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Whether you’re playing at a land based or online casino, the most important thing to remember as a blackjack player is to look for a table that offers a 3:2 payout rate on natural blackjack game. These games are favourable due to the fact that the dealer stands on soft 17 and players are permitted to split any of their hands. This along with several other rules, make this game variation advantageous to players – but also a little rare, which is why online casinos are often the better option as it’s easier to locate this game variant than to go from one land based casino to the next.
If however you are playing blackjack at a land based casino, something you may not have considered is the card shuffling machine and whether it is continuous or automatic. This seemingly insignificant function can in fact make a big difference to your game. This is because continuous shuffling can lower the house edge.
Here we’ll take a look at how these machines work and how they affect blackjack odds.
The Basics of Card Shuffling Machines (CSM’s)
We all know that casinos have a house advantage in most games over the long term – this is what makes them profitable and keeps them in business. Obviously the more players play, the more these profits grow, so in order to speed up games, casinos installed shuffling machines at most blackjack tables. This is not a new occurrence though, they have been in place for a few decades.
There are two types of card shuffling machines, namely automatic and continuous shuffling machines. The main difference between the two is in how they operate. With automatic shufflers, the used cards are returned to the machine and shuffled once all cards have been used while in continuous shuffling machines cards are immediately returned to the machine after each hand, being shuffled back into the deck and making it possible for you to receive the same cards as you did in the previous round.
Continuous Shuffling Machines lower the House Edge
According to gaming experts who have studied CSM’s, while these machines speed up game play and make life difficult for card counters, they actually lower the house edge by a marginal 0.1% due to the fact that all cards are returned to the machine after each hand, which works in favour of players, giving them a higher the chance of hitting a natural 3:2 blackjack payout.
Increased Game Pace and Strategy Effects
As discussed, continuous automatic card shufflers speed up the pace of the game dealing 72 hands per hour, whereas non-continuous shufflers don’t, dealing 60 hands per hour. If the house edge is kept to 0.5% through strategic blackjack play, you would theoretically lose $1.50 each hour with a non-continuous shuffler and $1.80 with a continuous one. This may seem like only a slight difference but if you’re playing higher stakes games it can definitely add up – that said though, you’ll generally find these machines at $5 and $10 blackjack tables and note that they are often absent from higher denomination games due to the fact that most high rollers don’t like the way they work and therefore avoid spending their money when they are present.
Another thing to consider is that if you’re playing according to blackjack strategy that incorporates card counting technique, these machines will throw you off – so it’s better to look for old fashioned dealer shuffling tables if you can find them.
Ultimately it all comes to being and informed and weighing up the pros and cons of the game taking into account which type of shuffler is used. If you’re happy to play a faster paced game with better odds of winning that may cost your slightly more per hour, then look for games with CSM’s – if not, opt for auto shuffle or games where the dealers shuffle the cards, or simply play blackjack online where none of this is a consideration and all games are governed by audited Random Number Generators.