Years ago, when the majority of casinos were blatantly run by organized crime syndicates, cheating at the blackjack tables was a lot more common. I’m not talking about players trying to cheat the casino, but rather dealer’s using duplicitous means to further increase the house edge. It’s a rarity in this day and age thanks to strict regulatory guidelines and severe penalties, but unfortunately, the practice is not extinct. We’ll discuss a few of the ways casinos and blackjack dealers may try to swipe more dollars from your pocket.
The most common method is simply shuffling and dealing the cards in hyper-speed. A dealer who plays out the hands in such a quick fashion isn’t necessarily cheating, but they are ensuring the casino makes more money in as short a time frame as possible. Due to the odds always being in the house’s favor, no matter how slightly, every hour that goes by translates to a profit for the casino. The more hands that are dealt in that hour the higher the profit will be.
Players should always avoid playing at a table where the dealer seems to be working too quickly. Not only is it bad for your bankroll in the long run, it reduces the player’s ability to count cards, while giving a deceptive dealer a better chance of pulling off actual cheating methods without the player realizing what’s going on.
For example, one of the actual cheating methods a dealer might use would be a simple sleight of hand trick, which is entirely illegal. Perhaps the player has a hand of 12 showing and decides to hit. Instead of dealing an unknown card from the top of the deck, the dealer might try to deal from the bottom of the deck, where they know a 10 or face card awaits. Again, it’s extremely rare that a dealer would attempt to pull off such a deceitful trick, but it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened. In the past, casinos were caught doing this, and floor managers would even assist by ordering a waitress to distract the player during the scam.
Another trick that you’ll hopefully never encounter in this day and age is the removal of one or more high cards from the shoe. The less 10’s and face cards there are in play, the less frequently the casino will have to deliver a 3:2 or 6:5 payout for blackjack. Only avid card counters would catch such a farce, and by implementing this next cheating mechanism, selective shuffling, it could be gotten away with rather easily.
When playing blackjack, the dealer will generally only shuffle the cards when the shoe is nearly depleted. However, selective shuffling occurs when the dealer chooses to reshuffle the cards long before necessary. There are only two reasons a blackjack dealer might do this. The first is if the dealer notices that a lot of low cards, but very few high cards have been played. The second reason is if the dealer suspects a player of card counting. They may reshuffle in an effort to reset the count, preventing the player from gaining an advantage. If the dealer attempts to shuffle the deck after only a few rounds, don’t be afraid to call them out on it.