I can tell you that if given the choice of playing at a casino with an automatic shuffler or one that does not is a no brainer for me. I am going to choose the one with the automatic shuffler every time. The one major exception would be the WSOP in Las Vegas. During the WSOP they have hundreds of tables going at the same time at the Rio and I’m sure it’s just not cost effective to put a shuffler in everyone of those tables. You really see the difference in the speed of the game when the dealer is doing the shuffling as opposed to the automatic shuffler.
Cash Games vs. Tournies
Most casinos on the strip in Las Vegas all have the automatic shuffler for cash games. It is in the casino’s best interest to invest in the machine because it pays for itself in the long run. The bottom line is the more hands that are dealt the more rake that is going to be dropped and this is how the house makes it’s money. A lot of times I’ve noticed that when certain casinos have tournaments they don’t use the machine. At Caesar’s Palace for example, the dealers do all the shuffling even though they use the machine for the cash games. The Venetian on the other hand, uses the automatic shuffler for their tournaments. A lot of players will choose the Venetian tournaments over Caesars for this reason alone. The automatic shuffler is faster, cleaner, and just leaves no doubt that the cards are being shuffled correctly.
Hands per hour with Automatic Shuffler vs Live Dealer
Asking around most people will tell you that live dealers average somewhere between 20-25 hands per hour. Of course the faster ones may deal 30 hands an hour on average. The automatic shuffler increases that number to about 35 hands per hour. That may not sound like a lot but if you play an 8-10 session that can really add up especially over the course of a week or even a month.
Integrity of the Game
I don’t think you have to worry about this so much on the strip in Vegas, but in some smaller casinos across the country I’m not so sure. Any time you introduce the human element there are going to be mistakes and dishonesty when money is involved. Today’s computerized, automatic shufflers are programmed to shuffle the cards as random as possible. They don’t have friends at the table or certain regulars that they know will tip them better if they win a big pot. Live dealers on the other hand have these temptations everyday. It would be easy for a live dealer to manipulate the shuffle to help out certain players if they wanted to do that. Believe me it happens in certain places. Also, the machine doesn’t get distracted. It always shuffles the cards the same way. I do admit that if a dealer did have the motivation to cheat then the automatic shuffler is not going to stop them. It just makes it more difficult.
It used to be that you were out of luck if you wanted to put in one of these high dollar machines in your own table. Reason being is because the technology is so valuable the maker wouldn’t sell you one. He would only lease them to the casinos. He knew he could make more money that way. In 2008 one entrepreneur set to build his own and he came up with a version that cost less than $500. You can read about it on CardPlayer.com here Shuffler for Home Games
There are two main advantages for the player while playing poker with the automatic shuffler. One being that the game moves along much faster so you get to see more hands and ideally win more money. The other reason is that the automatic shuffler does a better job of shuffling the cards than a live dealer making the cards more random. If you are a dealer the more hands you deal then theoretically the more money you will make in tips since that is your primary income.