Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can ShuffleMaster Automatic Card Shuffle Machines Cheat You?

I have recently received several e-mails asking me about Shuffle Master’s automatic card-shuffling machines, mainly whether or not they can be manufactured to cheat by Shuffle Master itself by way of performing false shuffles or fixed shuffles, and whether casino personnel can manipulate the card shuffling machines in order to cheat blackjack, poker and baccarat players. Some of these writers expressed complaints about suspicious deals they witnessed and attributed to the Shuffle Master card shufflers.

Well, let’s take a look at this question in two parts. First: Could Shuffle Master itself produce card shuffle machines that cheat for casinos against the players? The answer is, of course they could. But they would need cooperation from casino personnel using their machines on blackjack and poker tables, where a big conspiracy would have to take place. In blackjack, this could be done by dealers looking to isolate clumps of 10-value cards and Aces, which they would keep away from players by placing them within the clump of cards behind the cut card that never gets dealt. Keeping those cards away from card counters as well as normal players would give the casino a substantial added advantage where no one could legitimately beat the game in the long run. But would Shuffle Master actually engage itself in a conspiracy with casinos to cheat players? Of course not. About the only way a Shuffle Master shuffling machine would be involved in a “false” or uneven shuffle is by way of a defective machine that just doesn’t properly or effectively shuffle the cards, resulting in clumps that may either benefit the casino or card counters and legitimate players.

But what about casino personnel manipulating the machines in furtherance of a cheating operation, mainly dealers with or without supervisor participation? Yes, this can happen. But it would probably not involve a defective card shuffler. All the dealer would have to do is simply turn off the machine or disable it in some other way. If he were looking to use or hold back a clump of high or low cards for a new shoe that he noticed during the shoe he’d just dealt, he could indeed accomplish this by manipulating the shoe. And this could be done without turning the shoe off. Any person skilled with this type of machinery would be able to tamper with the machines so that they appear to be shuffling completely when they are not. But again, this would take lots of involvement by various employees to avoid the risk of being seen tampering with the machines. I mean, after all, as the entire casino floor today is monitored by surveillance cameras 24/7, any “work” done on the Shuffle Master card shuffle machines would be recorded by surveillance cameras, thus surveillance personnel would have to be in on any scam.

Bottom line: I don’t think there is any risk worth worrying about as far as being a victim to a Shuffle Master cheating card shuffle machine.