Here’s the best way to shuffle a pack of cards – with a little help from some maths

Playing cards

There is one burning question when shuffling cards: is it enough to really provide a random order? There are different techniques to shuffle a card deck. But there are experts who question the effectiveness of these methods. This is why many casinos use a shuffling machine.

To the operators, this should be enough to produce random orders. As such, players will not have the ability to track the location of high-value pieces. But what about live casinos that don’t use it? Or what if you are just playing card games in your own home?

Mathematicians have worked for over 25 years to determine what kind of shuffling methods work best to produce randomness. These methods were tested using highly sophisticated algorithms and against professional card counters and card trackers. At the end of the experiment, the mathematicians determined the most effective shuffling methods.

Here are the best ways to randomize your cards without a machine.

The Riffle Shuffle

This is a method where you cut the deck in two and hold each deck on each hand. The next step is to alternate the pieces through both thumbs and stack the cards to have a single deck. According to experts, this will work if done at least five times.

Shuffling with this method only once still keeps a window of opportunity to card trackers. Experiments show that there is a higher statistical chance of randomness if this shuffle is done at least five times. The challenge is that when you use this shuffling method, it can wear and tear the plastic or cardboards easily and it takes time, especially so because typical casino games use at least four decks.

The Smooshing Shuffle

Smooshing is done by laying all the pieces on the table face down. Then, you just have to move the cards around to re-arrange them. Finally, you need to put them back together like a deck. This is not entirely a sexy way to shuffle a deck.

To make this effective and to prevent trackers from doing their trick, you have to smoosh the cards for at least one minute. Next, cut it and smoosh it again. Though is rarely done in casinos, this is actually one of the most effective shuffling methods to ensure that the order of the cards is random.

The Strip Shuffle

This one looks like the overhand but it is fairly easier to execute. Do this by holding the deck with one hand and use the other hand to take out portions of the card from the middle. The next step is to put that portion on top of the deck.

This may not be effective in preventing trackers from determining where the high-value cards are. If done right, you can ensure that the cards are random. To avoid giving the card trackers an opportunity to take advantage of its flaws, shuffle the card for at least one minute, cut it, and then do it again.

The Pile Shuffle

This is a kind of shuffling technique that takes longer than the others. To do this, hold the deck on one hand and take one card at a time. Create each pile and make sure you are putting one card on top of them in a sequence. This will guarantee that no two cards will be next to each other as they were in the previous arrangement.

Next, take the piles and put them back into a deck. The beauty here is that no card tracker can locate where the high-value cards are. They are randomly spread out on eight piles that you created earlier.


There are other various methods that you can use to shuffle but by far, these four are the most effective in producing random orders. The truth is that any arrangement is random. The only problem with this is that some random orders are easily used by a player to his benefit. This is why a casino operator must ensure that the players do not have this advantage.

At the end of the day, the casino operator’s only options are to use machines are use these four techniques. Other techniques will also work, but they require more shuffling repetitions to produce a randomly ordered deck. Sadly, patrons will find it so tiring to wait for five minutes for every shuffle.