RE: ShuffleTech

ShuffleTech Flush-Mounted Shuffler: Solid Base Hit

by , Sep 6, 2008 | 8:13 pm

By Patrick T. Mulry
Special Contributor to

a shuffletech shuffler installed in a lone star poker table

I received one of the first production models of the new ShuffleTech shuffler a couple of weeks ago. I loaned them the use of one of our poker tables for the WSOP Gaming Life Expo, so that put me near the top of the list for production models. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a distributor for ShuffleTech. You can be the judge about whether this is a fair review or not, but I’ll try not to pull any punches.

I’m attaching a photos that I shot with my cell phone camera that shows the shuffler installed in one of my poker tables. As you can see, it is mounted with a flush mount kit so that the top of the shuffler is flush with the top of the felt. The shuffler can also be operated as a stand-alone unit on a table. In that case, you can choose to either insert and remove the cards from the top of the unit, or you can flip a switch and the cards will eject out the side of the unit.

The top of the unit has two buttons on the left side and a green/red LED. There is also a clear plastic door that opens to permit the insertion and removal of the deck of cards. The buttons select how many times you want the deck shuffled, 3 or 7. The green light tells you when the shuffler is ready to go. The rest of the machine resides below the table. The shuffler connects to a DC power brick, which provides the proper voltage to run the machine.

Operating the shuffler is simple. Inside the unit there is a tray in the middle that moves vertically during shuffler operation. After opening the lid by pressing down on it, you place the deck on the tray, close the lid, then press the 3 or 7 button. The first operation is a riffle, so the shuffler cuts half the deck to one side tray, then the other half of the deck to the tray on the opposite side of the machine. The vertical tray lowers itself to the bottom of the machine, then little wheels spin on both sides of the machine, riffling the cards back into the center tray. After all cards are returned to the tray, the tray returns to the top position for the next operation.

Pressing the 3 button causes the shuffler to riffle the deck twice, strip it once, and then riffle it one final time. Remove the deck, cut the cards for good measure, and you’re all set. Press the 7 button and the shuffler riffles and strips it a lot more. I would assume it riffles 7 times and strips it once or twice, but honestly, I didn’t keep count. Obviously, the 7 setting takes longer to shuffle the cards than the 3.

We used the shuffler in our regular game the day after it arrived. Our regular game is typically an 8- or 9-person NLHE SNG that usually lasts a few hours, followed by a few more hours of low-limit NLHE. We typically have two decks working, one deck in play and the other being shuffled by the player on the button, which is kind of a pain if a player is shuffling while playing.

The main advantage of the shuffler is that it definitely made for quicker play at the table, and it made the game more enjoyable for everyone since nobody had to shuffle the deck. One guy in the “dealer” seat was responsible for operating the shuffler, which was no big deal. The flush mount kit worked well; we didn’t have any cards get stuck on or around the shuffler, which is smoother/slicker than the felt itself. In our SNG, we typically play 20 minute rounds. When hand shuffling ,we are lucky (especially in the lower blinds levels) if the table completes a full orbit in a round. After installing the ShuffleTech shuffler, we were easily making at least one orbit per round or more. If I were running a card room, the ROI on one of these shufflers would be calculated in days, if not hours. One more plus is that it looks cool in the poker table.

In operation, the shuffler worked nearly flawlessly all night. We had a card get hung up once inside the unit in about 5 hours of constant play and use. Removing the card from one of the side trays in the machine was done easily by hand and the card re-inserted in the deck. That compares favorably with ShufleMasters that I’ve sat next to in use in casino poker rooms, and certainly was better than hand shuffling.

ShuffleTech recommends using Copag’s poker-sized cards with the shuffler and sends a new double-deck of Copag acetate cards with every shuffler. I ran the new cards through on both the 3 and 7 settings. A brand new deck of cards is best run through on 7 for the first time or two, but after that (and especially with a wash before inserting the used deck into the shuffler and a cut after retrieving it and before dealing it), I felt like using the 3 setting was sufficiently randomizing the cards. For testing purposes, I also ran both Copag bridge-sized cards and Dal Negro poker-sized cards through the shuffler, and both worked just fine. The bridge-sized cards were a little sloppier since they are narrower than poker-sized cards and the trays are all sized to use poker-size cards. Unless you’re really wedded to using bridge-size cards for some reason, it would be better to use poker-sized cards with this shuffler.

The main disadvantage of the shuffler is that it is not silent. It’s hard to compare it with a ShuffleMaster shuffler like the ones they use at the casinos because the ambient noise levels in a casino poker room and my poker room at home are completely different. But I’ve sat at the 9 position at enough casino tables — right in front of a ShuffleMaster shuffler — to note that the ShuffleMaster seems to make very little noise. That is not the case with the ShuffleTech shuffler. It isn’t loud, but it isn’t quiet, either. You can definitely hear the shuffling going on inside the machine, but it doesn’t compare with the buzzsaw sound and crappy operation of the cheap battery-powered shuffler that you can buy at WalMart.

With their shuffler, the ShuffleTech guys have built a good product that does what it is advertised to do and does it well. It is compact, far more affordable than the competition, and is easily installed in the poker table. The guys at my game all really appreciated it and felt like it kicked the game up a notch. For a first effort from a brand new company, the ShuffleTech shuffler is a solid base hit.

Pat Mulry is president of Lone Star Poker Tables.

6 Comments to “RE: ShuffleTech ”

  1. DanM

    Thanks for this firsthand insight, Pat.

    I am kinda surprised that they designed the thing for “poker sized” cards and not “bridge size”. Not saying that was a bad decision … in fact, I suppose that’s one of the big differences between home games and casino games — a quarter inch in the size of the cards.

    However, since most underground games use bridge-size … ShuffleTech might be missing out on a market of several thousand tables where the owners of them might be more inclined to spend the $600 or so to make their games auto-shuffled.

    (That’s the price you’re looking at, right? Maybe $1,000 with installation?)

  2. ItsOverJonny

    Does this unit have any facility for counting the cards in the deck? A fairly important feature of the ShuffleMaster units is counting down the deck to prevent holding out and other shenanigans.

    I definitely agree that the payback on these things is a VERY small amount of time in a raked cash game setting.

  3. DanM

    here’re more details about how it works, jonny:

    they don’t mention card-counts, but they do talk a lot on their website — — about integrity and fairness … so … maybe?

  4. Grunkzzz

    Does it make marks on the cards like shufflemaster does?

  5. Mulry

    I haven’t used it enough to see any marks on the cards like the ShuffleMaster makes. We used it for somewhere between 5 and 6 hours the first night and I didn’t notice any changes to the Dal Negro cards that I was using. But if you figure 30 hands an hour on average (we were getting in about 10 hands/round in the tournament and our rounds are 20 minutes long), each deck was run through the shuffler probably only 75-100 times that night, since we were using two decks (one in play, one in the shuffler).

    And to clear something up, bridge sized cards do work in the shuffler, but it’s sized for poker-size cards. I didn’t notice any failures with the bridge-sized cards when I was testing the unit out. Obviously I’m biased, but if I were running a raked game (which I’m not), the auto shuffler is just a no brainer. Even if you only get 5 additional hands per hour dealt, at a $5/hand rake, that’s an additional $25/hour/table. At that rate, you pay off the unit in just the first couple of days and then it’s all gravy.

    Although I didn’t mention it above, the units come with a 1-year factory warranty, and you can purchase an additional warranty from the factory for a total of 3 years of factory warranty coverage.

  6. pdisme

    Patrick, are you actually able to ship these now (being a reseller)? I’ve been trying to get the one I ordered for months, have a new Stine table sitting here with a big hole cut in it, and can’t get any response on if and when my order will ever be filled.