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Casino Card Shuffling Explained

Card shuffling is a crucial element in card and table games. It puts the ‘chance’ in games of chance by randomizing the deck of cards and ensuring that the casino game is fair for both you and the house.

Land-based casinos often shuffle cards using automated shuffling machines to avoid any suspicion of the dealer by the players. In live casino games, cards are simultaneously shuffled from two dealers’ shoes. This can be done manually by the dealer or mechanically by an automated shuffling machine.

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The art of casino card shuffling is a thrilling skill to master. There are several shuffling techniques to learn including the Riffle Shuffle, the Hindu Shuffle and the Overhand Shuffle, to name but a few.

Basics of Shuffling

There are many ways to shuffle cards, but if you’re playing a casino card game, chances are they’re being shuffled the casino way. A standard casino shuffle follows this process:

  • Start with a wash or a scramble.
  • Move on to three riffle shuffles.
  • A strip shuffle.
  • Another riffle shuffle.
  • End with a cut card.

Cut cards serve as a guarantee that the dealer has not tampered with the cards and further reduce the risk of cheating.

The act of shuffling cards should protect the game’s integrity, by successfully randomizing the deck and making sure that no card is exposed in the shuffle. The purpose of shuffling is to make sure you get a fair game for both you and the casino, as well as increasing the chance aspect of the game.

Different Shuffling Techniques

Overhand Shuffle

The Overhand Shuffle is probably the best technique to begin your card shuffling training with, as it is straightforward and a good shuffle technique to use for card tricks. You repeatedly take small groups of cards from the top of the deck and place them at the bottom, creating a random order.

Wash Shuffle

The Wash Shuffle involves spreading the cards across the table and then having the dealer thoroughly mix them.

It may be considered as an amateur way to shuffle, but the Wash remains a standard across casinos the world over. It is often used at the beginning of a game.

Riffle Shuffle

The Riffle Shuffle is a good technique to begin with, when it comes to learning how to card shuffle, as it can be used with any number of cards.

To begin this procedure, start by dividing the deck equally in two, one half for each hand. Bring the halves close together and with your thumbs, riffle the cards upwards from the short edge of each half deck. The corners of the cards from each pile should overlap each other so that you can push the halves together once you riffled through them all. It is important to keep the cards low to the table when doing this, to avoid revealing them to other players.

Hindu Shuffle

The Hindu Shuffle is a popular technique used in Asia. To nail down this technique, begin by holding your deck in one hand and picking up a small number of cards from the top of the deck with the other. Let the small number of cards fall into the hand with which you grabbed them, and repeat once again. This technique is great for keeping your cards straight and is a simple, quick, and easy way to mix up the deck.

Mechanics of Casino Card Shuffling

A capable dealer can shuffle the deck, distribute the cards to the players, and turn up community cards at the center of the table. If, of course, the game being played requires this. Dealers tend to be experienced in shuffling techniques, dealing styles, card control, and flourishing.

Most professional dealers will have spent four to six weeks in dealing school. It isn’t an easy job, with many long and late hours spent sitting in the same place and repeating the same movements.

Professional dealers are recognizable for their ability to deal hands quickly and efficiently. After demonstrating one or more of the shuffling techniques mentioned above, professional dealer techniques include dealing the cards clockwise and ‘sailing cards’. The latter sees the dealer deal the cards from a long distance with accuracy and speed to the players. The faster dealers can shuffle and distribute the cards, the larger the tip they receive from the players.

Nowadays, it is a rare sight to witness a dealer shuffle cards in a land-based casino. Automatic shuffling machines have taken over the role, as they are designed and regulated to ensure fair play for both the player and the casino. They are often used in land-based casinos as they provide less risk when it comes to randomizing cards.

Machines are also capable of shuffling an entire deck in one go. They are used to better protect the health and safety of dealers, as by using them alone or in conjunction with a live dealer, they reduce occurrences of repetitive strain injury stress on dealers.

Today, automatic shuffling machines are controlled through AI and serve the interests of both gamblers and the house, as they are free from human error and reduce the possibility of cheating in the game. They are reliable and make it difficult for players to count cards and shuffle tracks.


As with most card and table games, in blackjack, the dealer shuffles cards to make sure that they are dealt in a random order so the game is just as possible for the casino and the players to win, respectively.

In a single-deck game of blackjack, decks are shuffled often through an automated shuffling machine or the dealer’s shoe, making it very difficult for players to count cards. In a multi-deck game of blackjack, the deck order the dealer’s shoe will be shuffled by the dealer when 40 to 60% of the cards have been used. Oftentimes decks will also include a cut card, which acts as a signal of when to shuffle.

In online blackjack, shuffles occur after every hand, through automated mechanics.


In poker, dealers go through a full shuffling process and procedure that involves a Wash, Riffle and Strip Shuffle, and a cut card. They then proceed to deal the cards through either the European or American style of dealing.

Dealers who opt for the European style of dealing only touch the top of the cards being dealt. The card is pushed from the top of the deck onto the poker table and is usually sent to the receiving players through some sort of spin.

The American style of dealing sees the dealer holding the deck in one hand and using the same thumb of the hand that holds the deck to send the card to the pitching hand. The cards are then pitched off the top of the deck by using the middle finger and are sent ‘flying’ across to the receiving player.

This is a tough skill to acquire as while the cards are being pitched, they can never be exposed to the other players at the table and must land face down. The dealer often distributes each player one card in a clockwise manner, until all the players have two cards each. After each hand, the button, which represents which player is the dealer of the round, moves one seat.


Baccarat is not at risk of shuffle tracking as is the case in other table and card games. It is a fast-paced game of high stakes, and time spent complicating card handling rules is not afforded in this game of quick decisions.

Shuffling in Online Casinos

In live dealer games, casino card shuffling often occurs through a mix of manual and mechanical shuffling. Two dealer shoes will be shuffled separately, with one shoe shuffled by an automated shuffling machine and the other shoe shuffled by the live dealer. In online casino games, the shuffling of cards is usually determined by a Random Number Generator (RNG).

Casino Card Shuffling FAQs

How do you shuffle cards in casinos?

In land-based casinos, cards are often shuffled by automated shuffling machines. In live dealer casinos, they are often shuffled through a combination of both manual and mechanical shuffling from a live dealer and a machine.

Why do casinos shuffle cards?

Casinos shuffle cards to guarantee the fairest game possible for both the player and the house. Shuffling cards randomizes the deck and preserves the game’s integrity as the possibility of cheating is reduced.

How many times do casinos shuffle cards?

Casinos may vary how many times they shuffle cards, but usually, automated shuffling machines shuffle the cards automatically and often. In the case of a game where multiple decks of cards are used, the casino usually shuffles the cards when 40-60 % of the dealer’s shoe has been used.

Do casinos use card shuffling machines?

Yes, casinos use card shuffling machines as they are more reliable and avoid suspicion of the dealer from players.

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