Relative Speed of Play

 Relative Speed of Play

Blackjack games are not all created equal, as experienced players know. There’s a mix-and-match set of rules, and different casinos match different mixes. Does the dealer stand on all 17s or hit soft 17? Can you double down on any starting hand or are doubles restricted to a few totals, such as hard 9, 10 and 11? How many decks are in play?

To that you can add, how are the cards shuffled? Does the dealer shuffle by hand, or is an automatic shuffler used? If it’s an automatic shuffler, is it a continuous shuffler or one that shuffles one pack of cards while another is in play?

The distinction is important. When a dealer shuffles by hand, play is stopped and doesn’t resume until the dealer has done the job and had a player insert a cut card.

With the most common automatic shufflers, there’s still a short stoppage of play. One pack of cards — whether it consists of a single deck or up to eight decks — is in the machine and the shuffling is done while play goes on with another pack. When the cut card is reached, the completed pack is placed in the machine, the newly shuffled pack is taken out, a player inserts the cut card, and play resumes. Play stoppage is minimal.

With a continuous shuffler, cards from completed hands are just placed back into the machine and shuffled into play again. There is no stoppage of play — at least until enough time has passed to bring on fresh decks.

What that means is that play is slowest with a hand-shuffled game, and fastest with a continuous shuffler. Keep in mind that the faster the game, the more chances per hour the house edge has to work against you.

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