Learn how dealers use stacked decks to cheat players at blackjack and poker, and learn how to recognize stacked decks at blackjack and poker.
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Cheating at Blackjack and Poker: Stacking a Deck

 
How card mechanics make a stacked deck
 
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How to Stack a Deck

By Sam Case
(From Blackjack Forum Vol. III #1, March 1983)
© 1983 Blackjack Forum

 

Stacking a deck requires two stages -- location and placement. Location is just finding the cards, placement is putting them where you want them in the stacked deck. Whenever the exact order of the deck is prearranged, the location step can be omitted. One example of a prearranged deck is a fresh one.

All players know that a deck comes in a standard order. From the front to the back, according to suit, they read A to K, A to K, then K to A, K to A. Many players know that the center clump, which consists of 8 tens, can be shuffled to the bottom, and kept out of play (see the last issue of Blackjack Forum). Few players realize that a dealer starting with a fresh deck could stack himself a blackjack on the first round, even with his eyes closed.

Try this yourself. Get a deck in it's new order. You will need that ace that's sitting on top and the clump of tens in the center. Cut the top half of the deck to the right. Be sure to cut near the center so you are left with a paint (face card) on the left hand half.

We'll set up a dealer blackjack against a head-on player. Riffle shuffle the cards together evenly, except make sure that the top card from the right hand packet falls directly under the last card from the left.

Square up the deck. Now we have a ten on top, an ace under it, then the rest of the deck.

Now shuffle as I described last time to preserve the top two cards of the stack, since most dealers do three riffles and only two are needed to do the dirty work. This is basically a "stalling" shuffle.

Now it's stack time. Cut the top half to the right, and riffle evenly except hold back the top three cards on the left side, and the top two on the right. Do this slowly and carefully. Drop one from the right, one from the left, the last from the right, and finally the last two from the left. (Forget the cut for now.)

Square up, burn a card, and deal to an imaginary player. Shame on you! By hiding your ace you didn't even give the player a chance to insure!

If there had been seven people at the table, the shuffle would be similar. The first two shuffles would be the same. On the third shuffle, hold back fifteen instead of three cards. Drop one from the right, seven from the left, one from the right, then eight from the left. Deal out the deck to a full table, and you still have your blackjack. This would take a more skilled cheat.

You may be wondering what would happen if a player joined the table after the dealer had stacked the deck. Well, using the old standby, the second deal, the hand can be saved.

Now, what about the next shuffle? Well, the dealer would scoop up the cards carefully, making sure that the blackjack goes just under the burn card. He would first bring the blackjack to the top in the first two shuffles, then stack on the third. Thus, he could keep getting the same blackjack over and over.

Often, if you're being cheated by a dealer who keeps getting first round blackjacks, this is what is happening. Until you catch on, it will seem as if lady luck is out to lunch and it will cost you time and money. You could spot this quickly if you remember the Sam Case First-Round Blackjack Rule: Any time a dealer gets a first round blackjack, memorize the suits of the ace and the ten. Walk if the dealer gets that pair again.

Getting back to the cut, which is supposed to be your insurance against a stacked deck, a good cheat can nullify your cut, but this will have to be covered in detail in a future article. For the simplest method of nullifying a cut see my article on "Crimps" in Blackjack Forum Vol. II #3.

While I'm on the subject of memorizing an occasional card or two, I'll let you know the simplest method to prevent a dealer from pulling a turn-over on you. That's when you're playing, and during the first half of the deck you've seen a pile of low cards. You push out a big bet, but as soon as you glance away the dealer flips the deck over.

You start playing against those discards the same low cards that already brought you so much grief. You're at a big disadvantage, but continue to bet more and more since your count keeps climbing higher. Very bad. But suppose you took the trouble to memorize just one card on every round. If one of those cards flips out a second time before a shuffle, you'll know it and save yourself some money. If you don't trust your card memory, try reading "Perfecting Your Card Memory", available from the Gambler's Book Club.

Final words: Be very suspicious of a dealer who watches his hands while shuffling. There's no reason for that. Touch is enough. A dealer who watches the shuffle is probably either a rookie or a cheat. Experienced, honest dealers usually spend their shuffling time making eye contact with customers to encourage tips. That's the way it should be. ♠

 

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