Discount Gambling

Unbalanced Dragon 7 Count

Posted in +EV, baccarat, dragon-7 by stephenhow on October 24, 2012

If you’re ever at an EZ-Baccarat table wondering how to properly count the Dragon-7, here’s an easy-to-use unbalanced count that you won’t forget. Unbalanced counts are very handy, because their running counts (RC) approximate true counts, without any division. They’re a nice little trick that everyone should use. I modified the count from my Dragon-7 tracking sheet post into the unbalanced count below.

You simply start the count at -32 for a new shoe, then update the running count for each card dealt, including the exposed burn card. When the running count is > 0, bet the Dragon-7 side bet. This count scheme simulates at a profit rate of +52% of a fixed bet per 8-deck shoe, when 16 cards are placed behind the cut card. You’ll get about 6.8 betting opportunities per shoe.

Unbalanced Dragon-7 Count (Start at -32, bet when RC >= 0)
Card Rank Count Value
Ten/Face 0
Ace +1
Deuce 0
Trey 0
Four -1
Five -1
Six -1
Seven -1
Eight +2
Nine +2

The variance of the bet is very high, and unless you’re heads-up with the dealer, the hand rate is very slow. If you’re wondering if you can grind out a profit from the bet, look at the outcome distribution below for a 500 unit bankroll with a +1000 unit goal, else playing for 500 shoes. While the risk of ruin is only 3.5%, you still have a 24% chance of losing after 500 shoes. Your average win is +250 units. So, if you have a $50k bankroll, can find a heads-up EZ-Baccarat table with a $100 max Dragon-7 bet, are committed to playing for hundreds of hours, and don’t draw any suspicion from casino personnel, then you can win from $50 to $100 per hour, depending on how fast you play. It might be fun for the first hour or two, but only if you hit a dragon. Try playing my Dragon-7 shoe simulator before you head out to the casino.

29 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. jopke said, on October 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Is an unbalanced Panda count coming next? Might be worth it to do both…

  2. Nathan said, on October 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Does the graph represent the Dragon bets exclusively? Or does it also include the expected loss for betting banker every hand while waiting for the Dragon?

    • stephenhow said, on October 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      The outcome distribution is just for your dragon-7 bets, and does not include any minimum banker/player bet.

      • profbac said, on November 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

        Your analysis assumes the cut card is placed 16 cards from the back, and that yields 6.8 plus ev bets per shoe. How many of those plus ev bets occur in the last 52 cards of the shoe? 104 cards?
        It is very hard to find an EZ bac game that places the cut card less than 52 cards from the end.

      • stephenhow said, on February 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        I’m pretty sure all of the casinos and card rooms near San Diego offer a pretty good cut (worst-case is 1/4 deck behind the cut-card).

  3. Josh said, on January 21, 2013 at 4:24 am

    What is the N0 for this? (how many hands must be played for the EV to overcome one standard deviation in the negetive)

  4. the1 said, on February 8, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Ive been hitting Dragon 7 bets fairly frequently for a total of around 9,000 in two months. I have hit 5 dragons in one shoe and have jumped between 2 to 3 tables hitting dragons within minutes. I don’t count for it I just look for tables with a consecutive run of natural 8 and 9’s and then bet dragon.
    Am I just really lucky or is this a legitimate strategy?

    • the1 said, on February 8, 2013 at 5:58 am

      Love all the work you do with the games but I’m mathematically challenged so I try to dumb down the counting as much as possible. Plus its easier to explain to people at the tables.

    • Raymond said, on March 26, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Gamble is all about lucky buddy. No card counting or systems at all !!!

  5. johnalbanese said, on March 12, 2013 at 7:21 am

    It would be interesting to see the EV for all counts above zero.    How steeply does the EV increase at higher counts?

  6. chrisfoster said, on April 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

    So then the concensus is that it is better to play straight-up with the dealer if possible and thus bet the minimum on the banker until [+EV Dragon situation] arrives – because of vastly better speed, than to Wong a 2-3 hour shoe and only bet +EV Dragons, yes?

    Thanks BTW for your brilliant analyses and site.

  7. johnalbanese said, on May 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Just got back from Vegas. Didn’t really intend to go after this, as I’m primarily a blackjack hack. But when I saw an empty EZ Baccarat tables at the Palms I decided to go head to head. I counted both the Panda 8 and Dragon 7 (balanced count) in separate counts and only bet with true counts of +11 and +4 respectively. I hit the Panda 8 twice and Dragon 7 once. Betting $10 on each I made $900. Very impressive.

    • stephenhow said, on May 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Nice, that’s the way to do it! Needless to say, it’s impossible playing with others at this game.

  8. Kim Greenblatt said, on August 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Stephen, I found a few places that go to around 78 cards in their penetration. So, for scale, should I expect only 2 -3 bets a hand if I am lucky on average?

  9. Kim Greenblatt said, on August 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Sorry, that may not have made sense – the cut is about a deck and then they deal about 78 hands. Hope that clarifies what I was trying to ask.

  10. Raymond said, on March 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    How do you count the running count for the ez baccarat?

  11. Brenda Liu said, on April 24, 2016 at 6:49 am

    About the dragon 7 discount gambling. What if it is 6 deck? Do I need to start count at -32 or -24?

  12. John said, on May 23, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Im new to this whole card counting thing. Im wondering how come we start at -32. Im also really bad at math so take it easy on me please?

    • stephenhow said, on May 24, 2016 at 8:01 am

      Just because it makes it easier to know when to bet (count > 0). You can start at 0 if you want, then bet when (count > 32).

      • Lee k said, on February 4, 2017 at 12:47 pm

        Wh. To do if its a six deck shoe

  13. Adam Jenkins said, on April 24, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Why did the value of Ace change to +1 instead of being a 0 in your original post from a few years before this one?

  14. HC said, on July 27, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Hi! I was recently introduced to baccarat from a friend and looked up strategies before deciding to play again and read your dragon 7 count.  I went back to the casino and tried out this unbalanced version and it hit like a charm, easy $400! 

    In Dr. Eliot Jacobson’s original article, his “optimal” tags were:
    A: 0.5
    2: -0.9
    3: -1.08
    4: -2.68
    5: -2.63
    6: -3.24
    7: -3.58
    8: 5.4
    9: 4.8
    10, J, Q, K: 0.86

    I got curious and decided to multiply these tags by 2 and got these numbers:
    A: 1.0
    2: -1.8
    3: -2.16
    4: -5.36
    5: -5.26
    6: -6.48
    7: -7.16
    8: 10.8
    9: 9.6
    10, J, Q, K: 1.72

    After rounding they looked like this, which is quite unbalanced:
    A: 1
    2: -2
    3: -2
    4: -5
    5: -5
    6: -6
    7: -7
    8: 11
    9: 10
    10, J, Q, K: 2

    However, I did see a pattern that I thought could lead to a super simple unbalanced counting system.  To make it a “look and see” addition and subtraction game, we could just make the tags for #2-7 be their negative card value, 8&9=10, (10, J, Q, K=2), and A=0.
    A: 0
    2: -2
    3: -3
    4: -4
    5: -5
    6: -6
    7: -7
    8: 10
    9: 10
    10, J, Q, K: 2

    My question is, if we use these new unbalanced tags and start at a running count of 0, at what running count number will it be profitable to bet the Dragon 7? I would really like to understand the math behind getting to that profitable betting number.  Thank you.

    • Josh said, on September 17, 2021 at 7:28 am

      Less cards is simpler. -1 = 4,5,6,7 & +2 = 8,9 start running count -22
      I make a grid #12’s
      13 = min bet -4 max bet +4
      25 = min bet 0 max bet +8
      37 = min bet +4 max bet +12
      49 = min bet +4 max bet +12
      73 = min bet +4 max bet +12

  15. Phil said, on November 1, 2018 at 8:11 pm


    Am I supposed to bet when the count is exactly 0 ?


  16. Dylan W said, on April 1, 2019 at 4:56 am

    Why did the value of Ace change to +1 instead of being a 0 in your original post from a few years before this one?

    • Dido said, on September 14, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Im curious about this as well, havent found an actual answer…

    • Dido said, on September 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      wondering about this as well

    • Garrett Jones said, on October 31, 2021 at 1:14 am

      I think it’s to unbalance the count

  17. Ty Williams said, on November 23, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    I see in most forums that this count has an extremely high variance, making it unviable as a consistent money making career, without a massive bankroll.. has anyone found any articles on the necessary “estimated” bankroll for side betting this game?? casinos in Southern California also give unlimited free hands and let us sit out as much as wanted.. In addition, we can bet up to 200$ on dragon without wagering any “banker or player” bet in Southern California…but double the bankroll would be necessary and it’s already a high variance bet..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: