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Because the BOX-unit "riffles" the cards only 5 or 6 times, ShuffleMaster's claim of card randomness can be easily questioned; especially when you consider (from the above-mentioned shuffle-randomness figures) that in order to be considered a "random shuffle", the machine should riffle the cards at least 7 times.

Unlike ShuffleMaster I & II which use mechanical "fingers" to reasonably simulate a riffle, the Shuffle Master Box uses a series of "elevators" instead. When it comes time to shuffle, the dealer loads the stack of cards into the center elevator and pushes the red button atop the box. This closes the glass window and the shuffle procedure begins.

To begin the shuffle procedure, the BOX randomly determines whether this shuffle will utilize a "tighter" intertwine (1 to 5 cards per "drop") or a "looser" intertwine (5 to 10 cards per "drop"). There is no way to externally know which kind of intertwine was selected, unless possibly, you are capable of [clump] "reading" the cards; and even then possibly not. ShuffleMaster corp. claims that the intertwine selection is COMPLETELY random and is NOT selectable by casino personnel.

(As an aside: a drop of 1 to 5 cards is roughly equivalent to the dealer taking 3/4 deck picks during the shuffle process, while a drop of 5 to 10 cards is roughly equivalent to taking 1-deck picks.)

Once the intertwine is selected, the SM Box lifts the center elevator as it "fires" the first half the cards down the right hand elevator shaft, followed by the other half of the cards down the left elevator shaft; effectively splitting the cards into two stacks.

Next, a random number (from 5 to 60) is generated and this number of cards is fired from the right elevator into the center [stack]. This is the equivalent of the un-riffled 25% of the right-hand pick produced by ShuffleMaster I & II. Remember that ShuffleMaster corp. claims that these un-riffled clumps of cards (their term, not mine) are necessary in order to insure that the cards are random. Amazing! Non-random cards are necessary to insure that the cards are random. Huh?

(As a side note, even the patent disclosure use the word "Clump" to label this step in the shuffle procedure.)

Once the initial clump is created, ShuffleMaster Box alternates from left elevator to right, firing cards onto the center stack based on the intertwine selection. When both outer elevators have been emptied into the center, the entire process is repeated, using the same intertwine previously determined. The shuffle process is performed 5 or 6 times (randomly selected, independent of the loose/tight intertwine selection). Finally, the cards are reverse moved to the left elevator shaft completing the shuffle procedure.

For the each subsequent shuffle, cards to be shuffled are stacked in the center elevator. To begin the shuffle procedure, the previously shuffled cards are removed from the left elevator and the [RED] start button is pressed.. This closes the glass door and the above-described procedure is invoked.

Essentially, that's all there is to the ShuffleMaster Box procedure. Even BEFORE you study the cards produced by this machine, the above-mentioned description should make it rather obvious that the Shuffle Master BOX does not REALLY produce random cards.

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  • 2 years later...

That is an EXCELLENT description of the MD-1 "Box" shuffler, but not ShuffleMaster II (for double deck) which hasn't been around for 10+ years.

Back in the day, at the NY NY casino when I saw the Box shuffler being used for double deck, I asked the shift manager why use the MD-1 and not SM-II, he said it was because it saved them a monthly lease on TWO machines. Then when I ran a Boris simulation to compare a 2-Deck Box game against the SM-II, it became VERY OBVIOUS - the MD-1 DOUBLED the hold on those 2-deck games.

The moral to this story is to not believe casino personnel.

I remember on Friday at 5:30 at A.C. Tropicana when all the tables were full while next door was an EMPTY pit of tables sat next to them. When I asked why they don't open more tables, the pit boss explained that "dealers are expensive". REALLY If the house is sweating $10/hr * 5 - 10 tables, then they are near BANKRUPTCY. 20 years ago Ellis exposed the REAL reason tables are often full. Today in Vegas, we see dozens of FULL 6:5 games. When I point out the 6:5 fallacy to players, they look at me like I am an idiot! (The fact that I AM an idiot sometimes doesn't change the suckiness of the 6:5 games.) According to Boris' House Advantage Calculator, 6:5 Blackjack gives the house an extra 1.49% for a near 2% edge against random cards (against clumped cards its even worse).

Moral #2: Follow your methods and your professional instinct. If the casinos are offering a game feature, it is usually a bad bet.

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