The Blackjack Shoe – An Innovation Turned into a Blackjack Tradition

Having a blackjack shoe or a shuffling machine is one thing most people don't notice. The dedicated and especially the pro blackjack players know that this is one of the essential items on the blackjack table besides the cards, chips, and your money. This article can learn what the deck shoe and shuffling machines are, how they affect the game, and more.
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Long ago, when the first cards spread worldwide, gambling games were all about skill, brain, and luck. The first casinos entertained the high society, but alongside them, gambling dens opened for everyone. Regardless of the casino’s size, its glamour or the lack of it, players could enjoy incredible games like blackjack, roulette, poker, dice games, and more.

The history of cards and blackjack is astonishing, and we will be happy to tell you all about it in another article. This time, we will pay attention to one of the frequently ignored but essential parts of the fair gambling games – the deck shoe and its versions. In the paragraphs below, we will show you the differences between handled cards, multiple decks shoes like the 6 deck blackjack shoe, and the mechanical card shufflers.

Blackjack Shoe vs Blackjack Machine

Today, players worldwide can try dozens of card games and their modern versions at land-based and online casinos. There are many sites that specialize in certain game like the top blackjack casino sites for 2021. Besides the incredible number of games, the casinos offer extra bonuses and prizes and amazing entertainment opportunities.

Blackjack Dealing Styles – Shoe, Machine, and Handled Decks

The world might be rapidly changing and the gambling games quickly evolving, but many blackjack players still prefer visiting land-based casinos or their live online alternatives. They do so to experience the real skill games for real money in a traditional way. The main difference is that at land-based casinos, you can benefit from the casino’s hotel, bar, and more, while playing online, you can be anywhere.

Something small like touching the fibre on the blackjack table or watching the dealer shuffle the 8-deck blackjack shoe is an unforgettable experience that can’t be recreated even at the best RNG blackjack games. In the table below, you can see in short what are the main differences between the blackjack shuffling machines and the card deck shoes. We also added the handled deck’s parameters for your information and comparison with the oldest traditions.

Criteria Shoe Machine Handled
Decks (No Jockers) 2-8 4-8 1-2
Cards Are In Inside the shoe Inside the shuffler In the dealer’s hands
Cards Dealt Face Up Face Up Face Down
Player – Cards Contact Not Allowed Not Allowed Allowed
“Hit Me” Sign Tap on the table with your index finger Tap on the table with your index finger Gently scrape the card’s corner
“Stand” Sign Wave hand over your cards Wave hand over your cards Slide hand under your chips (don’t touch the bet)
Doubling/Splitting Put another bet next to the one you have already made Put another bet next to the one you have already made Point two fingers at the table. Turn the cards face up and place another bet
Blackjack Natural & Bust Do nothing (just celebrate). The dealer pays you off immediately. Do nothing (just celebrate). The dealer pays you off immediately. Turn your cards face up, celebrate. The dealer will pay off
Player’s 21 Chance Low Chance Low Chance High Chance
Dealer’s 21 Chance High Chance High Chance Low Chance
Double Down Low Chance Low Chance High Chance
Dealer Bust Low Chance Low Chance High Chance
House Edge Higher Higher Lower

As you can see, every blackjack machine and shoe allows the game to continue longer and the cards to be dealt faster. On the other hand, some of the casinos and games with high stakes prefer the old-fashioned hand-shuffled and dealt cards. The research of the pro players, gambling institutions, and gambling authorities claims that using a machine, shoe, or a dealer shuffle can’t affect the outcome of any variations of blackjack or strategies.

If you are fond of the game, then undoubtedly, you follow the careers of the all-time greatest blackjack players in the world. They all have played hundreds of blackjack games in all kinds of casinos and gambling rooms during their careers. When asked about the dealing types influence on their games, they all agree that there is not much of a difference in the outcome except the card counting is easier with the handled decks.

The Blackjack Shoe

Blackjack Shoe Inspiration

The dealing shoe, aka dealer’s shoe, is a simple gaming device that holds multiple decks of playing cards. The idea of the blackjack shoe is to prevent the shuffle tracking in blackjack and to make the games go faster and run smoother. The extra benefit is that card counting becomes harder with every single deck shuffled in the shoe.

It is a fun fact that the earliest card deck shoe resembled a woman’s high-heel shoe. The boxes were even often painted in red or black colour. Even though the appearance evolved, another essential element of the shoe remained. The coloured divider shows when will the next shuffle be. This divider could be made of any material and an aesthetically pleasing colour or part of the casino’s image and vision.

It may seem strange to you, but the idea of mechanic shufflers appeared way before the first card deck shoe was created. During the 1960s, Las Vegas casinos began using this simple box, card divider, and a discard tray for the used cards. This innovation was created for convenience, safety, and fair play for the casino and the players. The dealer’s manual card shuffling is the essence of the card shoe. This is the moment when everyone stares in admiration at the fast-moving hands of the dealer, who prepares the next decks for playing.

Depending on the casino and the blackjack variation, there are games with one, two, four, six, and up to 8 deck blackjack shoes. You can see different examples when you play live blackjack online at top UK sites or at land-based casinos. Once all decks are shuffled, the dealer places the card divider indicating the next shuffle, and the games can begin.

🃏 Shoe Deck Qualities Shoe
📏 Decks Capacity (No Jockers) 1-8
👐 Shuffling & Card Dealing Manual by the Dealer
💫 Dealer Cards Interaction Level High
👀 Cards Location after Shuffle Visible Inside the Shoe
🌈 Support Tools Coloured Card Divider
🗑️ Discard Card Tray Yes
🤩 Dealing of Cards Face Up
😎 Player Cards Interaction Not Allowed
✨ Card Counting Probalility Level Avarage
💸 Cheating Probability Level Low
🎯 “Hit Me” Sign Player taps on the table with index finger
🥺 “Stand” Sign Player waves hand over the cards
💞 Doubling/Splitting Player puts another bet next to the first one
🥳 Blackjack Natural & Burst The dealer pays you off immediately.

Many casinos have the policy to shuffle the blackjack shoe when there are about 25% of the initial cards (sometimes called “the penetration”) left before the divider. This way, the full inventory of cards never comes into play. Once again, this is done as a counter card counting measure. From the losing player’s point of view, the newly shuffled decks can turn the game into profit.

Blackjack Machine – Automatic & Manual Shufflers

Blackjack Card Shuffling Machines

The card deck shuffler and especially the blackjack shuffle machine are devices created to shuffle one or more playing card decks. They aim to prevent “inside jobs” by dealers and casino employees in collaboration with the players. A positive side effect is the ability to add more decks to the game and decrease the dealers’ interaction with the playing cards on the blackjack tables. Today, the most commonly used machines rival the 8 and 6 deck blackjack shoe, and even the hand dealt cards.

Blackjack Shuffling Machines History

In 1878, Henry Ash offered the first machine that would reduce hand motion, decrease the dealers’ suffering, and minimise player’s card counting. The device had an opening for the deck to be dropped, and then the dealer would shake the box until cards fall through a comb at the bottom of the box. The shuffler’s operator then collected the cards from both sides of the box and stacked them together. This was repeated a few times to be sure that the cards are properly shuffled.

The evolution of mechanical shufflers went through many forms and many games. Today, we can find all kinds of simple and complex shuffling machines used in blackjack, poker, baccarat, and other card games. We should say that the innovations have not changed blackjack rules, card values, hand strength, and dealer signs. What happened are faster games, fairness, and improvements in the casino’s technological development.

Manual Deck Shuffling Machines

The most popular types of blackjack card shufflers are manual and automatic. The manual blackjack shuffle machine is harder to break because it has few components and simple mechanics. Those shufflers don’t need power and are much cheaper than all others. This type of card shuffling is one step ahead of the blackjack shoe. The cards are well mixed, and there is no way to catch the dealer tells in blackjack games.

Automatic Blackjack Card Shufflers

Those machines are called batch, random, or automatic shuffle machines. Many land-based gambling rooms and casinos use them in blackjack games or as an innovation offered for players entertainment. This type of machine shuffles the cards once and stops until the cards are dealt. Depending on the casino policy, the dealer can put the used cards from the discard tray in the machine again or insert a new deck.

Every blackjack shoe machine has specific features. For example, some of them can shuffle only 1-2 decks, while others meet the 8 deck blackjack shoe’s full capacity. As you can see in the video, some of the shufflers even deal the cards to the players. This is extremely entertaining and is perfect for small gatherings and friendly parties. Since those machines are not expensive and do not require any dealer’s skills, you can see them used by many retired people for their card games nights.

With the continuous shuffle machines in blackjack games the dealer returns the dealt cards inside the machine without using a discard card tray. Those blackjack machines make the game faster because they eliminate the dealer’s shuffling breaks. The downside is that the more complex the shuffler is, the higher the repair cost it has. Another negative is that those machines can be noisy and need a battery or electricity to work.

Where Can You See Blackjack Shoes and Machines?

Casinos with Blackjack Shoes

The easiest answer to the question where you can see a blackjack shoe or blackjack machines is at gambling locations, which aim to prevent blackjack card counting. Counting cards is easy when there are only one or two decks in play. The skilful blackjack player can easily predict the odds of winning and the upcoming cards and take actions. To keep the games fair, all casinos applied different anti-cheating tactics.

Land-Based Casinos & Gambling Rooms

The gambling rooms in every casino use a blackjack shoe. Depending on the operator’s policy, certain games can use an 8 deck blackjack shoe. The casinos also follow a time-table or have a percentage policy that determines how often the decks are shuffled and how many decks are added upon every shuffle. All this is a countermeasure that aims to prevent small schemes and decrease the master players from getting all the prizes.

Everyone admires the MIT blackjack team masterminds, but there are no casinos that want card counting on their premises. That is why, besides shoe boxes, casinos use all kinds of cameras and tricks to catch the cheaters. The use of card shuffling machines is rare, and most casinos keep them as a curious entertainment at the low stake games.

Online Casino Blackjack

Online casinos made accessing online blackjack games relatively easy for players worldwide. If you are at a legal age, you can easily register in one of the best online gambling rooms and try any blackjack game available over the websites. Many gambling sites offer a variety of blackjack versions, but the real action is in the live dealer section of the casino and at the real money online blackjack tournaments.

The gambling software developers, Evolution Gaming and NetEnt, are the main live casino games providers. Typically, their games are played with six to eight card decks. Many videos are showing how the next shoe is being shuffled. Many players prefer live dealer online casinos over land-based simply for convenience. This way, they can participate in the game while sitting on their couch or camping in the forest.

Private Homes & Public Events

The diverse types of shuffling machines can be found in private homes, retirement homes, parties, charity events, and more. The deck shufflers are useful everywhere where card shuffling skills are not required or considered part of the game. The automatic shufflers sometimes even have an automatic dealing function that eases the players even more.

You can easily get the popular 8 or 6 deck blackjack shoe or any of the online shops’ blackjack shuffling machines. There are good shufflers at low prices the variety of models is abundant. If you have some skills, you can easily purchase a deck shoe and shuffle yourself. Those accessible options can ease your start in the card games world, but if you wish to become a pro dealer or shuffler, you need to practice the blackjack magic tricks.

Blackjack Shoe & Blackjack Machine Differences Popular Questions

One of the extremely practical devices at a casino table is the blackjack shoe and the discard card tray. Below, you can find answers to popular questions related to the origin, use, and effect of the card deck shoes and shuffling machines over blackjack games.

🗃️ Why blackjack shoes and blackjack machines are used?

The blackjack shoe and the blackjack card shuffling machines are widely used devices not only by casinos but also in private homes for all sorts of card games. They are useful devices that decrease dealer's contact with the cards, make card counting hard, and allow better shuffling of up to eight playing card decks.

👠 What is a blackjack shoe?

The blackjack card deck shoe is a box that holds the shuffled card decks ready for the next games. The name comes from the first boxes shaped as a ladies' high-heel shoe. Today, the most popular shoe is transparent, with a brightly coloured card divider marking the next shuffle. Casinos usually use an 8 or 6 deck blackjack shoe.

⚙️ What is a blackjack machine?

The mechanical and automatic blackjack machines are the technological version of the 8 deck blackjack shoe. Those devices replace the shuffling performed by the dealer or the casino employee and can shuffle up to eight playing card decks. Some shufflers can even deal the cards automatically. Those machines limit contact with the cards and prevent inside jobs.

🃏 What is the difference between blackjack shoe and machine?

The common thing between a blackjack machine and a blackjack shoe is decreasing the card counting and cheating. We have listed the criteria for a blackjack shoe machine, and handled dealing of cards. Overall, the different card dealing methods decrease cheating and increase the game speed without changing the odds.

✨ Where are a blackjack shoe and a blackjack machine used?

The blackjack shuffle machine and especially the blackjack shoe are used on almost every blackjack table at land-based and online casinos. Some high-stake games or traditionally oriented casinos prefer games led by skilful dealers with crafty hands. A private citizen who loves playing cards with friends also uses some of the popular brands of shuffling machines.

🤖 What is a continuous blackjack shuffling machine?

The simple and classic blackjack shoe is often preferred over the other options, but automatic or manual shufflers are used by many casinos. The continuous shuffling machine is an automatic shuffler where the dealer places the used cards inside the machine right after the game is over. This device allows faster games without the need for card shuffling breaks.

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