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Re: I.M.O. - Preferential Shuffling is Casino Cheating!
Posted by koi fish on January 21, 1997 at 22:58:40, in response to I.M.O. - Preferential Shuffling is Casino Cheating!, posted by Michael Dalton on January 21, 1997 at 19:55:27
Yes - IMO it is *legally sanctioned* cheating. There is no law or gaming regulation that governs penetration on a blackjack game, and so the dealers are allowed legally to shuffle at will. This is truly a case of "caveat emptor." I have played many places and have found preferential shuffling in quite a number of single-deck games. Generally, it tends *not* to occur in the nicest "carpet" joints i.e. have never observed it at the Peppermill in Reno.
I would strongly recommend that anyone who plans to play a lot of single deck spend a couple of hours in the following manner: clear off the kitchen table and deal various numbers of rounds of blackjack to various numbers of spots. Be sure to include the dealer, of course, and also be sure to burn 1 card at the beginning of the deal. Play the hands either using basic strategy or counting - however you like. Then, count the number of cards remaining in your hand after the rounds have been dealt. For example, deal 2 rounds to 6 spots, 2 rounds to 7 spots, 3 rounds to 4 spots, and 6 rounds to 2 spots. Observe that you can hardly run out of cards under any of these situations. There is an infinitesimal possibility of running out with 2 rounds to 7 spots, but it is a minute possibility. It's impossible with the other combinations! This exercise will make you aware of how many rounds to how many spots are going out on a single deck table and you'll be more cognizant to watch for this when you play.
I have observed preferential shuffling at quite a number of casinos, mostly single-deck clubs in Reno and Las Vegas. It is much less common in double deck games. It is easier for a non-counting dealer to preferentially shuffle in single deck by "guesstimating" the count based on number of small cards seen in the first 1 or 2 rounds or thickness of the pack in the hand than for the dealer to "guesstimate" a count in double deck [without a cut card] without actually counting.
Many beginning card counters instantly gravitate toward single deck. This can be dangerous, if there is preferential shuffling, or -if they just plain don't see enough cards- say, by sitting too close to first base at a full single deck table. Assuming adequate penetration and decent rules, I have a personal preference for double deck, because I have run into much less preferential shuffling on double deck - and because the "betting penetration" on the last round is deeper at a full table than is the "betting penetration" at a full single deck table. In other words, if one is sitting at 3d base of a single deck table, the "playing penetration" is good on the second round, but betting penetration is only about 19 cards!
Dealers have different loyalties. Often they are just worried about keeping their jobs. Also, casino management often thinks only in terms of day-to-day results and not of the long-term. Thus, if a dealer can *legally* increase the win rate on his table [with clueless customers] by preferential shuffling and the boss sanctions it, he may well do so.
Bottom line - Deal some kitchen table single deck and see when the dealer *actually* runs out of cards and when he/she cannot - and *always* watch to make sure dealers on single deck games are consistent in their penetration. Also be cognizant of the type of establishment you are in. I doubt you would run into preferential shuffling at a nice place like the Peppermill in Reno, but you certainly might run into it at a place where Clowns run around and trip over 5-year olds.
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