A poker card shuffler can add speed and security to any poker game and is presently a staple of live casino card rooms around the world. The multi-deck capacity of today’s high quality shuffler machines makes for seamless dealer transitions between hands – resulting in more hands per hour and more opportunities for competitors and hosting venues alike to turn a profit.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the differences between different machines, define what the best card shuffler for poker is, and give a basic rundown of how software and hardware interact in some of the best poker shuffler products currently on the market.
What is a Poker Card Shuffler?
A poker card shuffler machine is a piece of hardware that performs the task of randomly mixing playing cards.
Earlier models of this product require a dealer to physically place the cards in the machine before each hand is dealt, and can only shuffle one deck at a time.
The more modern models can accept multiple decks at a time, physically rotate the decks as each hand ends, and automatically perform a random shuffle while linking to or connecting to a data-driven administrative device that records each hand. Complete with touch screens and “call the clock” notifications, the most expensive poker card shufflers are built with some amazing technology.
The cheaper versions are battery operated and can be purchased at specialty stores for less than $30, while professional high end card shufflers, like the Deckmate devices used in high profile events such as the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour, can cost more than $20,000 USD for each machine. They’re directly mounted and plugged into the poker tables and require a gaming license issued by a governing body just to acquire!
Some shufflers require cards to be a very specific size in order to function properly. Other automatic card shufflers can accommodate different materials including plastic and even poker playing cards made of metallic substances.
For the cheaper card shufflers, a dealer will need to pick up the entire deck from the device and then begin to deal a poker hand. More expensive models, such as a poker table card shuffler, can literally spit out one card at a time without a human dealer ever having to handle an entire card deck during a hand.
Of course, at the end of a hand, round, session, or other card playing frame, a human being will still (eventually) need to replace cards that have been dealt by loading them back into the machine. After all, poker card shufflers don’t collect played cards by themselves once a hand has concluded.
Users will also need to load all the cards/decks into the machine before an actual session begins – as card shufflers aren’t sold with “loaded cards included.”
Can I Buy a Poker Table with Card Shuffler?
In-table poker card shufflers are marketed and sold by a limited number of companies, and you’ll be hard-pressed to locate one at a retail location unless you reside in or are visiting a large city. There may also be a requirement that the purchaser own a local gaming license for higher end products.
If your poker home game is arriving at a point in which a card shuffler is becoming a necessity, your best bet might be to opt for one of the cheaper retail products on the market that stands alone from your actual poker table.
There are still a lot of quality options out there for automatic poker card shufflers that work great and require minimal to no maintenance.
Automatic Card Shufflers: Technology and Government Regulatory Oversight
This section is dedicated to explaining why extremely high end, commercial poker card shufflers are not available on the retail consumer market.
For starters, let’s look at the intermingling of hardware and software of in-person poker tables compared to poker card shuffling machines.
Although many of today’s top-tier poker tables are built with software capabilities, it is still possible for a non-gaming layperson to purchase (or even build) a poker table that exceeds professional tables in quality and cost.
In fact, you could theoretically construct a poker table made of precious gems, rare earth minerals, and/or metals if you possess the materials, equipment, and skills to do so.
And even without “bells and whistles” such as programmable LED lights, timers, plus other software enhancements – a poker table can be built to be sturdier, more resistant, larger, and of higher overall quality than the very best professional tables that are on the market today. In general terms, hardware enhancements (at least for things such as poker tables) do not attract anywhere near the amount of government- or industry-sponsored regulatory oversight that cutting-edge software updates do.
State-of-the-art software enhancements, on the other hand, involve meticulous programming, specialized intermingling of hardware/software, and most importantly – real time data connectivity, gathering, and exportation. Moreover, the use, misuse, and abuse of real time data will continue to necessitate the existence of regulatory oversight in the future (not to mention all the ethics concerns and headaches real time data collection has caused for competitive poker games since the turn of the century).
Like it or not, the very best and most complex poker card shuffler machines will likely be regulated and restricted to licensed commercial use for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, real time data collection and security will probably grow as an (albeit niche and closely monitored) industry in the years and decades to come – especially for competitive games that award something of value to winners while extracting something of value from losers, like poker.
Evaluating Consumer Reviews from Automatic Card Shuffler Poker Games
There are plenty of reviews online that pertain to automatic card shufflers, their quality, durability, and price. If you’re in the market for a poker card shuffler, it’s probably a good idea to solicit consumer reviews from other card room or home poker game hosts to learn more about the pros and cons of each setup.
A card shuffler has to physically be somewhere within the gaming space, and each setup (especially home games) can vary drastically in terms of total area in square feet, number of players, allowance of food dishes/refreshments on the table, and dealer position spacing.
Here are some of the most important factors to look for (in terms of quality) when shopping for a card shuffler machine that’s the right fit to enhance a home game.
- Multi-deck capability
- Automatic rotating mechanism that triggers every time a recovered deck is introduced
- Durable materials
- Warranty or insurance plan to cover maintenance over thousands or poker hands
- Buttons, wiring, and toggles that do not easily wear down over time
- Ability to adapt to high quality (or newer) poker card decks
- Ability to handle the precise card size measurements that you’re using in your own game
- Ability to function using both Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC)
- Color scheme that blends in with/doesn’t aesthetically disrupt your gaming environment
By gathering consumer reviews from other card game host colleagues, you can better gauge which product is the right fit for your own game or card room.
Poker Card Shuffler Machines and Alternating Current Stability
Introducing plug-in electronics to your hosted card game comes with a few necessary considerations. If your poker game is popular and runs on a regular basis (especially if it can begin on demand or runs 24/7), then you’ll probably want to consider having a back-up to keep your game going during an unexpected power outage.
“No Break” devices (also known as energy regulators) have been used by professional poker players to ensure online connectivity in a pinch since the early 2000s.
Basically, these products provide a temporary power reserve to plug-in hardware that is connected. So if your power goes out, your laptop or desktop computer along with your modem and monitor will be supplied with electricity for a brief period (usually 15-60 minutes, depending on product quality and power usage) if the electricity goes out in your area.
These devices are pretty much mandatory for any serious card game in which plug-in devices are used to enhance overall speed and customer experience.
If you’re in charge of a licensed commercial card game, then a stand-alone power generator will probably already be in use in case of emergencies.
A power generator for a casual or non-licensed game is usually a very bad idea, especially if the geographical region you’re operating from is frequently plagued by natural disasters such as earthquakes and severe weather. After all, you’re not running a hospital.
As another word of caution against installing a generator on a non-licensed gaming property, you REALLY need to know what you’re doing before installing and using a generator. If the area where your generator is located is prone to flooding, then DON’T place a generator in that physical area!
Also, generators tend to be excessively loud; louder than a gasoline-propelled lawn mower when in use, and the cheaper products on the market will require a petroleum liquid in order to function at all.
To summarize, don’t connect your poker card shufflers and other plug-in poker game props to a generator unless that game you’re in charge of is licensed by a governing body and has personnel resources to regulate where, when, and how the actual generator is used.
Enhancing Poker Game Speed with an Automatic Card Shuffler Machine
If a dealer or dealer-player has to manually shuffle a deck of cards between each hand, the amount of hands all players will see during any given hour will decrease relative to having this task performed automatically by a machine.
Obviously, the game speed enhancement of a shuffling machine relative to the amount of time it takes to complete each hand on average. If you’re in a slow and/or 9-10 handed poker game in which each hand takes an average of 5-6 minutes to complete from start to finish, then there will only be about 9-10 opportunities per hour for the machine to perform its shuffling task.
If, on the other hand, the poker game is heads-up or takes less than 3 minutes for each hand to begin and conclude on average, the “time saving” automatic shuffling task can be performed more than 20 times per hour.
Real Time Data Security for High End Card Shufflers (Non-Licensed Games)
The risks of having a live poker game compromised through the use of real time data are ever-present. If you absolutely MUST have a high end card shuffler for use in a non-licensed home game, then you could – as a consequence – leave yourself open to (at the very least) civil liability.
Real time data security is an entirely separate industry that is distinctly removed from the poker-verse. This means that you may be responsible for outsourcing talent and/or companies to manage, deliver, and secure any real time data that a state-of-the-art poker card shuffler machine generates.
Poker games that are officially licensed by a government and/or industry regulatory body fall under an immense infrastructure that is constantly adapting and evolving to data security needs as they relate to casino or card room gaming.
Non-licensed games are, by definition, unregulated. They can become easy targets for disruption by Black Hat contractor interests whose responsibility it is to troubleshoot (or wreak havoc upon) non-licensed competition with the overall goal of compromising a game and/or continued growth for the licensed, regulated, and closely monitored data security industry.
Summary: Poker Card Shuffler Machines and Poker Game Efficiency
Overall, a poker card shuffler machine can improve your own card game tremendously and save quite a bit of time between each dealt hand. This not only goes for high-stakes private games, but also low-stakes friendly home games.
To ensure you find the right automatic shuffler to suit your players’ needs, make the effort to solicit feedback from other card room operators and shop around online while thoroughly reading customer reviews.
Turn your informal home game into a bona-fide professional poker game experience through the use of an automatic poker card shuffler and see more hands per hour guaranteed!