Continuous shuffling machines are a mainstay in the casino game of Blackjack, where one of the basic components contributing to your outcome is luck of the draw. Shuffling of cards is a natural accompanying factor affecting both the odds of the players to win and the house advantage.
Whilst this factor used to vary quite significantly dependent on the shuffler of a game, with the advancements in technology that have filtered through to the gambling community, new methods to shuffle cards have emerged, enabling a fairer game wherever played and most casinos will not manually shuffle cards. Rather they will use machines which are called ‘continuous shuffling machines.’
Understanding the Shuffling Machine
Shuffling machines are used in casinos across the world to create a more efficient randomisation of cards for any game in comparison to shuffling manually. During its creation, different variations of the shuffling machine have emerged, including automatic shufflers and branching off from this – the continuous shuffling machine (CSM).
The continuous shuffling machine facilitates a type of automated shuffling used by most, if not all, casinos in an attempt to stop card counting in games. Continuous shuffling machines work by randomising the deck of cards, thereby allowing the game to be played at a quicker rate, (not having to wait for the dealer to shuffle and deal), whilst providing a fairer game through a more thorough, entirely objective shuffling system.
How Continuous Shuffling Machines Work
Typically, five decks of cards are placed into a CSM, with the machine throwing out and putting back in cards from each deck at random. The shuffling, as the name suggests, is going on continuously, with cards already used in the game having the chance to show up in subsequent hands. This means any and all attempts of card counting is by default less successful than games with a traditionally shuffled deck of cards.
The original continuous shuffling machine uses an elevator-type system in which a shuffler will insert cards into the device’s shelves at random as the machine moves up and down. The Shuffle Master then randomly picks a deck for the game and places it into the dealing shoe. There are numerous different types of CSM, all providing a casino game with an effective, thoroughly random shuffle.
How Continuous Shuffling Machines Affect Player Strategies
Whilst playing a game of Blackjack that involves a CSM, there are a few things to consider in order to develop an effective gaming strategy, and to further yield the best possible outcome:
- Cards that have been used are placed back in the deck at random throughout the game. Therefore, counting cards throughout a game with a CSM will be less likely to work, if not impossible altogether
- Apart from card counting, games involving CSM will not change other basic Blackjack strategies, as these are almost always concerning elements of the game outside the shuffling of a deck
- Shuffle tracking could possibly be done if the CSM is integrating cards already used in the game back into the dealing shoe. Through this, players may be able to predict what cards are likely to be grouped together
- In a game of Blackjack with a CSM, the distribution of cards used is weighted in favour of the larger cards
- The fewer the decks of cards a CSM is set up for, the better the advantage for the player
Consideration of the above factors can help a player significantly whilst working out how to get the best possible outcome during a game that uses a continuous shuffling machine.
Can Continuous Shuffling Machines be Beaten in Casinos?
It has been claimed that Blackjack is the only game players can learn to beat regularly. Those that learn basic strategy techniques are much more likely to win a game, and typically, with experience under their belt, move on to card counting to further increase their chances of winning.
Although since the implementation of continuous shuffling machines within most casinos has drastically restricted the lengths to which card counters can go in a game, there are still various things that can be done to put an advanced player’s skill set to good use!
There are many different types and models of continuous shuffle machines, one of which is made by leading manufacturer Shuffle Master and is the One 2 Six Machine.
The One 2 Six type of shuffler, similar to most of the basic layouts of continuous shuffling machines, has cards inserted into it at random and throughout the duration of the game, and then presents a predetermined, thoroughly shuffled, number of cards into the dealing shoe for use in the game.
Although players cannot know the exact cards distributed, what can be determined is that the cards in the game will not be dealt for a few hands. Therefore, this provides players with a move accurate guess as to what will be in this new pack of cards by filtering through what is least likely to be in it.
However, each type of continuous shuffling machine will slightly vary in its techniques, being able to hold different amounts of decks within the shuffling process. The higher the amount of decks involved in the shuffling machine, the harder it is to estimate what is in the deck and therefore the lower the advantage for the player.
Shuffling When Playing at Online Casinos
When playing Blackjack at an online casino, determining what shuffling technique is being used is a bit more difficult as simulations and algorithms are used for the most part.
Therefore, to help guess what type of shuffling technique is used and adapt player strategy accordingly, here’s what to bear in mind with online casinos:
- They often use a random simulation program in its shuffling technique to avoid bias
- Shuffling is typically done after every hand
- If you see the same card twice in a game, the casino is not using traditional methods, and rather is much more likely to be using CSM-styled shuffling
Therefore, although continuous shuffling machines may have made it harder for the more experienced Blackjack player to win, there are however still some ways to beat the system; adapting player strategy towards beating the shuffler through a good knowledge on how your shuffling is done, and what this means for the hands dealt in a game.