, Small Road, and Cockroach Pig according to whether the next hand is a Player or Banker win.
Fate in the cards: understanding baccarat trends (part 1) and (part 2) by by Andrew W Scott
Thanks to the friendly and helpful staff at the Venetian for suffering my many questions about this topic and letting me take pictures of their sign.