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Al Moe

Those Pesky Blackjack Shuffle Machines

By November 14, 2012

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I've had several questions about those pesky blackjack shuffle machines recently. When they were first introduced the dealers were inefficient, the machines broke-down on a regular basis, and there were several companies making the darn things so you never really knew what you were getting as a player. These days there are plenty of machines, but only one major supplier: Shuffle Master.

Actually, Shuffle Master is now called SHFL entertainment. Last month they tried to add some cache to their name as they move into mobile and online gaming, which everyone with half-a-brain is doing right now before the whole industry explodes and anyone with a smart phone can loose a week's pay at a traffic stop. Anyway..........SHFL makes the bulk of shuffle machines, and while the machines are often derided by players, dealers should love them, because they take a lot of heat off of the poor person sending the cards out and scooping the chips back into the tray.

Although I hear that "those machines don't mix the cards right," and "I'm just unlucky with those things," on a regular basis, the machines do a very good job of mixing the cards and the casino has the edge, so the players were going to spend just as much money on x-number of hands with a hand-dealt game anyway. In fact, a continuous shuffler actually lowers (very slightly) the house's edge for the player (about enough for a buffet each year).

At a very good property where the good basic strategy player is at a .5 percent disadvantage, it costs a nickel a hand to bet $10. A single-deck continuous shuffler saves about 11-cents per 100 hands for the player. If you play 500 hands a week for a year, that's $28.60 in savings.

The Sad Truth

Now the truth, sad as it might be: you play more hands per hour on a blackjack table with a shuffle machine! That's right. That's the whole point. The casinos put them in because they are efficient and can increase hands per hour by as much as 10 percent. So the truth is that you will play more hands and actually lose the same amount of money in just 54 minutes instead of what used to take an hour. If it used to cost you $100 for a night out with hand-shuffled games and you play the same amount of time on a table with an automatic shuffler, it's going to cost you $110 now. Try to enjoy yourself faster.

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