How To Shuffle A Deck Of Playing Cards Like A Pro For Your Home Game

Why Shuffle Like A Casino Dealer?

If you’ve ever hosted a poker game at home, you’ve probably noticed that everyone has their own way of shuffling.

Shuffle cards like a pro.
Shuffle cards like a pro.

SEE ALSO: Seven Top Shuffle Techniques.

Despite the apparent varieties, these methods pretty much fall into one of three ways of shuffling: (1) the overhand shuffle (which includes all forms in which the deck is split and one of the sections returned to the other in chunks), (2) the riffle (which includes all forms of splitting the deck at putting the two parts back together so that they interlace), and (3) the scramble or muddle in which the cards are muddled about on the surface of the table before being put back into the deck.

Although the specifics will vary from person to person most methods are versions of the above. Same with the actual deal: some people will flick the cards across the felt face down, other’s will slide them off the deck and across the surface never letting go of the card until it sits right in front of you, still others will drop the cards flat into place. Variations exist ad infinitum.

But when it comes to games of chance, casinos do not leave the randomness of their dealers shuffle up to chance.

Instead they have a standard shuffle to ensure no one is cheating and there is no pattern left in the cards which can be exploited.

In fact there is almost no variation the world over in how a deck is shuffled for poker. This is because a full casino deal is truly random and designed to make it as hard as possible for the dealer to get up to anything shady. Which is probably as good a reason as any to ensure your home games are dealt the same way.

How To Shuffle

A casino shuffle includes all three type of shuffle done in very particular ways. The deck is muddled one, riffled twice, stripped twice, riffled again, and then cut.

The key to doing each part of the sequence is to try and have the cards off the table for the minimum amount of time.

The muddle: This is the only truly random way to shuffle and the way casino shuffles start. The deck is spread out in a line on the felt and then with large overlapping circles of the hands the line is broken up and mixed together, then the cards are brought back together and squared away.

The riffle: This is the flashiest part of the shuffle and the one that tends to take the most practice.

Cut the deck as near to exactly in half as you can manage and then push the long sides so that the far inside corners are touching and the deck are at a little under 40 degrees angle to each other.

Then pinning the outside and near edges of the two decks down with your fingers put your thumbs half way up the inside long edge of the two halves and lift them (your instinct may be to bend them from the corners but casino dealers avoid that to ensure the deck is visible enough to make cheating difficult for them). You should feel the elasticity of the cards pushing against your thumbs.

Move the two halves together a little so that the far inside corners will overlap when they fall from your thumbs. Then let that elasticity go in the cards one by one by slowly drawing your thumbs up. As the cards fall, the corners of the two halfs of the deck should interlock. Push the halves together and square the deck.

That is one riffle. Do do it again then strip the deck.

Stripping the deck: This is a form of overhand shuffle but done onto the table instead of into one hand. Pick up the deck between thumb and forefinger about half-way along its length. Then take small clumps of five to ten cards off the top and drop them onto the table in a neat pile. Do this two or three times.

Cutting the Deck: Riffle the deck once more (for a total of three riffles), then cut the deck using one hand. Do the cut onto a cut card at the end for added security. The cut card will prevent the bottom card from being shown to any of the other players during the deal, and also makes it harder for the dealer to deal cards off the bottom (a common form of cheating).

There you go, a full casino shuffle. Now time to dazzle your friends next time you shuffle up and deal.


Read our guide to online poker for beginners.

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