The best card shufflers are common items seen in casinos and gambling centers across the United States because of their numerous benefits. But these aren’t just seen in large venues because even families and friends who like to play card games, such as poker, in private venues also like using them.
Basically, card shufflers are mechanical machines used for the random shuffling of packs of playing cards. These come in several shapes, styles and sizes from the shoe types to the continuous shuffling machines. But at the heart of each card shuffler is overcoming the limitations of manual card shuffling including:
- Slow shuffling that can delay the play
- Weak shuffling that can result in unfair play
- Inadequate shuffling done by casino employees as part of a collaboration with players
There’s also the matter of the dealers, who are the traditional card shufflers in casinos, having higher risks for repetitive motion stress injuries. These are among the common causes of absences from work as well as slow, weak and inadequate shuffling.
With the best card shuffling machines used to replace manual shuffling, everybody at the table benefits. The dealers can give their hands a rest from the repetitive motions while the casino managers and owners can reduce the risk of collusion between employees and players. The players can also benefit from the fair play, especially since automatic card shufflers can limit card counting.
But card shuffling machines have to be designed and constructed carefully. Otherwise, these machines can create biased shuffles that will defeat the primary purpose for which these were created in the first place. For this reason, the most sophisticated automatic card shufflers are controlled by computers to reduce the risk of biased shuffling.
Both the casinos and players are interested in the randomness – or the lack of it – generated by automatic card shufflers. While there are limitations to these machines, these are becoming fixtures in casinos and gambling centers because of their convenience.
How does a card shuffler works?
The exact workings of a card shuffler depends on its type. The type of card shuffler used can also depend on the type of games being played. There are three major types of shuffling machines used in casinos today.
Shoe shuffling machines
These machines are used for blackjack games where more than two decks are needed. Emphasis must be made that shoe games can be completely beaten by experienced card counting, a limitation that may turn off many people considering its use.
Of course, the increase in the number of decks will decrease the game’s advantage but there are factors that can counterbalance it. These factors include a greater degree of tolerance and better rules.
Automatic shuffling machines
These machines take all the cards in several decks, which may either be six or eight decks, and efficiently shuffles them as a pack. The dealer then takes a full stack, asks the player to cut, and puts it into a shoe followed by dealing the cards.
These card shufflers are great choices because the game already includes all of the cards resulting in fairer play. The efficient shuffling of several decks also speeds up the game so more bets can be placed.
Also known as batch shufflers, these are more expensive than continuous shuffle machines but their prices are justified by their benefits. In some continuous shufflers, for example, the shuffling operation doesn’t change the state of the deck quickly and significantly enough. New cards may also be taken even before the cards have been sufficiently randomized, which allows experienced players to apply the principles of shuffle tracking cards.
Continuous shuffle machines
These card shufflers continually shuffle three to five cards while the dealer can places the used cards back into it – and the shuffling process continues. Their design makes it impossible for even the most experienced players to predict the cards in the shoe and, thus, to count a game played on them.
The actual shuffling procedure using these machines will differ between casinos. In case of the automatic card shuffler, the process may involve the following steps:
- After completing a hand, the dealer collects all the cards followed by riffling and/or cutting the deck; the last step is optional.
- He opens the shuffler’s lid by pressing a recessed button on its top thereby exposing the already shuffled deck.
- He removes the shuffled deck and replaces it with the used deck.
- He closes the lid and starts the automatic shuffling process again on the newly inserted deck.
- Most automatic card shufflers also have counting mechanisms that ensure all 52 cards are in the deck.
Let’s assume that you purchase the best card shuffler within your budget for you own recreational purposes. The next step is actually using it and it’s fast and easy, too. Basically, it’s a simple matter of sliding in the desired number of cards into the tray and pressing down on the right button. The machine automatically shuffles the card in preparation for play.
But since these are mechanical machines, these can also have operational issues. Fortunately, these can be easily fixed.
One of the common issues is when one or both of its sides aren’t moving even when you press on the operating button – and its typical cause is the gears aren’t spinning.
The solution: Reposition the gears using a long, thin tool like a pencil, an eyeglass screwdriver, or a pair of tweezers. Look for the long, thin gear touching both the grippy gear and the motor gear; the grippy gear is the one that physically moves the cards. The latter may be pushed right up the former resulting in friction that, in turn, prevents both gears from spinning.
Things to consider before buying a card shuffler
Before considering the features of the card shuffling machines, keep in mind the following things that make for a good one:
- Easy to use
- Even shuffling of cards
- Unbiased shuffling that contributes to fair gaming
- High shuffling speed to prevent delays in playing
- Can eliminate manual shuffling
- Affordable price
Keep in mind, too, that while card shufflers can make card games more enjoyable for both the dealers and players, the wrong choice can also make it less fun for everybody. You must then take the time and pour the energy into checking out the choices and matching your needs with their features.
Here are the most important things that you should look for when choosing the right card shuffling machine for you.
The mode of operation
While the card shufflers eliminate manual shuffling, these come in two main types – manual that doesn’t require batteries and automatic, which are battery-operated and with a button or lever for operation.
The automatic card shufflers are the obvious better choice because of the convenience of operation but these can also become jammed. But you can also choose the manual because, in the end, it’s a matter of personal preference.
The type of games that will be played using the machine
Not every machine is suitable for playing most types of games so it’s a major consideration. Some machines may all for playing all types of poker, among other casino-themed games, while others will only limit the types of card games possible. You should then consider the games that you like playing so that your choice in a card shuffler can match them.
The size and material of the cards used on it
Ask about the size and material of the cards that can be accommodated in the card shuffler before buying it. You may not want to buy another brand of playing cards, for example, so another card shuffler may be needed. You should, nonetheless, use high-quality cards to reduce card flipping and jamming regardless of the type of machine you get.
The shuffling capacity
Each machine has its own capacity, especially in terms of the number of tickets that it can shuffle comfortably at a time. You can then determine whether its shuttling capacity suits your needs.
And last but not the least, choose a card shuffler that provides good value for the money – a balance between practical features and reasonable price. While you may be tempted to choose the cheapest, you shouldn’t because it will likely break down within a few uses. But don’t go for the most expensive either as many of its features may just be bells and whistles.
The best card shufflers aren’t just for the convenience of shuffling cards without subjecting the dealers’ hands to repetitive stress injuries. These are also essential for ensuring unbiased shuffling of cards that, in turn, will contribute to fair play. The best players will be able to increase their chances of winning without resorting to cheating, such as card counting that a card shuffler can eliminate.