How Do Casinos Shuffle Cards?

Games of chance require that events are unpredictable. It is the laws of physics that maximize the uncertainty in gambling. Some scientific and mathematical studies have suggested it takes seven shuffles to create a single random deck of cards.

Casinos need to be sure they achieve the levels of uncertainty and random appearance of cards required for gambling. Casino dealers ensure a random shuffle by a wash, three riffle shuffles, and a cut. The cut is the final step and prevents anyone from seeing the bottom card in the pack and ensures all cards are dealt from the top of the pack.

Card Shuffle

The Wash

First, the cards are spread across the table. They are then mixed up by hand. This is repeated several times to complete the wash.

The Vegas Wash involves placing the cards face down in two rows and moving the cards in circles for at least five seconds to mix them up. Then the dealer lifts their hands away from the cards and repeats the minimum 5-second mix at least 3 times.

Alternatively, a dealer may prefer to lay the cards out like dominoes to scramble them. Other dealers fan them out before the wash. You will find card washing techniques demonstrated on YouTube.

Washing is also referred to as

  • An Irish shuffle
  • Chemmy shuffle
  • Scrambling
  • The Beginner shuffle
  • Smooshing
  • Schwirsheling

The Riffle Shuffle

Once the cards are “washed,” they’re squared up and are then “riffle shuffled,” multiple times, before play begins.

Riffle shuffling takes practice and professional dealers will do it in the air away from the table.

For the beginner, it is best to start on the table:

  • Separate the deck into two stacks.
  • Arrange the two stacks so the long edge of the cards is facing you.
  • Place your right thumb near the left-hand corner of the right-hand stack facing you Put your index finger lightly on top of the stack. Your middle finger should rest against the opposite long edge to hold the cards firmly.
  • Mirror this with the left stack: left thumb near the right-hand corner etc.
  • Move the two stacks close to one another. Rotate the stacks slightly away from you.
  • Use your thumbs to bend the cards upwards and close the gap between the cards.
  • Allow the cards to snap back onto the table so the corners of each stack overlap.
  • Gather the cards into a single block.
  • Repeat.

The Riffle Shuffle is also known as a Dovetail shuffle.

The Cut

Before dealing the cards they are cut. Casino dealers will usually have a yellow plastic ‘cut card’. They will cut the deck onto the cut card, stack the deck up again before they begin to deal.

This ensures no one can get a glimpse of the bottom card. Additionally, it would prevent a dishonest dealer from dealing from the bottom of the pack.

Card Shuffling Machines

Many casinos employ automatic shuffling machines. There are advantages:

  • Avoids repetitive strain injuries among dealers.
  • Eliminates time spent by the dealer shuffling cards and thus improving his or her productivity.
  • Prevents unscrupulous dealers collaborating with gamblers to reduce the randomness of a pack due to inadequate shuffling.

Card shuffling machines are improving in their guarantees of randomness all the time. However, it’s worth checking the integrity of your casino’s equipment as older “Continuous Shufflers” are often less reliable. “Batch Shufflers” have traditionally been considered more effective.

Online Casinos

Players in online casinos want to be absolutely confident that there is absolutely no bias towards the house. Without that reassurance, there would be no online gambling community as they would soon recognize the odds were against them.

How are cards shuffled online?

To guarantee the fairness of online casinos it is necessary to have a computer algorithm that guarantees randomness. This is called a Pseudo Random Number Generator (or PRNG).

The complexity of the algorithm ensures the odds of winning in an online casino are the same as winning in a regular brick-and-mortar casino.

How to be sure your online casino offers effective randomization

Lots of the online casino sites provide their customers with information about sources of randomness which control the cards’ algorithm.

Moreover, virtual casinos are licensed in much the same way as standard, ‘real’ casinos. To maintain their license, they must adhere to strict rules of conduct and performance. Additionally, they are monitored and tested and must demonstrate adequate security, proper quality, and safe payment methods.

Any breaches may result in the license being immediately withdrawn. All this ensures your online experience is equitable as a physical visit to a table.