Card counting remains one of the best ways to make profits in the casino. It allows you to gain an edge over the house in blackjack and, over time, win guaranteed money.
However, you can’t simply walk into any casino and count cards. Some gambling establishments use continuous shuffling machines (CSMs).
A CSM stamps out any chance of you winning profits through counting. Unfortunately, certain casino destinations use these machines at all of their tables.
Two prominent gambling destinations in particular heavily rely on CSMs. I’m going to discuss these casino hotspots along with more on continuous shuffling machines.
What Is a Continuous Shuffling Machine?
Dealers commonly hand deal blackjack games. They must stop the action at some point to shuffle the deck or shoe (two or more decks).
The latter term refers to how much of the shoe the dealer goes through before shuffling. More deck penetration helps card counters by improving the accuracy of their counts.
A continuous shuffling machine seriously reduces the amount of penetration. Dealers can place clumps of cards into the CSM at any point.
In turn, this machine randomly shoots cards into its numerous internal slots. When the CSM has finished putting every available card into its slots, it pushes the shuffled card clump towards an opening at the top.
The dealer grabs the clump and continues dealing cards with little time wasted. The end result is that dealers don’t need to go through 75% of the shoe to keep the action running. They simply put cards into the CSM and pull them out after they’re shuffled.
Macau and Monte Carlo Both Feature CSMs All Over
Monte Carlo and Macau are two of the world’s most popular gambling spots. The latter draws more gambling revenue than any other casino city or territory in the world at $35.6 billion annually.
This amount dwarfs what Las Vegas casinos earned through gaming ($6.6 billion) last year. Monte Carlo in Monaco is the world’s most classic casino destination. It offers the luxurious Casino de Monte-Carlo, amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea, and a gambling history dating back to 1863.
Both of these spots are great to visit as a recreational blackjack player. However, you should never go to either place if you’re a serious card counter.
Macao and Monte Carlo feature continuous shuffling machines throughout their casinos. They don’t need to worry about card counters, because their CSMs eliminate this type of advantage play.
You’ll rarely find any tables without these machines in stakes ranging from $10 to $100. Only on the high-stakes tables do Monte Carlo and Macau casinos finally start hand-shuffling shoes.
The problem here, though, is that your minimum bet will be so high that you’ll have trouble keeping up with the variance. Assuming you want to use a 1-10 spread on a $100 table, you’d risk up to $1,000 per hands during a positive count.
You might go with a 1-2 or 1-3 spread if you’re playing high-stakes blackjack for fun. However, you won’t make consistent profits and you’ll still be risking $200 to $300 at the top range.
Why Doesn’t Every Casino Destination Just Use CSMs?
You can see how effective continuous shuffling machines are at thwarting card counting. These machines provide other advantages to casinos as well.
A CSM speeds up the action and boosts operator profits. Continuous shuffling machines generally increase the amount of hands dealt per hour by 20%. Casinos hold an edge over every recreational gambler. Therefore, they can look forward to 20% more profits with a CSM in use.
They enjoy blackjack for the classic feeling. A machine-dealt game, on the other hand, ruins this sentiment and makes everything feel more automated.
Other reasons why gamblers don’t like CSM blackjack is due to misconceptions. Some people mistakenly believe that these machines increase the house edge.
The reality is that a continuous shuffling machine decreases the house advantage by 0.014%. But again, it also speeds up the games. Players lose more money as a result and feel that CSMs increase the house edge.
Paranoid gamblers also feel that casinos use CSMs to rig games. They don’t see any other reason why a gambling establishment would need a machine to deal blackjack.
Any casino that actually used a continuous shuffling machine to rig games would be completely foolish. They risk losing their license just to gain a bigger edge.
Where Can You Count Cards Instead?
You should definitely take Monte Carlo and Macau off your travel schedule if you’re a card counter. Here are some much better spots to hit when you’re looking for profits.
Las Vegas is the best card counting destination bar none. It offers over 130 casinos and a number of hand-shuffled games at all stakes.
You shouldn’t just expect to walk into any casino and find perfect card counting conditions. But you’ll find enough establishments that offer worthy games.
On the other side of the coin, Vegas pit bosses are extremely experienced in dealing with card counters. You’ll definitely want to work on your camouflaging skills (e.g. blending in with normal players) before heading to Sin City.
Reno isn’t nearly as popular as Las Vegas. But this mountainous Nevada city, which is seven hours away from Vegas, offers some of the best blackjack rules anywhere.
You can still find blackjack tables in Reno with a single deck and 3:2 natural blackjack payouts. This combination is becoming increasingly rare in the gambling world.
The favorable rules give you the ability to make profits without spreading your bets as high. But they also put pit bosses more on alert.
Reno pit bosses are more willing to back you off, because they don’t want you counting with such favorable rules. Herein lies another situation where you really need to work on camouflaging.
Atlantic City is the only gambling mecca where casinos can’t legally throw out advantage gamblers. By law, they must treat all players equally regardless of skill.
Therefore, you can count cards all you want and not need to worry about being booted. But the blackjack rules in Atlantic City are worse on average than what’s available in Vegas.
On the good tables that do exist, a pit boss can tell the dealer to shuffle earlier if they suspect that you’re counting. Even with the drawbacks, though, Atlantic City does have some quality blackjack games.
Tips for Counting Cards
You certainly don’t want to get hyped up after watching the movie 21 and immediately feel like you can win card counting profits. Instead, you should keep the following advice in mind before using this advantage gambling technique.
Thoroughly Learn a System
An overwhelming amount of cards counting systems exist. However, you really only need to master one of them to win.
The Hi-Lo is universally the best system to use when starting out. It gives you a solid edge over the casino and is also easy to learn.
Here’s a primer on the finer points of the Hi-Lo. You shouldn’t need much more than 10 to 15 minutes to thoroughly learn this system.
Hone Your Skills
The general public mistakenly believes that card counting is something relegated to math geniuses. The truth, though, is that learning is the easy part.
You mostly need to practice your counting system so much that it becomes second nature. After all, you’ll be trying to keep an accurate count amid various distractions.
These practice methods will give you a feel for what it’s like to count in a live casino and also keep up with the dealer’s speed.
Build up Your Bankroll
Card counting is far from a guaranteed way to make profits. At best, you’ll only gain a 1.5% advantage over the house.
This is roughly the same edge that casinos hold other the average player. Plenty of real money blackjack players go home winners on a nightly basis.
You need a large enough bankroll to deal with the ups and downs of card counting. As a solo counter, you should have $10,000 to $12,000. When playing as a team, you want up to $20,000 to $25,000.
Not every gambling hotspot offers beatable blackjack games. Macau and Monte Carlo are the most famous gambling havens that don’t give you any chance to win through card counting.
Each of these districts feature continuous shuffling machines on all of their blackjack tables. You simply can’t win profits on tables with CSMs.
Luckily, numerous other gambling destinations exist throughout the world. Many of the same spots don’t spread CSMs across their tables.
Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Reno are three of the best destinations where you can count cards and not worry about these machines.