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Practical Shuffle Tracking in Blackjack


Before anything else, remember that shuffle tracking only gets as hard as you make it. Do not try to track extremely thorough shuffles. If you find yourself going nuts with a particular shuffling style, it is probably better to find an easier one to exploit.

Shuffle Practice

Prior to actual tracking, familiarize yourself with the shuffling style first. Watch the dealer shuffle until you have the system memorized. Create a profile in your mind and try to repeat the shuffling process when you get home. Mark the cards as separate tracking units. For example, if it is a 6-eck game, mark every 26 cards as one tracking unit. Split the shoe at the cut-off level - say 70% - and simulate the shuffle. See where the different tracking units end up. This is how you practice shuffle tracking. Another way is to use computer simulation programs such as serious shuffle trackers use.

Shuffle Tracking in Action

Let us show you how to track a relatively simple shuffling style. Assume it is a 6-deck game and you have 12 tracking units of 26 cards each. You have 12 playing chips to symbolize the count of each unit with. The cut-off is at 75% so when the shuffle starts you have 9 chips for the played cards and 3 chips for the unplayed cards.

With the shuffling style memorized, you must now stack your chips just as the dealer does. Since you already know the style, you can do the routine faster or slower than the dealer does to avoid suspicion.

The dealer puts the unplayed cards on top of the discarded ones. Below is the shoe with tracking units numbered: Underscores denote every 52 cards (deck).

12 | 11_ | 10 |_ _Unplayed cards / Cut-off level 9__ 8 7__ 6 5__ 4 3__ 2 1__

The dealer splits the shoe in half and breaks up each one into three regions:

a) 12 | d) 6 11_ | 5__

b) 10 | e) 4 9__ 3__

c) 8 f) 2 7__ 1__

Next, the dealer takes the units on each level and riffles them together to combine them:

a + d = (11 + 12 + 6 + 5) b + e = (10 + 9 + 4 + 3) c + f = (8 + 7 + 1 + 2)

Finally, the dealer puts the clumps in this order:

b + f c + e a + d

Now you have 2 stacks of 6 chips each. Each letter above corresponds to 2 chips which tell you the total count of the two tracking units. Example: c = unit 8 + unit 7 = - 6. Let's say that e totals -3. c + e = -10. If those are the tracking units with the lowest count among all the levels, it is the region you should cut to. If b + f has a high count, you definitely want to put that level out of play.

If you get the cut card, cut 2 decks off the top to expose the c + e (the one with the -10 count) and banish the b + f (high count).

The key here is to be able to imitate what the dealer is doing. We have used a relatively easy shuffle to follow. You should be able to track shuffles a bit more complex. But once again, don't let shuffling drive you crazy. If it is, the shuffling style is probably too thorough and isn't worth your time.