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Scramble

What is ‘Scramble’?

‘Scramble’ is a phrase that appears in card games to describe a shuffle technique. It is often used prior to a complete shuffle using a more traditional technique. Players might also request that the cards are ‘scrambled’ for fairness. The technique involves laying the cards face down at the table, and mixing them roughly by hand before pushing the deck back together.

‘Scramble’ Explained

In card games, a fresh deck upon opening is usually positioned in order, with each suit running from A-K. However, card games require that the cards are random when dealt, so each deck needs to be properly mixed before play. This is known as ‘shuffling‘. A deck is also shuffled when the cards run out and play starts again from the top, and sometimes at random intervals to keep the game fair. In the event of any misdeal or error, there is usually a reshuffle. Shuffling prevents tampering, such as cheating through setting the deck in a certain order, and it puts off card counters who try to get an advantage through the application of mathematical theory.

If a dealer chooses to ‘scramble’ the deck before or instead of shuffling it, they lay all the cards face down on the table and mix them up at random. The cards are then pushed back into the deck and properly aligned. This might be done to give the cards a little mix up before a round, or to throw off advantage players and cheaters. It is usually followed by a full shuffle, such as the riffle technique or the cut technique, where the cards are held in the hand and mixed up by flicking the corners or by cutting and dropping the cards. Using a variety of shuffles, including the scramble, ensures the game is fair.