Shuffling the decks of cards in blackjack is an important part of the game. Blackjack Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM) are helping dealers ensure the cards are properly shuffled and cut before every hand. Because cards become a lot less predictable if they are all reshuffled before each hand, it becomes crucial for players to devise their own, solid and reliable, blackjack continuous shuffling machine strategy.
CSM is the abbreviated term for Continuous Shuffling Machine.
What are Continuous Shuffling Machines?
Blackjack CSMs are used in most casinos these days in order to circumvent the most basic blackjack strategies. They are beneficial to casino operators in how they prevent card counting, for example, and also for casual blackjack players who don't even know about them. On the other hand, professional players tend to focus on crafting the right blackjack strategy against CSM, or avoid them completely when possible.
Continuous Shuffling Machines
Continuous Shuffling Machines (CSM) are combinations of an automatic shuffler and a dealing shoe. When a round of betting is complete, the dealer will scoop out the cards just played already and instead of putting these into a discard tray, he will insert them into the CSM for getting shuffled with the remaining decks of cards.
Continuous Shuffling Machines shuffle 3-5 decks of cards together and make card counting almost impossible as it is very difficult to predict which cards are left in the shoe.
CSM blackjack was primarily introduced to discourage card counting in casinos.
An Auto Shuffler takes all the cards, about 6 to 8 decks, and shuffles them together automatically and with better consistency than a dealer would. After this, the dealer takes the full stack of cards, gets it cut by a player, and puts it into the shoe before dealing. The auto shufflers or random shufflers are safer from a player's perspective. They include all of the cards so, there is no confusion, and the game speeds up as well.
Dealer Shoes can be used in any blackjack game being played with more than 2 decks of cards. Dealer Shoe games are highly susceptible to card counting. The more the number of decks, the lower is the advantage of the game for the player. However, there are other factors such as better rules and more tolerance that increase the odds of winning for a player.
House Edge for Blackjack Tables with CSM
In blackjack, the higher the number of decks used, the higher is the house edge percentage. For blackjack tables with CSM, it is like playing with a freshly shuffled shoe each time and that is why; many players want to avoid these tables. Surprisingly though, in CSM blackjack, the more decks used, the better it is for the player because the odds in his favor improve. Accordingly, while a single deck or a 2 deck game leads to a 0.113% and 0.063% reduction in the house edge, a 4 deck and a 6 deck game lead to a 0.028% and 0.020% reduction in the house edge respectively. And finally, an 8 deck game reduces 0.014% of the house edge, which indicates a 0.48% higher chance of winning for the player.
That being said, beating the house edge in a multi-deck game with CSM becomes tricky. However, in such games, there will be quite a few favorable rules for the player such as the option to double down on any two cards, double after split, re-split aces, and also to surrender. These options, when chosen strategically, will further reduce the house edge to about ½ of 1%.
Sometimes, a game of blackjack can be as streaky as to appear rigged. But this does not eliminate the possibilities of good streaks happening. Players need to be observant enough to identify those streaks and take advantage out of the situation. The strategy to beat the house edge here would be to raise the bet incrementally once the player starts winning and spot a few winners too.
As a formula, a player can raise the wager by about 25% on each hand during a winning streak of hands. These streaks might not come in a row. Just as he loses a few, it is best to drop back down to the minimum wager in order to avoid losing a huge sum.
Strategies That Works with CSM in Blackjack
Players can play using a CSM blackjack strategy while playing against a dealer using this machine for shuffling the cards. CSM doesn't always prove disadvantageous for the players. In fact, the more the number of decks used in the game, the better are the chances for the player to reduce the house edge to a minimum. For this, the player needs to follow certain rules after taking a look at his own two cards and the dealer's up card. A blackjack strategy chart is useful here since it will show you which actions improve your chances of winning.
Accordingly, for hard hands from 12 to 17 and higher, the ideal option for the player is to Hit. However, he should consider a Stand based on the dealer's up card. So, for a 12, you need to stand against a dealer up card of 4, 5, or 6, for 13, 14, and 16, Stand against a dealer up card of 2 through 6. If the player has a hard hand of 17, he must Stand unless he has a split of a soft hand. On the other hand, for a hard double of 9, the player must Double against a dealer up card of 3 through 6, otherwise, Hit. For 10, he must Double against a dealer up card of 2 through 9, or else Hit and for 11, he should Double against a dealer up card of 2 through 10, otherwise Hit.
When the player receives a pair, he must usually Split against the dealer up card of 2 through 7 or else, Hit. There are exceptions to this also. For instance, a 4/4 hand demands a Hit always, a 5/5 hand requires using the Doubling rules as a Ten, an 8/8 and A/A hand that must always be split, and a 10/10 hand that should never be split.
Soft hands, on the other hand, are more flexible and easier to play with. The rules are simpler too. For hands like A2/A3, A4/A5, and A6, the player must Double Down against a dealer up card of 3 through 6 (depending on the soft hand), otherwise, Hit. For A7, the player should ideally Double against a dealer up card of 3, 4, 5, or 6, Stand against 2, 7, or 8, and Hit against a 9, 10, or Ace.
These strategies for both automatic shufflers and CSM in blackjack will certainly work in favor of the player, provided the player strategically applies the rules and deviates, only when absolutely necessary to do so. The same strategy can apply to online live dealer blackjack which generally also uses a CSM device.
Using Card Counting With Multi Deck CSM
Card Counting in Blackjack is the process of identifying which cards are left in the deck, by keeping a count of the cards being played. It is a difficult skill to learn and master and even more tricky to implement especially in multi-deck games with CSM.
In general, depending on how many decks are being used in the blackjack game, players or card counters need to adjust their wagers. When the count is negative, the house edge increases and the player gets down to the lowest possible wager. Waiting till the next shuffle is the best thing to do at such times. When the count goes positive, the player can quickly get a larger wager into action. Multi-deck games offer more shoes per hour, thereby, increasing the overall win rate of the player.
In CSM blackjack, card counting is nearly impossible because the dealer keeps putting back the discard cards into the machine for shuffling. However, on rare occasions, when the dealer actually forgets to do so, the player can attempt at counting cards. For this, the player needs to count the cards as normal and capitalizing later when the croupier mistakenly forgets to insert the card clumps into the machine. This way, the player is allowed about 75% of deck penetration and a better chance at winning more money.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing a Blackjack Table with CSM
Playing at a blackjack table with CSM, although avoided by most blackjack players, actually has its set of both pros and cons as discussed here.
Advantages of CSM in Blackjack include:
More Hands Available
CSM blackjack means blackjack with at least 6-8 decks of cards. Plus, each time, the discard cards are inserted back into the machine for shuffling. This leads to more hands being available in the game.
With CSM, the blackjack game is more continuous and will not stop suddenly. When a player is on a hot streak, he does not want to affect the momentum and hates it when the game stops, as it happens with hand-shuffled games. CSM blackjack ensures that the dealer does not need to halt the game. It is just a matter of few seconds when they can insert the card clumps into the machine and take them out afterward.
CSM speeds up the game of blackjack by preventing the dealer from holding the game for a considerable time as they shuffle. Many gamblers prefer such faster games for better engagement and entertainment.
Lower House Edge
It is a fact that a CSM blackjack with 8 decks of cards does not increase the house edge but actually lowers it by 0.014%. Thus, players do get a slightly better chance at winning each hand.
Drawbacks of using CSM at a Blackjack table include:
At CSM blackjack, players cannot take a break, which is certainly a disadvantage for a game that involves extensive mental strategies. Unlike hand-shuffled games, CSM blackjack does not give the player any time or opportunity to collect his thoughts and refocus after breaking from an action.
Ruins the Feel of the Game
Many blackjack players believe that bringing an automatic machine into the game ruins the classic feeling of playing blackjack. The game, as a whole, appears to be more automated and less exciting for many players.
CSM blackjack means more exposure to the house advantage because the house always has a 0.5%-2% advantage. That is why; playing at blackjack tables with CSM means long-term losses, also because the game goes on for a long time. Plus, card counting with CSM is practically impossible, which is another disadvantage of the system.
Blackjack CSM: FAQ
Answers to the most common questions about continuous shuffling machines in blackjack.
What is CSM in blackjack tables?
CSM in blackjack tables is a Continuous Shuffler Machine that is used for a thorough shuffling of the cards. The dealer puts back the already played or discard cards into the CSM along with the remaining deck at each turn, in the course of the game.
Do they decrease player's edge?
While many players assume that CSM decreases their odds of winning, CSM blackjack with more decks of cards actually lowers the house edge by 0.014%. With fewer decks of cards, the house edge is indeed increased when using a continuous shuffling machine.
What strategy should I use for tables that use CSM?
The basic blackjack strategy works well for blackjack tables with CSM. However, at tables that use CSM, card counting is almost impossible since all cards are placed back in the shoe and reshuffled before every new hand.
What are the advantages of CSM to a player?
Some of the advantages of a CSM to a blackjack player include the possibility of a faster and continuous game, availability of more hands and a lower house edge.
Can casinos cheat players by rigging their CSM?
No, it is unlikely for casinos to cheat players by rigging their CSM because this can lead to the casino losing its license.
So, the use of CSM in blackjack with its advantages and disadvantages is still now, debated among players. However, it is turning out to be common in many casinos, necessitating players to devise solid strategies to improve their chances of winning.