Are Shuffle Machines "Fair"?

6-Deck Card Shuffler
6-Deck Card Shuffler. Photo Courtesy (Nevada Casino History)

Ever wonder if the shuffle machines used in casinos are "fair" to the player? You aren't the only one! The paranoia starts with the shufflers used on games like Pai Gow, which momentarily hold the make-up of each hand so jackpots can be verified and the "house way" can be shown on a digital screen (if the casino wishes). You can relax a little because most shuffle machines have no optics.

Even so, every blackjack player has had a session on a shuffler where their hands seem to be all 12's and 16's.

That's annoying, expensive, and frustrating. But that happens on hand-shuffled, single deck games too. And, it's highly unlikely that yo will ever encounter a "cheating" shuffle machine in the US because the casinos don't need to cheat to win money and they won't risk losing their gaming license, just to win a little more.

And, to tell the truth, a continuous shuffler with five decks is actually better (odds wise) for the player than a 6-deck shoe game! Really.

Since blackjack can be beaten by playing well, following trends and by card counting, Many players shun continuous shufflers and play only pitch games and shoes where the odds actually change back and forth like the rolling waves of the ocean. And, if you are playing on a shuffle machine that spits out all the cards and the dealer puts'em in a shoe to deal - you should be seeing the usual mix of hands. However, if you play on a continuous shuffle machine where the cards are constantly put back in the machine and the cards are always coming out of a "fresh" deck, that's another story.

More 15's and 16's on a Continuous Shuffler

Did you know that when playing on a continuous shuffler table you will see 20% more of those hands you hate - those stiff 15's and 16's? Do you know why? Well, it's a trick question.

The reason that you'll see more 15's and 16'2 is because one of the main functions of those stupid shufflers is to get more hands out.

A competent dealer will likely get 20% more hands out per hour on the game, so you will see a lot more of those crappy hands. So, what's the good news?

The Good News About Continuous Shufflers

The good news is that you'll see more good hands too, but the human mind is a funny thing. We have selective memory, and we remember the crap more often than we remember the good. So, playing the continuous shuffler games mean you'll get more good hands, make more blackjacks, get more double down hands and generally have a great time. But there's still a catch!

And, the catch is, that all-told, lose more money per hour because you'll play more hands. That's the truth. The better you play basic strategy, the less it will cost you. The better you understand card counting, the more you'll skip the continuous shufflers, even if you have to play a 6-deck shoe. However, if your local casino only has continuous shufflers, that doesn't have to be a bad thing!

As mentioned earlier, you'll actually have slightly better odds against with a continuous shuffler, just keep in mind that you'll get more hands per hour. You can also do better if you watch the other player's cards more carefully. Good Luck!