Many casinos have introduced continuous shuffling machines (CSMs) on their blackjack tables in recent years. They rely on CSMs to reduce the dealer’s workload and speed up games.
Obviously, continuous shuffling machines work well from the casino’s perspective. But not every player is a fan of CSMs.
Why the hate for these machines? I’ll discuss more on how a CSM works along with its pros and cons.
Basics of a Continuous Shuffling Machine
All blackjack games were hand shuffled in the past. However, CSMs have made their way onto more and more blackjack tables.
These machines feature an opening at the top. Dealers grab a pile of cards from the discard tray and insert them into this opening.
The CSM then shoots cards into various slots located inside of it. This process happens randomly to produce a random shuffle.
Once the machine has finished sorting cards, it pushes the pile to the top. A dealer can grab this clump of cards and begin dealing them like normal.
Contrast this scenario to a traditional hand-dealt game. At some point, dealers must completely stop the game to shuffle the deck or shoe (2 or more decks).
Some players appreciate these small breaks to stand up and stretch. However, CSMs eliminate these breaks by ensuring that the games don’t need to stop.
CSMs Are Controversial
Everybody has their own reasons for playing blackjack. Some appreciate the in-depth strategy, others like the low house edge, and some enjoy the classic feeling.
The latter can make one feel like an important high roller—no matter how big or little they bet. After all, real money blackjack is one of the most-traditional games in the casino.
A CSM takes away from this feeling, though. It introduces a machine-based element into a game that, for centuries, was always shuffled by hand.
Misconceptions provide another reason why continue shuffling machines are controversial. Some gamblers believe CSMs increase the house advantage.
This belief is mistaken when considering that a CSM actually reduces the house advantage (covered later). However, players lose more money when these machines are present thanks to the increased game speed.
Casinos hold an advantage over recreational players. Therefore, they stand to win more hourly profits when the game runs continuously.
The other common misconception is that casinos rig blackjack through CSMs. Those subscribing to this notion believe that casinos only use these machines to cheat.
Such an act wouldn’t be worth it from the casino’s view considering that they’d destroy their reputation if caught using a rigged CSM. However, players have always been mistrusting of machine-based casino games.
Pros of a CSM
Earlier, I mentioned that casinos love continuous shuffling machine due to the increased profits. But these contraptions also provide certain benefits to players as well.
Offers More Action
Some gamblers enjoy a faster blackjack game. They want to play lots of hands and get the most entertainment possible.
CSMs contribute to quicker game speed. They prevent the dealer from holding games for several minutes just to shuffle.
Of course, a dealer can still slow the game down by dealing at a snail’s pace. By and large, though, continuous shuffling machines increase the amount of hourly hands by around 20%.
Keeps Games Running Smoothly
Anybody who’s on a hot streak hates when a blackjack game suddenly stops. They don’t want their momentum ruined when they’re winning hand after hand.
Unfortunately, this scenario is a fact of life with hand-shuffled games. The dealer needs to stop the action at some point to shuffle the shoe.
A CSM ensures that the croupier never needs to halt the game. They only need a few seconds to insert card clumps into the machine and take them out afterward.
Lowers the House Edge
Contrary to what some players think, a continuous shuffling machine doesn’t give the house a bigger advantage. Instead, it lowers the house edge by 0.014%.
This figure isn’t enough to completely tilt the odds in your favor. It’s also small enough to where you might not even notice the extra advantage.
Nevertheless, you stand a slightly better chance of winning each hand when playing with a continuous shuffling machine.
Cons of a CSM
Misconceptions aren’t the only reasons why people don’t like these machines. Below, you can see the biggest downsides regarding CSMs.
Leads to More Losses
Land-based casinos hold between a 0.5% and 2% edge over blackjack players. Their advantage varies based on the rules available.
You can improve your odds by choosing tables with the best rules. However, you still face a realistic prospect of losing with a CSM involved.
No matter if the casino holds a 0.5% or 2% advantage, they still have the long-term edge. Therefore, you stand to lose extra money when you’re exposed more to this house advantage.
Takes Away Breaks
Blackjack is a mental game that features extensive strategy. Assuming you master this strategy and play on tables with favorable rules, you’ll be facing less than a 1% house edge.
But sometimes, you may need a break from the action to refocus. Hand-shuffled games give you several minutes every hour to collect your thoughts.
CSM tables, on the other hand, don’t offer the same luxury. The dealer can keep the game moving for hours without needing to stop and shuffle.
Ruins the Classic Feeling
In a perfect world, you might see yourself sitting at a high roller blackjack table, wearing formal wear, and winning five- or six-figure bets. What you probably don’t envision in this fantasy, though, is a continuous shuffling machine.
Blackjack has a classic feeling that many players love. It has existed in its current form for centuries.
A CSM cheapens the game by bringing a machine into the fold. It makes blackjack feel more automated and less exciting.
Prevents Card Counting
Assuming you fancy yourself a card counter, you’ll definitely want to avoid continuous shuffling machines. The latter ruins any chance you have at making profits through this advantage play method.
As a card counter, you need at least 75% deck penetration to make consistent profits. A CSM ensures that the dealer doesn’t even need to go 20% of the way through the shoe before cards are shuffled.
They can just pick up a pile of cards at any moment and place them into the machine. Therefore, you never get the kind of deck penetration you need to win consistently through card counting.
When You Should Consider Tables with CSMs
Overall, continuous shuffling machines give you more reasons to stay away than embrace them. But you might still think about playing at CSM tables when considering the following scenarios.
You like Faster Play
You probably don’t worry about being exposed the house edge if you play blackjack. After all, you’d never take a seat to begin with if you feared the house advantage.
Furthermore, you might be the type of player who embraces more hands per hour. A quicker pace gives you more entertainment in a shorter time period.
When sitting at a CSM table with 1-2 other players, you could see up to 150 hands per hour. This rate keeps you busy and entertained.
You Don’t Care About the Traditional Feeling
Perhaps you like playing blackjack in land-based casinos but aren’t overly concerned about the atmosphere. In this case, you probably also don’t care when CSMs are brought into the fold.
These machines make blackjack feel a little less traditional. However, they don’t diminish from the fact that you’re still sitting at a real table and receiving hands from a human dealer.
You’re Looking for Any Edge Possible
Serious recreational blackjack players look for any advantage they can get. If you fall into this class, you’ll appreciate a continuous shuffling machine.
Again, a CSM reduces the house edge by 0.014%. This small edge, combined with other favorable rules, can help you lower the overall house edge to 0.5% or lower.
Most blackjack players simply prefer hand-shuffled tables. They like the classic atmosphere and getting breaks when the dealer stops to shuffle.
As you can see, continuous shuffling machines aren’t completely bad. They do provide advantages in certain situations.
Whether you play at a table with a CSM all comes down to individual preference. In the end, you might forget that the continuous shuffling machine even exists once you really get into the action.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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