Shuffling Cards In The Casino

It’s pretty hard to prove that there’s a card mechanic at work unless you have hidden cameras on the premises in some fancy casino; and even then, you might not be able to see the moves. But if the mechanic detects any unrest, he’ll probably decide to put away his tricks until another day.

Palming a card during a shuffle is the classic mechanic’s trick. If you think that’s only done by hockey magicians at ladies’ aid benefits or children’s birthday parties, stay away from card games.

On the other hand, palming is a particularly dangerous trick because you run the risk of being caught with the evidence, well, in your palm. The dealer keeps a good card out by letting it rest in the palm of his hand as he shuffles. Then he slips it into his hand as he shuffles, then slips it into his hand during the deal.

More sophisticated are techniques (such as riffle-stacking) which depend on the card manipulator’s speed, counting ability, and finely developed sense of touch.

Good cards are pre-located by the shuffler, then slipped into the deck in whatever order and position he desires. Thus, the dealer will know that the fourth, seventh, sixteenth and twenty-first cards are aces. And he will know who’s holding them, even if it’s not himself.

Of course, he can deal all four aces to himself, if he wants to, by giving them positions in the decks that correspond to his turn at the deal.

Another highly successful shuffling cheat is the fake-overhand shuffle. Because this move is so easy for an expert to execute and so difficult to detect, most good card players insist on classic shuffling with both halves of the deck down on the table.

In the overhead shuffle, cards are held in the dealer’s hand and fed into the other hand, supposedly interlacing them in the process. The mechanic can hold a desired card on top or bottom of the deck. Simply by feeling where that card is and not letting it interlace until the end of the shuffle.

Nevertheless, just because a dealer puts the deck down on the table to shuffle doesn’t mean he’s honest. In the push-through, for instance, just as the name suggests, the two halves of the deck. While the shuffler appears to combine them, are actually pushed through each other and wind up as two separate halves again, arranged, just as they were before.

The dealer appears to push the deck together after a shuffle. But then cuts the cards by dividing the two halves that he has secretly been keeping separate all along. If you were sitting behind the dealer you would see the two halves of the deck interlaced. But not lined up, with some of the cards protruding at a marked angle to the others. In the casinos, from where the players sit, however, the deck looks squared.

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