The Continuous Shuffling Machines of Blackjack

For many years, casinos have been waging an endless battle with blackjack players who want to gain an advantage over the house using card counting techniques. Although card counting is not considered illegal, the casinos see it as a threat to their profits.

So the Continuous Shuffling Machine or CSM was invented to stop card counters dead on their tracks. The main purpose of the CSM was to eliminate card counting or to render card counting techniques ineffective. It was also meant to reduce the time it takes to shuffle the cards. Shuffle Master's CSM also promised to save money for the casino since it uses only four decks instead of the usual six or eight decks per shoe.

How does a CSM work? After the end of each hand, the cards used during that hand are placed into the CSM which mixes and shuffles these cards with the remaining cards in the shoe. Using a form of elevator, the cards are placed into one of the 19 elevator shelves. The machine then randomly selects one of the shelves of cards to be placed into the shoe.

Nowadays, many casinos all over the world have introduced the CSMs for their blackjack games in a desperate bid to thwart card counters. Both the blackjack players and the casino dealers have expressed their dislike for these machines. The players hate the way the CSMs "destroy" the essence of the traditional game while the dealers say that these machines deprive them the pleasure of shuffling the cards physically to allow them to take a short physical and mental break.

The introduction of the Continuous Shuffling Machine meant that skilled blackjack players now find it difficult or even impossible to use their card counting techniques effectively. Even ordinary players using the basic strategy have found it more difficult to win because of the CSM.

One big misconception about the Continuous Shuffling Machine is that it supposedly increases the house edge. This is not always true, as some research have shown that the house edge for a four-deck blackjack game is only 0.034% while for an eight-deck game it is 0.014%.

However, the small decrease in the house edge doesn't necessarily mean that your chances of winning are increased. Since CSMs increase the speed of the game by as much as 20%, theoretically the players will lose more since more money is exposed to the house edge.

With so much opposition to the Continuous Shuffling Machine, it remains to be seen whether the casinos will continue utilizing CSMs. If you hate CSMs, you can play in casinos that don't use these devices. It would be better to play blackjack in its traditional form without resorting to mechanical devices just to protect the interests of the casinos.