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The Effect of Continuous Shuffling Machines on Blackjack House Edge

17 January 2011 by Devon Chappell

We recently reported about the use of continuous shuffling machines (CSM’s) by casinos to mitigate both the effects of card counting, and the Basic Blackjack strategy. CSM’s are now used by just about every major brick ‘n mortar casino in business today, and while they are praised by casino operators as the next best thing to video surveillance cameras, aka, the Eye in the Sky, CSM’s do not make a huge dent in the effects of mathematical strategy.

In fact, one of the most renowned actuaries and gaming mathematicians in the world, Michael Shackleford, otherwise known as The Wizard of Odds, did a mathematical analysis of CSM’s and determined that there is a slight lowering of the House Edge caused by the use of CSM’s. You heard right. CSM’s actually lower the House Edge!

In other words, it’s still worth the time and effort learning the Basic Blackjack strategy and putting it to use while in the casino. The greatest advantage of using CSM’s (as far as the casino is concerned) is that they increase the speed of play by about 20%. That means you will stand to play 20 times more hands in an hour at the blackjack table, and consequently, lose 20 times more money!

The bottom line is that, in the long run, the casino will always have a House Edge. There may be times when the highly skilled player who is using perfect mathematical strategy will be able to get the edge to nil, or even a positive value (player’s advantage), yet the law of numbers and averages will always give the casino it’s take at blackjack. If you stick to perfect strategy, have enough bankroll to get through the lows and highs, and know when to call it quits, you can win some money playing blackjack online for money.

If you have no choice but to play Blackjack where continuous shuffling takes place – ’cause let’s face it, the majority of casinos use CSM’s – then play you hand as you normally would (no less than perfect strategy, right?). If you’re gambling at casinos online, consider taking your time – You have the luxury of doing so. Even lay out the Basic Strategy card by the keypad if you must.

Whether the particular online casino software you happen to be playing with employs automatic shuffling or not, doesn’t matter. If you must know, many online casinos shuffle the deck once at the start of each playing round. For all the non-US online gamblers out there, you might want to consider playing live dealer online blackjack. The playing cards for live dealer games are so large, you might actually stand a better chance at card counting….or not.

In one of our upcoming posts, we will cover the CSM in more detail, including how they came about in the first place and where they may be heading!

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