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False Shuffles: How to Spot and Avoid Them

False Shuffles: How to Spot and Avoid Them


If you have a hand that is higher than the dealer’s, totals to or doesn’t go above 21, you beat the dealer and win. The rules of Blackjack can’t get any simpler than that. But even with its straightforward and fast gameplay, is it still possible for someone to cheat in a game of Blackjack? How do you spot if someone’s playing foul? Find out just that and more below.

In Blackjack or Twenty-one, you play against the dealer and hope that your hand doesn’t go above 21. Hitting a Blackjack or a hand that totals 21 is the best situation since you automatically win 3:2. 

Cards 2 to 10 are worth their face value, suits are worth 10 each and the Ace can either be 1 or 11. Bearing that in mind, the most secure way of landing a Blackjack is to be dealt with a pair made up of an Ace and a card that is worth 10. 

That’s why when you’re dealt with an Ace, you probably pray to all the available gods and deities that the next card dealt with you is either a suit or a 10. 

Some cheaters replace one of the cards dealt with them with a card that came from their own deck using a sleight of hand trick. That’s why most casinos forbid Blackjack players to touch their cards. Supervisors roam the gaming floors to make sure that players and dealers are fairly playing.

That’s not effective in some cases since some dealers were proven to be in cahoots with players to take down the house. Dealers can cheat by replacing one of the cards in their hand. You should know some of the tricks that cheating dealers do with the deck of cards so you’d be able to detect it. 

False Card Shuffles

If this technique sounds familiar, that’s because it’s something used by magicians in performing their tricks that effectively fool their viewer. If done correctly and rapidly, then that’s exactly what the dealer and their partner would do to you in a foul play. 

There are different types of shuffles but they all have the same purpose and that is to make you think that the deck is in a randomized order. Dealers are trained in moving quickly and dealing with cards like a pro and that also means they can trick you into thinking that a deck is shuffled when in fact, it’s in an order that gives an advantage to them. 

Different Types of False Shuffles

As a player, card shuffling is what should put your mind at ease and convince you that the play is fair because no one, not even the dealer, knows which card is supposed to show up next. That wouldn’t be the case, however, if the dealer tricks you with what seems like legitimate shuffles but are actually false shuffles that do not mix the deck at all. Here are some examples:

False Dovetail Shuffle

When doing a dovetail shuffle, the dealer cuts the deck in half, positions them in an adjacent angle before shuffling the edges and making sure that each card from both sides overlaps. Then, they push the two sections together, creating a deck in a new order.

Just as how most types of shuffles are, the dovetail shuffle looks convincing to the eye especially when it’s done at high speed. In a false dovetail shuffle, however, what the dealer does is cut the deck in half, shuffle the edges, and using the top card as a cover, they disregard the edge shuffles and just insert the top section back to where it originally is. 

What makes this a commonly used technique for cheating is because of how easy it is to retain the top card. If the dealer is swift, it would go unnoticed and they can proceed to give their desired cards to their partner.

This one’s hard to detect since most of what’s happening occurs backstage. For the player who is in front of the dealer, it looks like a normal dovetail shuffle because of the top card cover. You’ll have to be mindful of the top card looks unnecessarily out of place on the deck to spot this false shuffle.

False Overhand Shuffle

In an overhand shuffle, the dealer holds the complete deck in one hand while the other hand pulls sections down to hold it and randomize the position of each card or section. In a false overhand shuffle, the dealer cuts the deck into smaller sections and puts them back in order by peeking at the top and bottom cards. 

This one’s harder to spot because it can look sloppy which makes it more believable. The dealer can do this even without looking at the deck except when it’s time to square up the deck and they have to peek at their top or bottom cards to bring the deck back to their desired order. 

False Deals and Cuts

After pretending to shuffle the deck, the dealer asks any of the players to cut the deck by placing the cut card anywhere in the middle part of the deck before they can put it back in the shoe and begin a new round. If no player wants to cut, the dealer does it themselves.

It doesn’t matter who gets to cut the deck since the dealer can just do a simple hand trick that lets you believe they’ve stacked the cut sections in a different order. They do this with swift hand motions to fool the untrained eye. You’d have to keep a sharp eye and an even sharper mind so you can track the movement of the deck and recognize a false cut when you see one. 

Playing Fair and Square

Casinos ensure a safe and secure environment for their patrons and they make that happen with tight security measures. Supervisors roam the floor to check their dealers and high-definition security cameras see everything that happens on the game floor. 

With that in mind, it won’t hurt to be extra careful in every table you play at especially in Blackjack where you play against the dealer. So if you want to spot and avoid foul play, then you have to observe the behaviour of the dealer. Compare their actions to other dealers and if you see any oddities, report it immediately to the authorities.

If you play online, then the secure environment of Bombay Club Blackjack should put your mind at ease. You can also sharpen your skills by playing against the computer in Blackjack Classic!

Words by: Leann Padilla

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False Shuffles: How to Spot and Avoid Them
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