Learn How to Shuffle a Deck, It Can Give You the Upper Hand
Style and skill go hand in when playing any card game. Yes, it’s important to have the knowledge of the strategies and how to play effectively – and have the skill to match equally adept opponents. But it’s also important to have the flair and style to play like a pro.
Looking like you know what you’re doing is part and parcel of every card game. So learning some new shuffling tips and tricks will give your opponents the idea that you’re a whizz at whatever you’re playing. And in some games, that might just help you win! There are 52! (52 factorial) different combinations of a shuffled pack of cards – which is 52 x 51 x 50 x 49… – which equates to a number too big to even categorize (8.06e+67). The number is so big it was even featured on an episode of The Big Bang Theory. While there are slightly fewer different ways to shuffle the deck, each one comes with its own specialty card game.
The Blackjack Shuffle
The Blackjack Shuffle is named after the way the blackjack dealers shuffle the cards. The better the handiwork, the less effort it looks like it takes, to the point where the cards hardly look like they’re moving. Plus, the cards are damaged the least and barely bent when shuffled this way. Benefits also include the deck’s better cards being evenly distributed, which is especially important when playing against a dealer who needs to reach at least 17 before declaring your hand victorious or not. Simply square the deck, split it into two equal stacks, and lay them at an angle towards one another. Touch the bottom two inner corners of the decks with your thumbs, and your index fingers on the diagonal corners, giving a tight grasp on the cards. Draw the bottom corners upwards and then let them cascade down as in a regular shuffle, so that they are slightly intertwined with one another. Then, simply slot the cards back together, square the deck, and repeat a few more times.
The Strip Shuffle
The Strip Shuffle, also known as Running Cuts, is a technique used most when shuffling the deck for poker. Poker requires not just strategy, but appearance, so a strong shuffle is important – just ask President Harry Truman, who reportedly cruised the Potomac River regularly playing 8-aside poker games. Place the cards landscape in front of you, and split the deck in two. Take the top half of the deck you just removed and drop the cards back onto the pile on the table. Drop the others on top. Repeat this a multitude of times, and then most dealers give the cards a secondary shuffle. The Strip Shuffle is used in poker because the randomness that is necessary is guaranteed and the deck is split in a marked way. Shuffle Tech, an online program that shuffles an imaginary deck to help choose a random card argues that a deck should be shuffled around six or seven times to be truly shuffled. While the Strip Shuffle looks fairly impressive at a fast pace, if you complete it off the table and in your palm – doing the Hindu Shuffle – you will look even more impressive. And in poker, looking the part is half the battle.
The Overhand Shuffle
Though, perhaps showing off card shuffling expertise may give away your skills at the card table. So, the overhand shuffle is arguably the easiest way to shuffle a deck of cards, and the one that most people do instinctively when playing for fun. You palm a pack of cards, horizontally across your palm, and lift a portion of the deck up. Then allow it to fall towards another section of the deck. Do this umpteen times and you’ll have sufficiently shuffled the deck. The overhand shuffle is commonly found in bridge, which is a misrepresented game as far as the casino community is concerned, and far easier to play than most people think. While this is the easiest way to shuffle cards, this is also the least trusted way to give a fair and even shuffle, so while it may suffice, the other methods are much better for ensuring randomization with the cards.
More Shuffling Techniques
The above shuffles are the tried and tested ones for the best shuffle in various games that depend on the randomization of the deck. Other games, such as Snap, don’t require as thorough a shuffling as the card itself isn’t being tested, the speed of the players is. And, while you can always make up a shuffling technique, and almost anything can classify as a way to shuffle cards, the best ones are always the ones that have proven time and again to work – and look good. Card shuffling is equally about flair as well as about ensuring the deck is fair. That’s why shuffling is such an important part of prestidigitation (sleight of hand shuffling). Although most commonly used in “magic” tricks, it can also found anywhere where the card player wants to showcase their expertise with the cards through their knowledge of the shuffle.
Knowing some strong shuffles might not help your card game strategy, but it will certainly show your opponent that you’ve done your homework and mean business. It may, in some cases, also allow you to notice if your opponent is attempting to pull one over on you with the way they shuffle. It can never hurt to know the best way to shuffle a deck of cards.