Blackjack Strategy and Odds for Shuffle Machines

A good many blackjack players do not think twice when in a brick and mortar casino about what sort of shuffling is happening at their table. This is especially true of novice players who do not understand how shuffling impacts their blackjack odds.

And it is true, something as with seemingly as little consequence as a shuffle machine can indeed impact a player’s blackjack odds—and not in a good way.

I will cover online blackjack first as it is the simplest. There is only one kind of ‘shuffling’ in online blackjack, and it is like a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM). This is because when the RNG goes to pull the cards for the next round, it is pulling from all possibilities. This means that no cards are ever discarded. Hence, why online blackjack ‘shuffling’ is like playing with a CSM.

In online blackjack there is no choice on shuffling methods. Players just deal with the RNG and keep on playing. But players in brick and mortar casinos do have a choice. And often they make the wrong one.

When playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino there are generally three different types of shuffling available: CSMs, non-continuous shufflers and hand shuffling.

For experienced blackjack players it is well-known that CSMs are the worst type of shuffling. Well, they are if you are a card counter as they make card counting impossible.

Sometimes novice blackjack players pick up on this, and so they deem CSMs as bad and avoid playing at tables that use CSMs. Good job, newbies!

However, a good many of them will play at tables with non-continuous shufflers. In truth, when you do not consider card counting, these are just as bad as CSMs. This is because all shuffle machines—CSMs and non-continuous shufflers—speed up the rate of play, and THAT is what hurts a player’s blackjack odds.

Both types of shuffle machines speed up the rate of play by around 20%. So say on average you play 100 rounds per hour; if you were playing with some sort of shuffler you would be playing 120 rounds per hour. The more rounds per hour you play, the more opportunities there are for you to lose money:

You are wagering $10 per game. If you lose 52% of the games—which does follow blackjack odds—you would lose $520. At a table with a shuffle machine you stand to lose $624 per hour.

It would be in a player’s best interest to include in heir blackjack strategy to not play at tables with shuffle machines. Why voluntarily hurt your blackjack odds like that?

Blackjack Odds of Winning and Losing

What makes blackjack one of the most popular casino games out there?

Simply put, it is the myth that blackjack is the one casino game in which the player can gain the edge and beat the house.

Truthfully that can happen. But it does not happen just from sitting down at the blackjack table or by logging in to your favorite online casino to play a few rounds. To beat the house at blackjack you must study the game, its rules and its strategies. It takes practice. And it also takes card counting.

So truth be told, online blackjack cannot be beat because a player cannot count cards. This is because the game functions similarly to a blackjack table with a CSM in a brick and mortar casino. A CSM is a Continuous Shuffle Machine, and it prevents any cards from being discarded because at the end of a round all the just-used cards are put in the little machine, the entire deck reshuffled and then the next round dealt.

So you must be playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino—at a table without a CSM I might add—so that you can count cards. You also need to be playing according to basic strategy. Basic strategy drops the house edge to 0.5%. A skilled and practiced card counter can overcome the remaining 0.5% that is against them and then begin to tip the odds up to 1% in their favor.

So, yes, blackjack is a beatable casino game.

However, the majority of blackjack players will not spend the time to gain the necessary skill in card counting that is needed to overcome that last bit of the house’s edge. And still many others will not play according to basic strategy.

And while casinos to not want to seem like they are handing out money for free, they do not seem to mind the continued myth that blackjack is the beatable casino game. For them, it draws more and more new blackjack players that they wind up taking money from.

Even knowing that, players who want to become skilled at blackjack should still work and practice their blackjack strategy. Strategy is meant to improve blackjack odds. So even if you do not beat the house, you will lose less money with a sound blackjack strategy than if you did not have a blackjack strategy.

How Blackjack Odds Change

Because of the nature of the game, a player’s odds in blackjack are constantly changing. Well, they used to at least.

Because of the constant shuffling method of operation of a Random Number Generator (RNG) in online blackjack and the Continuous Shuffle Machines (CSM), the odds in those blackjack games stay pretty fixed. The reason for why the odds on those two types of blackjack stay the same, roughly, is because in regular blackjack the remaining deck changes.

A player’s blackjack odds traditionally shift throughout the course of the game. When a round ends, the cards that were just played are collected and set aside as discards. In other words, they are no longer in play.

With cards being removed from play it affects what the percentage of cards that are left in the deck. For example if there has been a run of low cards, it means that more low cards were being dealt and then removed from play at the end of each round. With those low cards gone, it leaves a greater number of high cards left to be dealt. A shift in cards like that is what causes the odds in blackjack to change.

When there has a been a run of low cards, like in the scenario above, the remaining high cards in the player’s favor, increasing the player’s blackjack odds. With high cards remaining there is an increased chance of being dealt a natural blackjack or having high double downs, both of which pay more and take away more from the house’s edge.

But when the run was a high card fun and the remaining deck is rich in low cards, it means a decrease in the player’s blackjack odds. This is because low cards favor the house and not the player. Dealers are more likely to hit to strong hands while a player busts or loses because of a stiff hand.

Because an RNG pulls from dealing outcomes that include all the cards in a deck it means that no cards are left out of the outcomes. This is similar to a CSM in that all cards are in play at all times.

This is can be good and bad. It is good because it means that the house does not have an advantage at times; but it is also bad because the player does not have an opportunity to have increased blackjack odds from discarded cards.