Dear Mark: If a card counter has an advantage over the casino, wouldn’t it be to the card counter’s advantage to have more hands per hour via a continuous shuffler? – Travis C.

You’ve read it here before, Travis, and you’ll read it again. Speed kills in a casino environment.

Involving what is called “incremental game speed,” the more 99.9 percent of players are exposed to the built-in house advantage on any game the casino offers, the more haste will lay waste to their bankroll.

Most certainly, an automatic shuffler does speed up a blackjack game, and with a continuous shuffler, even more so.

However, reasoning that more hands per hour against a continuous shuffler will automatically allow the house edge to favor the counter is erroneous because continuous shufflers operate by hand-by-hand randomness, making counting cards unmanageable.

Even if you are not a card counter, Travis, continuous shufflers work against you because there are no breaks to change decks and cut the cards, meaning the hands come at a much faster pace than those using non-continuous machine shufflers.

If all other rules are equal, the best games for basic strategy players and the average joe alike are single- and double-deck hand-shuffled games, followed by six- or eight-deck hand-shuffled shoes. These will yield the fewest hands per hour.

Up next are regular machine-shuffled games where the cards are taken out of the machine and put into a shoe, and the worst games for players are those that use continuous shufflers.

True, card counters do want a faster-paced game with more hands per hour, especially when they have an edge on the casino. So, yes, they do prefer regular machine-shuffled or hand-shuffled games, but you will never see them on a continuous shuffler.


Dear Mark: Is using a player’s card worth it? I don’t seem to win any additional money whether I use one or not. – Nancy C.

Are you asking, Nancy, if you are going to win more if you use one? Of course not! That’s not what they are for.

The benefit from using a player’s card is for the slot player to have their play recognized and to earn cash back and comps.

The math of comps is that the casino will return a certain percentage of their expected win in rewards for play. Your expected loss will always be more than the comps are worth.

Besides, Nancy, using a rewards card doesn’t cost you anything—sort of.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say it doesn’t cost you anything. You are expected to circulate your hard-earned cash through a one-armed bandit to get those goodies.

Dear Mark: Every time the dealers have an ace showing, they seem to always get a blackjack. What are the odds of a dealer getting a blackjack with an ace exposed? – Jerry C.

Using a six-deck shoe as an example, there are 96 (16 x 6) 10-point cards (10, jack, queen, king) in the deck.

Eliminating the ace showing, there are 311 (52 x 6 – 1) possible cards under the ace. Thus, the odds of a blackjack appearing are 96/311, or 30.86 percent.

I’d say, Jerry, that’s a tad bit less than “always.”


Gambling Wisdom of the Month: “Care and diligence bring good luck.” ¬– Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732)

Mark Pilarski is a recognized authority on casino gambling, having survived 18 years in the casino trenches. Pilarski is the creator of the bestselling, award-winning audio book series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.

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