“Never Play a Blackjack Table with a Continuous Shuffle Machine”
Talk to a typical, educated blackjack player, and that is one line that you will often hear. It is fairly widely believed that these machines ruin the game, because they take away from the ebbs and flows of a typical deck or shoe. This is because a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM) does exactly what its name suggests, and that’s continuously shuffle the cards.
But that’s not all bad. A lot of blackjack players aren’t’ counting cards or even adjusting their bets. If you’re the type of player who bets the same amount per hand and plays perfect basic strategy, then a CSM might be the right game for you. This is because the basic strategy card always assumes a full deck or shoe. The second hands of cards are dealt out of the deck, the basic strategy card isn’t exactly correct for how a hand should be played.
However, if you are playing a CSM machine, then all cards are always in play. This makes playing basic strategy more of a science. But this only holds true if you are not counting cards or adjusting your bet. If you are doing either of those things, then a CSM ruins any sort of betting strategy or counting scheme.
I typically play a positive progression betting system. This means that I am trying to capitalize on blackjack hot streaks and minimize losses on the cold streaks. This works better in a shoe where the cards can be shuffled in a way to hit more 10s and Aces in a “sweet spot” of the shoe. With a CSM, this logic is out the window. I could still hit a streak, but it would be much more random than in a shoe. The same goes with card counters, who are unable to apply their profession at all using a CSM.
It is also worth mentioning that a table that uses a CSM is a table that does not need to take a break to shuffle cards. This means that the casino can get in more hands per hour, which would increase the player’s expected loss.
While CSMs have their downside, I don’t believe they are the evil that people are out to believe them to be. Using basic strategy, they actually lower the house edge. Using a CSM is akin to shuffling a shoe after every hand, which makes following the basic strategy chart much more accurate. While you play more hands and have a higher expected loss, you also don’t have the downtime of waiting for the shoe to be shuffled. CSMs certainly aren’t perfect, in fact they are far from it, but I don’t think they are as awful as their reputation would suggest.