Just about every single blackjack player out there has heard of card counting. Even casino patrons who only play a few rounds of blackjack for a break from their preferred casino game have heard of card counting. But what many blackjack players have not heard of is shuffle tracking.
Shuffle tracking is another ‘counting’ skill that the elite of card counter work into their counting strategies. This particular skill involves tracking the clump of cards that come after the shuffle card to see where or in what zone the newly shuffled deck the clump of cards is in.
Let me break it down a bit more. Prior to dealing at the blackjack table, the dealer will have a player cut the deck. Where that cut is made a shuffle card is inserted. When the shuffle card appears, the dealer reshuffles the deck and the process begins again.
What this has to do with card counters is that sometimes the count goes positive and the counter is ready to increase his wagers. And then the shuffle card appears and that means that all those high cards are behind the shuffle card. This is where the shuffle tracking comes in. Shuffle trackers will watch the shuffling very, very carefully to see where that clump of rich cards goes. Then the shuffle tracker will cut the deck so that the clump of high cards from before the shuffle are on top. This allows them to wager high right off the bat; they still get their money from counting cards, and the high wagers from the get-go confuse the casino personnel since card counters never wager high at the beginning of a new shoe.
But shuffle tracking is not a simple skill to learn. Shuffle trackers must learn the shuffle patterns of the particular casino they want to try their skill at. They then have to replicate the shuffle at home to learn how to keep pace with the shuffle in order to track the clump they want to cut to the top. It takes a lot of practice and skill. Without careful practice and careful tracking a player could lose the clump of high cards unknowingly; not being careful and not practicing and preparing ahead of time can result in the loss of a lot of a player’s bankroll.
This is one blackjack skill that requires a lot of practice, more than card counting. And while casinos have naturally taken precautions—complicated shuffle patterns and continuous shuffle machines—players will still try their hand at shuffle tracking. Just make sure that if you want to work shuffle tracking into your blackjack strategy to practice a lot. And I do mean a lot.