Discount Gambling

Player Dragon Bonus Tracking Sheet

Posted in +EV, baccarat, dragon-bonus by stephenhow on October 5, 2011

I worked out a baccarat tracking sheet for counting the player dragon bonus available at my local Barona Casino. The tracking sheet simulates at +0.112 EV/shoe, gained from an average 3.9 bets/shoe. That means the count gets good enough to bet the player dragon about 3.9 times per shoe (4.8% of the time), and you’ll profit a total of 11.2% of a fixed bet, per shoe. So, if you’re betting the max $300 per dragon, you’ll make about $33.60/shoe, on average.

That’s not bad, since you’re allowed (encouraged, actually) to use tracking sheets while sitting at the Rapid Baccarat terminals. The player dragon has payouts ranging from 30-to-1 down to 1-to-1 and pushes, so you’ll win something about 30% of the time. This is much better than waiting for a 40-to-1 payout on an infrequent $100 dragon-7 bet.

The tracking sheet below helps you maintain the running count (RC) for each hand of the shoe, and lists the required minimum RC for betting the player dragon on any given hand:

You’ll see the minimum betting RCs decrease as more hands are played. Typically, you’ll probably only be able to bet the dragon for the last 8 hands of the shoe, if at all. Welcome to the world of baccarat.


Use the following count values for each card:

Player Dragon Count Values
Card Count Value
Ace 1
Deuce 2
Trey 2
Four 1
Five 1
Six 0 (ignore)
Seven -1
Eight -1
Nine -1
Face/Ten -1

The dealer pulls the first card out of the shoe, and turns it face up. Start the running count with the count value of the card. The following unseen burn cards do not affect the RC or the bet thresholds.

Make sure you only use this sheet for betting the player dragon bet (1-1 for natural player win, push for natural player tie, else 30-1 for player win by 9 points, 10-1 for win by 8 points, 6-1 for win by 7 points, 4-1 for win by 6 points, 2-1 for win by 5 points, 1-1 for win by 4 points, lose all others).

For each hand dealt, add up the count values of each card to get the count for the hand. Notice that 2’s and 3’s are +2, then “high cards” (7,8,9,10) are -1, and “low cards” (1,4,5) are +1. Write down the count for the hand in the sub-box, and add it to the running count (RC). Write the new RC value in the box.

If the new RC is greater or equal to the number printed in the next hand’s box, then bet the dragon. That’s it.


You’re at the start of the shoe. The dealer pulls out a 7, and burns seven cards. Start the running count at -1.

The first hand dealt is player (10,9) and banker (4,5). There are no 2’s or 3’s in the hand. The two high cards cancel out the two low cards, so the count for the hand is 0. The running count remains at -1, and write it in the box.

The next hand dealt is player (1,2) and banker (8,10). The count value of the hand is 1+2-1-1 = +1. Write the new RC of 0 into the box. The RC is less than 56, so don’t bet the player dragon the next hand.

The next hand dealt is player (3,1,5) and banker (4,10,5). The count value of the hand is 2+1+1+1-1+1 = +5. Update the running count by +5, and write the new RC of 5 in the box. The RC is less than 55, so don’t bet the player dragon the next hand.

22 Responses

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  1. Gambler_guy said, on October 5, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Hi, again! I noticed that Baccarat table where I play has this Dragon bet but they burn 10 cards at the beginning (one visible) and they also burn one card before every hand. So assuming 80 hands per shoe, they would burn about 90 cards per shoe.

    Isn’t burning a card mathematically the same as moving the cut card forward by one card? So the penetration here would be only around 6 decks out of 8. Does this make the dragon bet uncountable?


    • stephenhow said, on October 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

      They burn a card before every hand?! That’s crazy! Do they do that everywhere in Europe? Aiyah! Yep, that ruins the dragon counting. As you pointed out, burn cards are essentially a reduction in shoe penetration. That’s how I handled the burn cards at the start of the shoe. I place the cut card at the end of the shoe, in front of 16+1+(first burn card value) cards. Once the cut card comes out, I finish the hand, then play one more hand in the shoe before shuffling.

      That’s too bad about your casino’s burn procedures. Well, teach them a lesson at Oasis πŸ™‚


  2. Paul Zak said, on October 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Count values table above seems to have a typo on Card 5. It shows value -1, but in your exapmples you count it as +1. Which is correct?

    • stephenhow said, on October 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks for catching the typo. The count value for a Five card should be +1. I’ll fix it when I get home. I’m at Barona right now πŸ™‚

  3. Paul Zak said, on October 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Why there is no One card value in the table? And shouldn’t Ace be counted as Face card?.

    • stephenhow said, on October 11, 2011 at 10:32 am

      “Ace” is a “One” card. Faces are Zeros.

  4. Paul Zak said, on October 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    where do you get the data to calculate profit (11.2% as per description above) of a fixed bet per shoe?

    • stephenhow said, on October 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      The profit rate is determined by simulation of the tracking sheet. You’re not actually thinking of trying to grind out a profit from this, are you?

  5. James said, on November 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    stephenhow, could you please add the graph EV vs True Count for Dragon Bonus ?

    you stated that above analysis is for Dragon bonus(on PLAYER hand ).

    How about Dragon bonus side bet (on BANKER hand) ? House edge higher ?

  6. James said, on November 4, 2011 at 4:43 am

    I am running my simulation for Player Dragon Bonus side bet, in order to verify/compare my results, could you please let me know the parameters you are using for your Player Dragon Bonus simulation :-

    a) No of deck

    b) Penetration/location of cut card

    c) Initial burn card procedure at the beginning of the shoe

    d) Dealt card procedure, any burn after each round ?

    e) Are you using the above same parameters for simulation of Panda 8, and Dragon 7 ?


    Would you mind to email me your simulation input data/results for all Player Dragon Bonus, Dragon 7 and Panda 8 ?

    email :


    • stephenhow said, on November 4, 2011 at 9:06 am


      My simulations and analysis are for a) 8-decks; b) 15 cards behind the cut card; c) dealer exposes first burn card from shoe, then burns a number of cards equal to the exposed burn card value; d) deal to player, banker, player, banker, possible player draw, possible banker draw, no burn between hands; e) same procedure used for all analysis and simulation.

      I’ll email you.

      • James said, on November 4, 2011 at 10:38 am


        Thanks for your reply. Here is another baccarat side bet found at local casino here.

        Normal baccarat rules.

        a) if total number of cards dealt per round =4, then it call “SMALL” and the payout is 1.5 to 1. House edge = 5.283%

        b) if total number of card per round = 5 or 6, then it call “BIG” and the payout is 0.54 to 1. House edge = 4.346%

        I have estimated the count tag/value for each card :-

        1 ——– +2
        2 ——– +2
        3 ——– +2
        4 ——– +2
        5 ——– +2
        6 ——– 0
        7 ——– 0
        8 ——– -9
        9 ——– -9
        10 ——– +2

        When TC < -6, bet on "BIG".

        I hope you can give your comments on the count tag/value for each card type.

      • James said, on November 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

        my email :

  7. James said, on November 6, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    hi, stephenhow

    My Player Dragon Bonus simulation shown :-

    Bet when TC > 7
    Player’s edge = 5.5%, Variance : 6.75, Bet frequency = 4%

    In order to verify my results, do you mind to email me your simulation input data/results for all Player Dragon Bonus, Dragon 7 and Panda 8 ?

    my email :


  8. Z said, on May 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Hi there,

    A lot of local casinos I’ve been to offer this side bet on their mini-baccarat tables. However, the majority use a 6-deck shoe as opposed to an 8-deck shoe. How does this change the necessary running count for making the player dragon bonus bet? Also, the dealers usually place the cut card only six cards from the end of the shoe as opposed to fifteen, does this slight increase in deck penetration pose a significant advantage to the counter?

    – Z

    • stephenhow said, on May 16, 2012 at 2:28 am

      If they place only 6 cards behind the cut card in a 6-deck shoe, the count yields about 6.3 betting opportunities per shoe, with an average advantage of 2.1%/bet. This is better than the 8-deck shoe game with 14 cards behind the cut, but it still doesn’t seem worth the effort. You should use the same count scheme, but with a true count threshold of 5. If you want the runningCount vs. hand # threshold, I’ll email it to you.

      • Z said, on May 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm


        I don’t seem to understand what you mean by “it doesn’t seem worth the effort”. If a six-deck game with better penetration is offered at a casino that is very close by to where I live, I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to play that game as opposed to the eight-deck game.

        And yes, if you could e-mail me the running count vs. hand # values for a six-deck shoe with greater penetration as I described, I will be extremely grateful πŸ™‚

        I had another thought, since in baccarat, it would be easy to keep track of the exact number of cards dealt from the shoe, would it more profitable to calculate the true count based on the number of cards dealt, or is it more practical to just go by your running count vs. hand # sheets?

        Please understand I’m not some gambling fanatic bent on grinding a profit from casino hustling, I am merely very fascinated with your work in determining possible +EV situations from games that are generally considered unbeatable. For that, I salute you πŸ™‚

        – Z

      • stephenhow said, on May 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm


        I sent you the minRC’s for the 6-deck shoe game. I’ve tried counting the Dragon 7, but they play the game sooooo slow, it’s painful. That’s what I mean by “not worth the effort”. But, you may find the Player Dragon a little more fun, because it pays a lot more often than the Dragon 7. Good job on identifying the N-6 card shoe penetration. I guess a lot of people would find a 10% frequency +2.2% EV bet that’s totally Wongable (only bet +EV hands) and countable with pen and paper pretty good πŸ™‚


  9. felix said, on May 29, 2012 at 6:24 am

    why is this bet specifically favored to the the player side only? when the A,2,3,4,5 cards are out leaving only few of those left in the shoe, the 7,8,9 cards on the third draw on the player side can significantly reduce the score of the player therefore leaving the banker in advantage to reap the dragon bonus. I think it would be safe if i place the side bets on both sides, having a second helper, of course, to bet the opposite of what im betting when the count is above the RC min. What do you thiink?

    • stephenhow said, on May 29, 2012 at 9:29 am

      The banker dragon has a significantly higher house edge, and a separate count. It is not as countable as the player dragon, and not worth counting (as I remember). I think the asymmetry just results from the nature of the game, and from using the same pay table for both bets.

  10. ftl said, on October 1, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Well, I STILL don’t have the the crucial answer to this system that I am looking for.

    Looking at the table that Eliot Jacobson created for this game, he specifically fails to indicate what value a face card would be. If you look at his published table, it only has the symbol “T” as counting for -1. Now does that mean that the ten card is minus one, and face cards are zero? Or does that he mean that when he put “T” that it should be naturally inferred that he meant the ten card, AND ALL FACE CARDS, are -1?

    I THOUGHT I had the answer to this when I initially looked at your chart for the Baccarat Dragon-7 game. In it, you (thankfully) indicate “Face/Ten 0 (ignore)”. Thank you. That’s how it should be, totally spelled out and clear..

    Unfortunately, you then muddle it up beyond all comprehension in your chart for THIS game (Player Dragon Bonus), which is the only one I am in fact interested in. What I mean by “muddling up” is as follows. Your chart itself *appears* to be clear (read on), in that it clearly states “Face/Ten -1”. I say appears because this is a jarring change from the Baccarat Dragon-7 game, where, as stated above, they are zero.

    Worse, in your reply to Paul Zak, above, you state “β€œAce” is a β€œOne” card. Faces are Zeros” (not only is this the opposite from your own chart, but, additionally, you only address the value of the “faces” and not the ten cards).

    What a f***** cluster. Please state unequivocally what the value of the ten cards and the face cards should be in counting this game.

  11. Nathan said, on August 11, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Hey Stephen, if you get the time, could you run a simulation for an 8 deck shoe, cut card placed one deck from the back, burn card exposed, with a number of FACE-UP burns equal to the initial burn card? At first I figured since the cut card is so deep there would hardly ever be any opportunities to bet, but with all the burns being face up, I can get a more accurate count at the start. Doubt the burns make up for the cut location, but I’m still curious nonetheless.

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