Blackjack is one of the oldest games in the casino. It has been around in some form or another since the early 1600s.
Centuries ago, nobody could fathom that machines would be shuffling blackjack games one day. However, this scenario has come to life in the form of continuous shuffling machines.
Casinos use continuous shuffling machines (CSMs) to take pressure off the dealer and help speed up games. But they also turn off a portion of their players when using these machines.
Certain gamblers have misconceptions about CSMs that include everything from rigged games to a much higher house edge.
Should you share the same concerns? I’ll clear up this matter by covering more on CSMs along with why they’re so misunderstood.
What Is a Blackjack CSM?
A continuous shuffling machine features an opening at the top where dealers can insert clumps of cards. It has numerous slots located inside of it that serve as card holders.
This machine shoots played cards into the slots in a random manner. Once it has finished putting all of the cards into random slots, the machine pushes the clump to the top.
The dealer takes this card clump out of the machine and continues dealing. Therefore, they never need to completely stop play to shuffle a shoe (two or more decks).
Instead, they only briefly pause to grab played cards and insert them into the CSM. This process keeps games running more smoothly and without lengthy brakes.
Why Casinos Love Continuous Shuffling Machines
More and more casinos are adding CSMs to their tables. You can see the main reason why these machines are spreading throughout the blackjack world below.
Under normal circumstances, a dealer needs to stop a blackjack game and shuffle the cards. They typically do this after between 60% and 75% of the shoe has been dealt.
This stoppage can last for several minutes. The dealer must separate the pile into different clumps and riffle through each one.
The casino appreciates a well-shuffled and random blackjack game. But these stoppages also cost them money.
The house holds the edge over any recreational blackjack and wants faster games to capitalize on this advantage. A CSM allows casinos to deal around 20% more hands per hour.
The exact amount that casino stand to make from faster blackjack tables varies based on different factors. A dealer’s speed and how many people are the table also play a role.
Simply put, though, gambling establishments want as many hands dealt as possible. They can win thousands of dollars more each day with continuous shuffling machines in the mix.
Here’s an example to illustrate how much casinos will earn with machine-dealt games:
Table without a CSM:
- 3 people are playing.
- 80 hands are dealt per hour.
- The average bet size is $25.
- 80 x 3 x 25 = $6,000 in betting action
- The house edge is 1.5%.
- 6,000 x 0.015 = $90 in winnings for the house
Table with a CSM:
- 3 people are playing.
- 100 hands are dealt per hour.
- The average bet size is $25.
- 100 x 3 x 25 = $7,500 in betting action
- The house edge is 1.5%.
- 7,500 x 0.015 = $112.50 in winnings for the house
Stops Card Counters
Casinos definitely don’t like card counters. A skilled counter gains an advantage over the house and makes guaranteed profits.
Professional players put a serious dent in casinos’ profits. However, continuous shuffling machines render card counting impossible.
Card counting needs deck penetration to make profits. Their positive count is much more accurate when 70% of the deck has been dealt versus just 20%.
The latter waits this long to shuffle, because they don’t want to stop the game frequently.
But the dealer doesn’t need to stop action to shuffle with CSMs involved. Instead, they can just grab a pile of cards every so often and throw them into the machine. As a result, card counters never get adequate deck penetration.
Common Misconceptions about CSMs
In their ideal world, gambling establishments would fill blackjack tables with continuous shuffling machines. They don’t do this everywhere, though, because not all of their customers approve.
Certain players absolutely refuse to play at tables with these machines. The same group often has the following common misconceptions about CSMs.
Raises House Edge
The average player will lose more money at tables with a continuous shuffling machine. Therefore, they may feel that these machines raise the house edge.
In actuality, a CSM lowers the house advantage by 0.014%. As a recreational player, you have a slightly better chance to win each hand at a machine-dealt table.
The reason why people lose more in these games, though, is due to the game speed. They see more hands per hour and are exposed more to the house advantage.
Earlier, I showed how a casino’s profits go up when a CSM is in play. The reverse is true for players, where they lose more money with machines involved.
Rigs Games for Casinos
It’s understandable that some gamblers mistakenly believe they face worse odds with continuous shuffling machines involved. The latter speeds up the action and causes more losses.
However, a much bigger misconception is that CSMs somehow rig the game. Those who believe this feel that the machine is somehow programmed to give the casino better odds of winning.
This same logic relates to slot machine myths. Many players believe that casinos can easily rig slot machines.
Gamblers have always had a mistrust of anything dealing with machines, because they can’t see the innerworkings like with a blackjack game
Casino stand to lose much more, including their license and hefty fines, if they were caught using a biased CSM (if such a thing even exists). Therefore, you don’t have to worry about casinos cheating.
Should You Play at Tables with CSMs?
Your individual preferences will determine whether you play at a blackjack table with a continuous shuffling machine.
You can see that there’s nothing to worry from a house edge or rigged-game perspective. Assuming you don’t mind the thought of a machine-based game, then you won’t mind playing at these tables.
However, you may also seek a more-classic blackjack feeling. A CSM doesn’t achieve this traditional aspect.
Instead, it makes games feel more robotic. If you like the atmosphere almost as much as the action, you should definitely look for hand-shuffled games.
The increased losses might also turn you off from these tables. Again, the quicker game speed will lead to increased losses on average.
You can win more money by studying basic blackjack strategy. But you also must deal with the more-realistic fact that you’ll lose when considering the house edge.
What’s Your Alternative in Blackjack?
Continuous shuffling machines may be slowly invading the gambling world. However, you don’t have to settle for these games.
Some international gambling destinations, on the other hand, feature CSMs at the vast majority of their tables. Macau and Monte Carlo are two of the most-notable casino hotspots that fall into this category.
You should definitely avoid these places when you’re trying to avoid continuous shuffling machines. The good news, though, is that the majority of the gambling world still offers plenty of hand-shuffled tables.
That said, I advise that you do research before playing blackjack in a prospective gambling destination. This research will ensure that you don’t visit a gambling hotspot and get a nasty surprise.
The point of this post isn’t to sell you on playing at tables with continuous shuffling machines. Instead, I merely want to show that CSMs aren’t as bad as some players think.
These machines don’t give the house a bigger advantage—they actually decrease it. They also don’t rig games to give casinos stronger odds.
You can expect a fair game with CSMs involved. However, you’ll also be more exposed to the house edge when considering that more hands will be dealt per hour.
Furthermore, you might like the feeling of being at a table where the machine shuffles cards. In this case, you should definitely seek out a traditional blackjack table.