Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House

Ellis C. Davis, co-founder of beatthecasino.com and expert baccarat and blackjack player, strongly believes casinos are able to present a baccarat shoe with a desired bias on command. That is, he believes that a dealer or pit-boss can control the shuffle to artificially create a shoe that is choppy (frequently alternating wins between P and B), streaky (long runs of wins for either P or B), or neutral (including both choppy and streaky characteristics without discernible pattern), and that casinos routinely employ this manipulation as a defense against players who are winning with a certain style of play. For example, if a player is winning choppy shoes with a method that wins against the chop, the casino will present to him a streaky shoe in the next game to purposely try to foil his play and cause him to start losing.

I greatly respect Ellis’ knowledge and experience in the game, which are far greater than mine, and I acknowledge that his methods are theoretically sound and practically effective. If he believes casinos are able to present a baccarat shoe with a desired bias on command, I will not dismiss his theory lightly.

However, my admittedly naive opinion is that no such thing happens in reality. For the sake of discussion, here are what I perceive to be some flaws in the shuffle control theory.

1. If casinos are able to present a biased shoe on command, they are opening up themselves to massive cheating opportunities by employees.

Dealers and pit-bosses barely get paid a subsistence salary, and they do not share in the house’s profits. While their Big Bosses are getting richer by the millions every day, they are themselves barely eeking out a living. Moreover, I doubt many of them love their jobs, which must get quite dreary day after day.

But wait! They have at their control the ability to present a certain biased shoe in baccarat! So, it should take less than a millisecond for all of those dealers and pit-bosses to realize they can completely take advantage of this ability.

How? Simply find a trusted accomplice who is not employed at the casino, use signaling to indicate what bias the present shoe exhibits (for example, rub my nose = choppy, scratch my ear = streaky, etc), and let the accomplice play the appropriate system to match. They don’t have to be greedy: a few thousand a day would keep them under the radar. Heck – forget about keeping under the radar: Have a field day to bring down the house and comfortably retire ever after!

Indeed, if casinos really can present biases on command, every single dealer and pit-boss at every casino in the world would be partnered up with such accomplices; it would be utterly stupid for them not to.

Well, who knows, maybe they all are!

This would work especially well at an on-line casino. Programmers don’t get paid too much either; well, maybe better than dealers and pit-bosses at land casinos, but nothing compared with their Big Bosses. A programmer who has the ability to electronically control the shoe doesn’t even need an accomplice to take a nice chunk of Big Boss’ profits: just open up an account under an alias and use that account to always bet according to the selected bias. Indeed, he could just program the computer to automatically bet 24/7 according to the bias, and making thousands of dollars per day in bonus would be effortless.

So, to prevent such obvious ways to cheat, it would be in the best interest of the house to present a truly random game, which no employee could easily take advantage of.

2. Ellis once said that if baccarat were truly a random game, then it could not be beaten. That is, he stated that the only way for players to consistently win at baccarat is to take advantage of artificially biased shoes. If that were true, then it would be in the best interest of a casino to present a truly random game. The casino would not want to present biased shoes, because according to Ellis, only biased shoes are winnable, and the last thing it would want to do is purposely present a game that’s winnable. By presenting a truly random game, it is assured that no one would be able to consistently win (according to Ellis), and the Law of Large Numbers guarantees it will hold at least the expected house edge in the long run. No cheating is necessary. No opportunities are created for players or employees to take advantage of artificial biases.

Look at it another way: If a casino really could control the shuffle, it would seem that the very best shoe to always present is the “neutral” shoe, not particularly choppy nor streaky. Players who play chop would win half the shoe and lose the other half. Players who play streak would likewise always be 50/50. The only players who would consistently win are those who could play both chop and streak, as well as know when to switch between the two; not an easy task! Or, they would need to always net-bet with lower expectations for units won.

So, a persistently streaky or choppy shoe is the worst possible shoe a casino could present, and if they could control the shuffle, they would make sure all except neutral ones are eliminated.

3. Ellis once pointed to a 26% hold from baccarat tables in a certain year as evidence that the house was cheating by shuffle control. A few counter-points to that:

a. In the last year, the baccarat hold has dropped to 13% and then to 3.5% along the Vegas Strip (reference article here). So, it looks like the variation in the house hold is simply exhibiting normal statistical variance more than anything else.

b. The expected 1%-ish hold in baccarat assumes that every customer always flat bets the same side every time he plays. If he does so and does not bust in the mean time, he can expect to lose 1%-ish to the house in the long run. But how many players do that? Very, very few, if any. From what I have seen, people bet all over the place and in hugely varying amounts, usually increasing bets as they lose, or letting winnings ride, and usually they lose it all back to the house eventually. Humans are not robots, and greed and fear work in the house’s favor. In fact, the house counts on it; that’s what comps are all about. Winners get greedy, while losers chase their losses. The house’s hold will be much greater than the calculated house-edge as a result of simple human nature, no cheating necessary.

c. Moreover, the sucker bets of Tie and Dragon Bonuses greatly pad the hold. If a player always flat betted Tie, he would expect in the long run to lose about 10%-ish to the house. But how many people consistently flat bet Tie every hand? No, it’s usually something like, try once, try again, maybe try a third time, but then stop betting Ties. So, the actual house’s hold on Tie for most players is closer to 100%-ish, which far exceeds the 10%-ish expected house advantage. (Same holds true for Dragon bets.)

Well, from what I’ve seen, a 100%-ish house hold exists in normal Player/Banker bets!

By the way, if the loosely quoted statistic that 99% of baccarat players consistently lose is true, then the house’s hold is 100% for 99% of all baccarat players, which implies that the top 1% of baccarat players is winning 75%-97% of the total amount betted in baccarat (since the house’s effective hold is reportedly only 3%-25%). Somehow that doesn’t sound right! Either 1% of baccarat players are incredibly wealthy from their success at baccarat, or the number of baccarat players who win is much greater than 1%. Regardless, judging by how most baccarat players I’ve seen play, I’m not at all surprised that the baccarat hold is much greater than the expected edge.

So, while the expected mathematical advantage is the minimum expected, the house’s practical advantage can be much greater, thanks to inconsistent and emotional human customers.

4. The same kind of strategies that seem to work in baccarat are also successful in other even-bet games with low house edge, such as certain bets in roulette and craps (where some odds are even better than offered in baccarat). The same kind of apparent biases show up in the results of those games. So, does the house also have in its repertoire the ability to control the spinning of the wheel and the toss of the dice? Well, since in craps it is the player who throws the dice, the house would not be able to have any control in craps anyway.

Nevertheless, we still see the same kind of choppy and streaky trends and repeating patterns in the results of those games. If I showed you the result of 72 P/B hands in baccarat, 72 red/black results in roulette, or 72 even/odd results in craps, you would not be able to tell me which one came from which game. (Add to that list 72 randomly generated 0’s and 1’s and 72 heads/tails results from a coin toss.) So, if players are successfully using good strategies to win at baccarat, they should be able to do so playing roulette, craps, RNG, and any even-bet coin-toss game.

5. With regards to what “random” is: Random can show surprisingly frequent, strong biases. A string of random 0’s and 1’s can routinely exhibit strong apparent trends, repeating patterns, and consolidations.

My math professor enjoyed making two demonstrations:

a. He would tell the class, “I’m going to leave the classroom for a few minutes. When I’m gone, I want you to do two things. First, I want someone to record on the board a string of fifty 0’s and 1’s in any order you desire. Just have the class call out fifty 0’s and 1’s randomly and record them on one side of the board. Next, on the other side of the board, I want you to record the sequence of heads and tail from flipping a coin fifty times: 0’s for heads, 1’s for tails. So, flip a coin fifty times and write down the resulting sequence on the other side of the board. When I come back, I’ll try to guess which was the class’ sequence and which was the coin-toss sequence.”

He would always be able to guess correctly which sequence was which! How? He simply chose the sequence with the longest string of consecutive 0’s or 1’s, and that was always the coin-toss sequence. The class’ sequence would always be very messy, without many obviously repeating patterns, and that was the signature of an artificially constructed sequence. The point of his demonstration was that most people don’t realize how apparently “non-random” a truly random sequence can be. When they try to make a random sequence artificially, they make it very obviously non-random to the trained eye. Truly random sequences can commonly exhibit surprisingly strong, apparent biases.

b. In his second demonstration, he would generate on the computer large sets of random streams of 0’s and 1’s. Then, he would casually peruse the resulting random sequence and point out significantly long,  repeating patterns. 10+ consecutive 0’s or 1’s were quite common, or 10+ chops of alternating 0’s and 1’s.  Once he found 21 consecutive 0’s!  All of this from a completely unbiased random number generator, which has no ulterior motive to profit from its output.

So, my point is, if Random can produce strong, apparent biases, we have a mechanism to explain the apparent biases in baccarat shoes without needing to resort to accusing the casinos of cheating by controlling the shuffle. If controlling the shuffle were the only way to create biases, then, I would agree there would be a strong reason to suspect casino manipulation. But casino’s don’t need to cheat to produce apparent biases, because apparent biases frequently arise naturally completely from Random.

6. Ellis’ table-selection method, where a player seeks out tables which exhibit certain biases so that he can employ the appropriate method at that table, may certainly be effective without having to assume that the casino purposefully chose to present that bias in that particular shoe.

Perhaps it is a statistical phenomenon that biases in a baccarat shoe have a tendency to persist. After all, there are only about 72 hands in an 8-deck shoe, which is not a very large sample size at all. Even if biases persisted throughout a shoe in only 51% of shoes, Ellis’ table selection method can make consistent winners in the long run. In practice, I’m sure Ellis would report that the percentage of shoes where the bias persisted is much greater. Nevertheless, that in and of itself may just be a statistical phenomenon, rather than evidence of shuffle control.

Indeed, the very fact that exploitable, biased tables can be found by Ellis’ table-selection method suggest that casinos really can’t control the shuffle after all. If they could, they would make sure to always present neutral shoes, since those are by far the toughest to consistently win. If casinos could control the shuffle, you would never find persistently streaky or choppy shoes, since those shoes are so easily winnable (point #2 above). Nevertheless, table selection is Ellis’ first and foremost rule to consistently win at baccarat, so if this rule is working, it is working because what he is doing is benefiting from some statistical phenomenon based on the non-intuitive fact that strong biases frequently arise from naturally random processes, biases which I think casinos would much rather eliminate, rather than purposely manufacture.

My above points don’t prove casinos don’t cheat by shuffle control. My points simply suggest that they don’t have to, and in fact, if they do, they are making themselves vulnerable to being severely exploited. If I were a casino, it would be in my best interest to present a completely fair, random game, since the odds and human nature are entirely in my favor, and at the same time, I prevent creating any exploitable shoes or opportunities to cheat against me. Even if I could control the shuffle, I would make sure all the shoes I present all the time were neutral shoes, since they are hardest to consistently beat. The fact that persistently biased shoes do exist with surprisingly high frequency suggests to me that casinos cannot control the shuffle, and truly random process are at work. Assuming no casino manipulation exists, methods successful in baccarat should be able to win any truly random, even-bet, coin-toss-type of game.

With regards to cheating in general: I wouldn’t be surprised if other forms of cheating might be routinely employed by the casino to gouge customers: purposely mis-drawing, mis-calculating or neglecting payouts, incorrectly updating the tote-boards, all of which I have witnessed, although perhaps many of those instances were due to simple human error rather than intentional cheating. Moreover, it’s entirely conceivable that an on-line, computer-based game includes a subtle cheating algorithm to always win the critically large bets. Unscrupulous casinos could much more safely cheat using these methods rather than shuffle control, since these cheating methods are unidirectional and cannot be exploited by a customer or employee.

A side-note: In blackjack, I can see an advantage for the house to artificially clump high cards to defeat card counters who are using Basic Strategy, since the entire premise of Basic Strategy is to assume the dealer’s hole card has a value of 10. But in baccarat, since there is no decision making by the player once the draw commences, I see no real reason how shuffle control benefits the house, while many reasons why shuffle control could hurt it, as explained above.

Addendum: (from the subsequent discussion below)

I appreciate the discussion about shuffle control, and I wouldn’t put it past the casino to do anything it can to increase its edge. After all, Vegas wasn’t built on fair play but cheating to the core.  Nevertheless, I can find no objective evidence in the actual outcome of baccarat shoes dealt at live, physical casinos using Shufflemaster (SM) that their games are non-random.

If there is a real bias in live SM or hand-shuffled shoes, I would LOVE to find it. When I first started out playing baccarat, I bought into Ellis’ whole spiel about casino card manipulation and persistent bias, because he is right about one thing:  if baccarat players have any hope of winning long term, baccarat shoes must not be random.

However, as I performed statistical tests of live and my computer generated shoes, I could find nothing to distinguish one from the other. Please refer to the following studies in which I performed detailed analysis and comparisons of Zumma 600+1000 (supposedly gathered live from physical casinos), 2361 Live Shoes (all of which were personally collected by my friend and most of which were shuffled by SM), and my computer generated shoes:

P and B Events Statistics: A Comprehensive Comparison

My Baccarat Shoe Factory

I’ve performed many other tests, too, and I’m too lazy to dig up the results right now, lol. But in all my studies, I could find no signature in live SM or hand-shuffled shoes which would indicate they are not random and not for all intents and purposes identical to my computer generated, completely random shoes.

This is actually very disappointing to me, because it suggests that casinos (at least the ones from which the live shoes were collected) are being perfectly fair, not manipulating the shuffle, offering a perfectly random game, and hence, the game cannot be beat based on pattern-based strategies. I would like to believe that live SM or hand-shuffled shoes are not random, but all of the objective evidence points to the fact that they are.

If anyone has any statistical test which can identify the signature in live shoes, please let me know, because I would love to utilize it to objectively demonstrate live shoes are not random. Such a finding would make a HUGE splash in the testing community, and it would give real hope to baccarat players and testers. Moreover, it may suggest a way to actually beat the game. Again, I would love to find such a difference! However, I’m fairly certain any test will show what I’ve already shown: that live SM or hand-shuffled shoes are indistinguishable from random, computer generated ones, and therefore completely interchangeable.

As for blackjack, I would think that rather than trying to intentionally stack the deck, simply using a continuous shuffle would be a far less risky and much more effective countermeasure against card counters.

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27 Responses to “Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House”

  1. David lehmann Says:

    Hi, I’m very interested in your ongoing training with maverick. Is there a way that you could update me on a every other day basis or 2 times a week, etc. I would really love a daily update but realize that is probably a little much to ask!

    Thanks,

    David

  2. Hi David,

    Thanks for writing.

    I actually do make daily updates on my Maverick progress, except they are posted in the Maverick private forum.

    It would be difficult to make updates without revealing proprietary information.

    As far as shoe results, if the goal is +10u, nearly 100% of my shoes played with Maverick reach that or better, usually much better, at some point in the shoe.

    I’ll be composing a new blog posting soon to update everyone about my progress.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

  3. […] A couple of weeks have passed since I first challenged Ellis about his shuffle control theory at the free baccarat forum. I stated my points in my previous blog entry here. […]

  4. […] are some who insist they do not. (I had written about the idea of shuffle control in these posts: Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House and Beating […]

  5. […] but where is the objective proof?  Logic suggests the opposite is true (Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House and Beating Random), and I found no quantitative evidence of bias in the live shoes from Zumma (My […]

  6. […] A somewhat credible premise: a way of beating the Shuffle Master machine if you know how it shuffles. From a technical standpoint, I believe it can be done. But from a practical standpoint, any casino that tries to intentionally control the shuffle opens its doors wide open to collusion schemes by its employees, and a host of other problems (ref: Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House). […]

  7. I’m not saying you guys don’t know what you’re talking about. Obviously you know you’re game of choice. But I will contend that I consider myself a pro at blackjack and use all strategies known including my own invention called 13black8’s. I am also a computer programmer by trade. If you truly know the game of blackjack and all the scenarios that it can present then learn the game from the house perspective, you will understand that the automatic shuffler has put logic into the shuffle that can’t be beaten. Once you are known as a winner(advantage player) you will never be told to leave or have that old fashioned blacklist made on your face. YOU and any unlucky umknowns at the table will be manipulated by the deck. You will have wild swings and eventually lose because the “eye in the sky” folks, not the dealers will know your styles and set the shuffle master to create a shuffle designed to flaw it. Don’t get mad at the floor people, dealers etc. These people only know how to play the game, they could care less if you win or lose. And as far as the casino cheating?, all they have to say is what it is: a good shuffle. I’ll give yo a good example that you never hear online. Rely on counting religiously and you’ll start to notice that every single shoe will be so even of a count it is mind blowing. Is this cheating by the casino?, I mean hey the cards being even counts would give the avarage player and dealer an even spread, right?. Get my point? You ever haer of optical character recognition? it’s a 15 year old technology that is flawless with a premade item such as a playing card from paulsons. I’ve seen the insides of these machines, and for anyone that thinks these machines aren’t controled through ethernet is a moron still living in the 70’s. Ever wonder why that guy that wins big is a first time beginner betting and playing like a complete lunatic? I could on forever, hell I could write a damn good book on what I have discovered over the past ten years with the game I became obsessed with to a point that All I did was research it and porgram models for to understand it. I studied the game from the inside of the casino to the outside the walls and it all came crashing down when it became rigged with the legal cheating method created by shufflemaster. Anyone want to challenge me on this? take a trip to one of my favotite casinos with me and I’ll prove it with logical math. But we use your money, not mine. When they bring back the hand shuffle, I’ll play again with my money, and win again.

    • virtuoid Says:

      @TheKing

      Yes, it certainly would make more sense to manipulate the shuffle in blackjack.
      Thanks for sharing your experiences and knowledge.

    • I would love to talk to anyone interested in what these Machines are doing.

  8. So the BIG question is: How the hell do we figure out a way to combat this as a player? Some claim to know the shuffle patterns, such as boris on his website. But I don’t trust anyone trying to sell me anything, and his material to me, concerning this is very naive and doesn’t coinside with even the literature from the makers themselves. And besides, shuffle master doesn’t allow anyone the opportunity to see what really goes on under the hood. Thier units aren’t sold to the casinos, they are leased monthly. And also, why isn’t it that no one has sued these people? I mean, think about it, if the cards were just being shuffled in a random fashion, then even they wouldn’t be able to identify any type of patterns or counts. In a real blackjack game with a true shuffle such as a hand shuffle, the cards will at some point reach points where even a novice with little skill will win hands due to the dealer getting randomly unlucky patterns of cards. This is what has always made the game truly a game of chance with some element of luck that the casino had to bear. That was fair play. How can it be deemed fair or even legal if the tables can scientifically create patterns that they can use to thier advantage. I mean the sheer fact that they can create a pattern legally, blows my mind. How come these so called gaming commissions aren’t all over this in any state? And for further reading, Go look at shuffle masters site and read just the tid bit of info on the MD2 and MD2 workstation. I think they should either be sued or the players should be publicly made aware of the situation they face at the table. Also, if they claim they can’t expose thier formula for randomness? then that means it isn’t random, doesn’t it. I understand 128 bit encryption, and only by understanbding it do I realise that it can’t be broken. Please excuse the ranting and griping, I guess I am bitter due to the fact that I spent my time losing and learning to get to a higher level, then once there and winning, the elements all change in thier favor. They call us cheats because we learn to play the game well, but they cheat and no one seems to bat an eye. One last thing to add: Everyone firmly believes that every casino has a james bond, cutting edge way to identify us by facial recognition (1 in a billion or so odds) and mark us when we come through the door as an advantage player. And this is actually possible. Why do people find it so outlandish to believe electronic shuffle manipulations exist, even when the manufacturers tell us they do and even boast about it? I wish this topic would pop up more on the web.

    • virtuoid Says:

      @TheKing – Thanks again for sharing. I wish I had the answers!

    • I don’t play BJ but isn’t the continuous shuffling machine CSM and short stacking the main culprits to thwart card counters? Wouldn’t that be enough? Your case study is way over my head.

  9. I read somewhere on the internet that a shufflemaster md2 has the ability to take the used decks & put them into their original 8 deck order, like they just came out of the box. I have never seen this done. Guess that’s the bottom line question. COULD THEY? Then the next question is WOULD THEY?

    IF they had the ability & the willingness, they could improve profits by cutting down on very long runs in Baccarat. At least until enough people noticed & started playing accordingly. Guess I should mention: when a very long run occurs in Bac, typically by the time it’s 6 or 7 in a row MOST players are betting for the streak to continue. By the time a streak gets to 9 or 10, almost everyone at the table is betting BIG on the streaking side and sometimes players from other tables come rushing over. It’s like a feeding frenzy as the chip rack gets emptied. Quite amusing—-unless, of course, you’re the only jerk @ the table insane enough to be fighting the run.

    As far as the approval process goes, the ability to put the cards back into their original out of the box order might not be seen as a problem.

    I don’t play much BJ but do know a little about it. In BJ something even more sinister COULD occur (if the ability & willingness was there). The md2 could simply increase the concentration of aces (say by 10%–nothing too noticeable of course) toward the front of the decks. Then when the deck(s) was cut, say in half, the concentration of aces goes to the back so that alot of them stay behind the cut card so they wind up out of play.

    I know that Virtuoid feels VERY strongly that it would be a dangerous game for the casino to be screwing around with the randomness of the shuffle, because of possible collusion between whoever it is that is making the shuffle decisions & an accomplice. After all, the eye in the sky guys probably don’t make much more than the dealers, so where there’s a will there’s a way. There is, however, another possibility: Suppose the casino, all the way up to the top brass knew nothing about it. Suppose Shufflemaster just programmed the machines to give the casino a little more edge than they would get with pure random. (In Bac, cut down slightly on the # of very long runs & in BJ have a higher % of 10’s & aces wind up out of play.) Why would SHFL do this? Eventually it would be noticed that all the tables with SHFL machines have a consistently better hold % than hand shuffled games. “Let’s lease more SHFL machines & have them on every table.” said the ceo to the table games mgr. Right?

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  10. virtuoid Says:

    I appreciate the discussion about shuffle control, and I wouldn’t put it past the casino to do anything it can to increase its edge. After all, Vegas wasn’t built on fair play but cheating to the core. Nevertheless, I can find no objective evidence in the actual outcome of baccarat shoes dealt at live, physical casinos using Shufflemaster (SM) that their games are non-random.

    If there is a real bias in live SM or hand-shuffled shoes, I would LOVE to find it. When I first started out playing baccarat, I bought into Ellis’ whole spiel about casino card manipulation and persistent bias, because he is right about one thing: if baccarat players have any hope of winning long term, baccarat shoes must not be random.

    However, as I performed statistical tests of live and my computer generated shoes, I could find nothing to distinguish one from the other. Please refer to the following studies in which I performed detailed analysis and comparisons of Zumma 600+1000 (supposedly gathered from physical casinos), 2361 Live Shoes (all of which were personally collected by my friend and most of which were shuffled by SM), and my computer generated shoes:

    P and B Events Statistics: A Comprehensive Comparison

    My Baccarat Shoe Factory

    I’ve performed many other tests, too, and I’m too lazy to dig up the results right now, lol. But in all my studies, I could find no signature in live SM or hand-shuffled shoes which would indicate they are not random and not for all intents and purposes identical to my computer generated, completely random shoes.

    This is actually very disappointing to me, because it suggests that casinos (at least the ones from which the live shoes were collected) are being perfectly fair, not manipulating the shuffle, offering a perfectly random game, and hence, the game cannot be beat based on pattern-based strategies. I would like to believe that live SM or hand-shuffled shoes are not random, but all of the objective evidence points to the fact that they are.

    If anyone has any statistical test which can identify the signature in live shoes, please let me know, because I would love to utilize it to objectively demonstrate live shoes are not random. Such a finding would make a HUGE splash in the testing community, and it would give real hope to baccarat players and testers. Moreover, it may suggest a way to actually beat the game. Again, I would love to find such a difference! However, I’m fairly certain any test will show what I’ve already shown: that live SM or hand-shuffled shoes are indistinguishable from random, computer generated ones, and therefore completely interchangeable.

    As for blackjack, I would think that rather than trying to intentionally stack the deck, simply using a continuous shuffle would be a far less risky and much more effective countermeasure against card counters.

    • As you may know, Boris for Blackjack simulates most shuffles/washes & shuffle machines. Non-randomness in Blackjack has been easily demonstrated with these simulations.
      We can do the same thing for Baccarat, using Boris’ .DLL’s.
      To my knowledge, no one has ever done this with BAC.
      Don’tcha think it’s about time we investigated this?
      Who would like to work with me?

      Curiously,
      Boris

  11. I am not saying that I believe one way or the other. I’m merely posing the questions: COULD THEY & WOULD THEY ? IF those q’s were a definite yes, then the next q’s would be ARE they? & how could we exploit it?
    I still don’t know for sure if an MD2 has the capabilities. I have read posts elsewhere wherein the author was certain they COULD & others where the author was certain of the opposite. So all we have to go on is the data. The “Zumma Books” were published in the early/mid 90’s. I believe that was well b/4 any shuffle machines were being used for Baccarat. (The yellow book– 1000 shoes @ a big Bac table, was first published in 1992 & re-released in 1995. The red book –600 shoes @ mini Bac table, was published in 1995.) The red book even talks about the different (hand) shuffle procedures for big bac & mini Bac, since new decks are used after each shoe in big bac because the players touch & mangle the cards.
    I always wondered why these books are referred to as the Zumma books, rather than the Eric St. Germain books. Guess Zumma is just shorter, but I bet Eric doesn’t like it. 🙂 (Zumma is the publishing Co. & Eric is the author)

    So, all that really leaves is the 2361 live shoes (mostly machine shuffled). Does mostly mean 65% or 95% ?
    I just looked @ your data for the 2361 shoes again & nothing jumps off the page at me. Unfortunately, my shoes that I have charted are a mixture also and the only ones that I could be sure were machine shuffled are the more recent ones which is a small sample size. It did not occur to me when the shufflers first started showing up many years ago to keep separate records or even make a note of it on the scorecard. Furthermore, the original shufflers were very different from the MD2 that is in use now & I am certain that those clickedy clack shufflers did not have card recognition capabilities.

    As for Blackjack, IF they COULD & WOULD then it would NOT be only to defeat counters. Perfect basic strategy in a BJ game with good rules yields a house advantage of aprox 1/2 of what we face in Baccarat. (-0.6% for BJ vs -1.17% B or -1.36% P) I’m sure they wouldn’t mind upping that a little for everyone, not just the counters.
    Of course, if they were doing what my previous post hypothesized, then the first people to find out would be the pro counters because they would be getting to the end of the playable cards with a plus count more often than what they should. A good counter would probably notice something was up after playing 10 shoes & would be certain after 50 or 100 shoes. Guess word would get around.

    Back to Bac.
    Bac would be different in that it would be meaningless to say: hey I didn’t get enough runs of 12 or more in the last 10 shoes I played. It would probably take hundreds of shoes to even notice, and many, many thousands of shoes to be certain.

    PS. I am not a “conspiracy nut” like some who picture the casino’s shuffle decision person to be a short balding elderly gent resembling the Wizard of OZ sitting behind his green curtain, staring at a computer screen & deciding if he should make the next shoe choppy or streaky, or maybe first streaky, then choppy for a while and then back to streaky and then just a little bit choppy toward the end, based on whether or not ELVIS is at the table.
    Wait a second, that sounds just like the last 10 shoes I played.
    I think were on to something!! 🙂

    PSS. Seriously though, I fully agree with all your reasons (collusion, etc.) why the casino would be putting themselves at risk by using shuffle control. That’s why I believe that IF it were happening at all, it would be because the Shufflemaster MD2 was programmed to do it at the factory and no casino personnel would be aware.

    Off to find my next windmill.

    • virtuoid Says:

      @Rick

      Thanks for the information.

      Regarding your question “So, all that really leaves is the 2361 live shoes (mostly machine shuffled). Does mostly mean 65% or 95%?

      There are only 3 or 4 shoes which were hand shuffled, so 99.998% of the live shoes in that data set is SM shuffled.

    • To Rick;
      MD2 doesn’t need to cheat to thwart card counters and even less for Baccarat. Quit speculating stick with facts. As for now Imspirit’s latest comparison’s with the Zumma, 2361 live shoes and Virtuoud 1million shoes sim is the most comprehensive comparison anywhere and I’ll stick to that.

  12. […] Unless casinos are manipulating the deck every hand to counter your bet, I still can’t comprehend any large scale orchestration to throw whales/hot streak players off.

    I am of this school of thought even before Imspirit wrote this article on his blog himself: Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House « ImSpirit
    […]

  13. […] it would not be in the casinos’ best interest to manipulate the shuffle in my previous post Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad for the House, if Ellis were correct, then his approach would provide a real, consistent edge to the knowing […]

  14. […] As I had briefly relayed in my previous two posts (Shadowing Ellis and Ellis and I Take on Atlantic City), Ellis convincingly demonstrated to me with real money in live play that he can consistently win at baccarat. Thanks to him, I am a little wealthier today in terms of chips, experience, and perspective. […]

  15. Hey – wow – this is good – thanks!

  16. I know you posted this entry long time ago, but I just recently found it and would like to share a video and some toughts with you. How can I send you an email?

  17. […] Another thing I have noticed about both the newer MD3 & older MD2 is that the only wire coming out of the machines is the electric cord (regular 3 prong AC power cord). On 2 occasions I watched as they had to remove the machine from it’s housing to fix MD2 machine jams. I watched pretty closely and the only wire they had to unplug was the electrical cord. There are no other cables leading out of the machines, so it appears no wiring exists which would facilitate remote control of machine functions from elsewhere, such as a control room “upstairs” (ref: Shuffle Control: Why It’s Bad For the House). Whether the machines are equipped with wireless control could be tested by smuggling a RF detector into the casino, but that would take a little bit of courage on the part of the investigator 😉 […]

  18. we need to file class action law suit against the co who makes these machines

  19. It seems to me that shuffle control would be very useful to the house in games the player can only bet the cards to win (e.g. blackjack.) If it’s a “continuous shuffler,” the dealers don’t have to be in on it. Management can just set up the machines. And if the machines are set up to keep preferring certain cards over certain others, dealers only need to be instructed not to open the machine. The argument for casinos not controlling shuffles only works when a player could take advantage of knowing how the casino cheated.

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