Blackjack odds: How shuffle machines hurt your wallet

In the game of blackjack, there are a lot of things that can affect your bankroll. While the odds are the same as long as you stick to blackjack basic strategy, there are a number of things that can cause you to win or lose money faster. One such example is the shuffling machines.

Few dealers shuffle by hand today. Most use a shuffling machine, which can be a continuous shuffling machine or a non-continuous shuffling machine. In both cases, use of the machine results in you losing money faster, because it allows you to play more hands in the same period of time. Since, even with perfect strategy, the house has a slight edge, more hands means more money lost. There is also a difference between the two types of shuffling machines, though.

Continuous shuffling machines randomly shuffle the discards after every round is played. Compared to shuffling by hand, these machines allow you to play up to 20% more hands per hour, meaning you could lose 20% more money. With non-continuous automatic shufflers, an entire deck of cards is shuffled at a time once the deck is used up. Because the non-continuous machines require a stop in the action to shuffle cards, they do not allow as many hands to be played as with a continuous shuffling machine. However, it still moves the game faster than shuffling by hand. Therefore, a hand-shuffled game is the best to play, followed by a game with a non-continuous automatic shuffler. Your last choice should be a blackjack game with continuous shuffling machine.

The speed of play isn’t the only way the shuffling machines hurt your odds, though. If you are a card counter, those machines can really be a thorn in your side. For a card counter, the shuffling machine – especially the continuous shuffler – makes card counting much more difficult, because cards you counted as being used could suddenly be put back in play. Some players are able to use shuffle tracking with a continuous shuffler, though that can be combated with batch shufflers.

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