Could Shufflemasters Be Rigged?

Photo by Vickola

Is the legendary Shufflemaster rigged? This is a touchy subject and source of intense, on-going debate. Arguments from both sides include personal anecdotes, calling out the selling points around sorting, and even pointing to card detection capabilities in patent filing. However, card shuffling machines have a long history in the world of casinos and it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be going away any time soon.

Most of the concern around whether these systems are rigged comes from knowledge of

how powerful technology can be, no matter what size box it comes in. The modern capabilities of photo detection and object recognition are undoubtedly powerful enough for card detection. Because cards are so uniform in their design, this becomes a rather vanilla problem for machine detection to tackle.

Long before object recognition technology, there has been a market for ideas which have the power to streamline the card tables in casinos. The motives are obvious, as both players and casinos can benefit from more efficient game play.

Some feedback below (comments have been closed):

“Most casinos use shufflemasters for their ultimate poker tables. The only casino I’ve found that still uses hand shuffling is Bally’s in Atlantic City. I’m not sure how I feel about shufflemasters. Apparently, every card that goes through is recorded. The pit bosses always type into the computer when new players sit down and leave in order to as the dealers say “record player activity to help the players get comps.” But if these computers were connected to the shufflemaster, the shufflemaster would know how many players are playing and would know which cards would be going to the players and which would go to the dealer. It wouldn’t be difficult for the shufflemaster to manipulate the cards into giving the dealer better cards than the players. Have you ever been on such a cold streak that you thought the game might be rigged? Let me know what you think.” casinobuster

“One time playing ultimate hold’em, I was sitting in the last seat the dealer deals to. The table was on a huge cold streak. Nobody was getting anything more than a pair for several hands in a row, and the dealer kept hitting big hands. A new player sat down to play, but the pit boss was busy with a situation at another table and didn’t notice. Now, I would be getting the cards that would have been going to the dealer had the new guy not sat down. That next hand, I got a 4-of-a-kind. I then won the next 4 hands and decided to quit while I was ahead. I’m not positive that the shufflemaster is rigged, but that was quite a coincidence.” sfs55

“I have played ultimate holdem four different times at casinos with shufflemasters, and I never got the idea that the game was rigged. The hands pretty much went 50/50 between the dealer and the players each time. I would fluctuate between up a little and down a little in each session.” ghbiggs

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they were rigged, but i don’t know. there are a lot of variables that are constantly changing that would hurt the casino if the shufflemaster was rigged. If the pit boss messes up the count of players or forgets to put it into the system or doesn’t see players leave or come to the table, it would cause the players or last player to beat the casino until it was fixed in the computer system. I don’t know if the casino upper management would be willing to take the risk.” ultimatetexan78

“I agree with ultimatetexan. the casinos already make plenty of money off ultimate holdem poker, especially when people play trips and play with overly conservative strategies. they don’t need to rig the shufflemaster machines since that risk of messing up is there.” CharlesWellingtonIX

“I’m a little skeptical of the shufflemasters. One time, there were 4 of us playing at an ultimate table, and we all lost 5 hands in a row to the dealer. The probability of this happening naturally just seems very very small. I mean 5 hands in a row? I could understand 1 or 2 but 5? And how did one of us not win just once doing those 5 hands? 2 of the people got cleaned out during that streak and had to leave.” bluedevilz

“Never seen anything that bad. The shufflemasters seem fine to me. I’ve been playing for a couple years and never had an issue.” buzzpoker

“I am suspicious of them as well. The fact that they record the cards that are dealt is scary. I’ve seen some goofy stuff like pocket rockets to the dealer two hands in a row. I usually end up or just down a little so I can’t really complain though.” texasholdem3

“Machine shufflers are rigged try playing texas holdem in a casino you’ll see the difference between a hand shuffle flop and a machine shuffle flop the casino’s say they like it because they get more hands played that’s a bunch of crap I use to play a casino poker room with both machine and hand shuffle games if I had to wait for and hour just to get on a hand shuffle game I would wait… They just add them to get more action in the pot so they could get there rakes if your playing pot limit holdem beware you ain’t chasing nobody out on a draw hand I nevered seen so many four to the flush opened ended draws and pair’s on the flops.. don’t get me wrong you can still win if your seat has a hot streak for a couple hour’s but if you stay there to long it will get cold and you’ll take A lot of bad beats on the turn and river even with premium hands so you know It’s time to rack up and cash out.. the casino’s don’t care who wins in the poker game your not play against the house your playing against other player’s there just there to deal the card’s and get the rakes … So my advice if your stuck playing on a machine shuffle table play no limit instead of pot limit game’s so at least you can protect your premium hands with a big raise pre-flop ..or find a casino that offers hand shuffle game’s If you don’t see what I’m talking about go to the casino poker room for yourself and try your luck or just be a bystander at a poker table and watch how many suck outs you see on the turn and river best of luck hope thus was helpful” Sean

“I supervised my dealer deal this game manually, she dealt herself consecutively the winning hand 5 times. Idk how they have the shuffle master setup in usa, but in the southern hemisphere, there is no connection to the pit stand. One lead to the power Jack that is it. It seems to be the run of the cards. I don’t see why a casino has the need to rig equipment, as the house always wins.” exp_dealer

“Any machine that can put the cards in order can be programmed to spit out the winning hands. Such as it is withe automated shuffler aka The Shufflemaster. The Ritz Carlton San Juan Puerto Rico started using the I-deal brand (also from Shufflemaster) shuffling machine when they started up with UTH two months ago (June, 2014). Because these machines have the capability to read the cards for suit and value, they can have the machine set the order of cards and frequency of wins.. The RC-SJU knows they will have a captive audience that turns over every third or fourth day and will not be able to follow the frequency of wins by the dealer. I’ve been “observing” the play at the RC-San Juan since they started the game and it’s obvious the algorithm is set to about 80/20 or 85/15 in favor of the house. If you’re in the right seat, you will be the slowest loser. For everyone else, its caveat emptor.” Mitch Smith

“I Have just come across this feed and find it quit funny. Why is it that when people loose their money they feel the cards are fixed. The old MFS and now the newer OTS card shufflers are totally random. there are made for the casinos to get as many hand in one hour as possible. the dealer can take too long to shuffle where the machine is constant. there is only one lead connected to the unit and that is the mains.” vince

“No way are they rigged- no casino is gonna risk a lawsuit in case some employees started leaking that they were rigged. they already have the advantage in every game in there, don’t need the added risk” sam