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If you are familiar with counting cards in blackjack and have spent a little time playing blackjack in a live casino, you’ve probably heard the term shuffle tracking a few times. Shuffle tracking in blackjack is sometimes referred to as card clump tracking because the strategy involves the blackjack player making an effort to keep track of groups of cards or “clumps” during a shuffle. It is part of card counting just as the following: Edge Sorting, Hole Carding, Wonging in Blackjack, Camouflage Betting, Team Play, Betting Spread, & Risk Of Ruin.

Because it relates precisely to the shuffling of cards at a blackjack table, shuffle tracking is most effective in live games that deal from a six or eight-deck shoe.

The Premise of Shuffle Tracking

All card counting methods and blackjack strategies are based on a premise, or theory. The theory behind shuffle tracking is that it is possible to predict the location of cards in a shoe. If the theory is correct, shuffling at the blackjack table does not produce the random arrangement of cards that the casinos require to maintain their edge in the game.

Today, most live casinos are making use of automatic shuffling machines like the ones used in games such as poker and Let it Ride. The reason for this is that the old method of having the dealer shuffle the cards by hand was time consuming and did not always produce the best results. Dealers simply did not have time to be thorough. There are still some live casinos, however, where dealers shuffle by hand. This is mostly found in smaller casinos.

There are various methods for shuffling the cards by hand in blackjack but a casino usually has guidelines that they expect their dealers to follow. Some shuffles can be quite complex and produce a more random arrangement of cards while others can be quite simple. The effectiveness of shuffle tracking is definitely influenced by the thoroughness of the shuffle.

The Basics of Shuffle Tracking

Shuffle tracking really begins with card counting. A player without the requisite card counting knowledge and experience will find it impossible to shuffle track accurately. You can find a wealth of information on card counting here at Counting Edge but for the purpose of our shuffle tracking discussion what you really need to remember is this:

  • In blackjack tens and aces are good for the player. The more of them that are in the deck the higher the count goes.
  • Low cards like 4, 5, and 6 are good for the dealer. They can allow the dealer to “draw out” and are seldom a part of a winning hand.

Card counting is a way for a player to know an approximate ratio between the high cards and low cards at any given time during play.

In a live casino the cards are dealt from a six or eight-deck shoe. When the cards are shuffled and placed into the shoe, a yellow card is inserted near the rear of the shoe to mark the “cut off” or point where the cards must be reshuffled. The cut off is usually about ¾ deep, meaning that it contains the last ¼ of cards in the shoe. These cards never come into play during a blackjack game. Using a cut off is primarily done to prevent card counters from reaching a point where their count becomes super accurate. The accurateness of a count improves with deck penetration.

If you are a card counter, keeping an accurate count can go hand in hand with shuffle tracking to perhaps offer you an added edge. Let’s say that you have counted into a six-deck shoe and found the count to be +6 when the cutoff is reached, the shuffle tracker would assume that the cards below the cutoff are not favorable to the player. The reason for this is that the final count of a completed deck in many basic systems should equal zero. It then becomes imperative to track that clump or packet of cards as it is shuffled by the dealer for the next round. If the tracking has been successful, the player will note the placement of these unfavorable cards as they begin to appear and assume a “clump” is likely.

The Problem with Blackjack Shuffle Tracking

While we don’t totally discount shuffle tracking as a blackjack strategy (and take our word that there are many publications out there that specifically address this strategy), we would like to point out a few problems with it. Aside from the fact that a player must almost be a genius or wizard to maintain the count, basic strategy, and a shuffle track, here are some issues:

  • The technique is worthless in online blackjack because online blackjack does not use a shoe or a shuffle that the player can see.
  • Many live casinos have replaced the hands of the dealer with an automatic shuffler. example las vegas casinos.
  • The theory behind shuffle tracking has not been substantiated in the same way that card counting has. In short, there is little proof of its effectiveness.


What is shuffle tracking?

  • Shuffle tracking involves tracking specific groups of cards during the shuffling process to gain an edge in blackjack. It’s used to follow certain sequences of cards throughout the shuffle.

2. How does shuffle tracking work?

  • Players observe and remember where groups of favorable cards are located in the deck. During the shuffle, they track these groups to estimate where they’ll end up in the new shuffled deck.

3. Is shuffle tracking legal?

  • Like card counting, shuffle tracking is not illegal, as it doesn’t involve any external tools or devices. However, casinos frown upon this practice and may ask suspected shuffle trackers to stop playing.

4. Can shuffle tracking be used in all blackjack games?

  • Shuffle tracking is most effective in games where the dealer shuffles the cards manually. It is almost impossible in games with continuous shuffling machines.

5. How is shuffle tracking related to card counting?

  • Shuffle tracking often complements card counting. While card counting helps players know when the odds are in their favor, shuffle tracking can increase the edge by allowing players to bet more when those favorable clumps of cards are likely to be dealt.

6. Is shuffle tracking effective in online blackjack?

  • Generally, no. Online blackjack typically employs software that simulates random shuffling or uses automatic shuffling machines, making shuffle tracking ineffective.

7. How do players learn to shuffle track effectively?

  • Practice is essential. Players often start by observing live blackjack games, paying attention to the shuffle and trying to track sections of the deck. There are also instructional materials and software to help refine the skill.

8. Can casinos counter shuffle tracking?

  • Yes, casinos can use multiple decks, continuous shuffling machines, or complex shuffling procedures to make shuffle tracking more difficult.

9. What’s the difference between shuffle tracking and ace sequencing?

  • While both are advanced techniques, ace sequencing involves tracking when an ace is likely to be dealt. In contrast, shuffle tracking is about following groups of favorable cards through the shuffle.

10. Is shuffle tracking a standalone strategy?

  • It can be, but it’s often used in conjunction with other advantage play techniques like card counting to maximize effectiveness.

Shuffle tracking is an advanced skill that requires a great deal of practice, observation, and quick thinking. While potentially profitable, it’s essential to remember the ethical considerations and house rules when playing in any casino environment.

Further reading:

2 Response Comments

  • Ryan OwensJune 15, 2017 at 6:08 am

    I think there’s an error in the last paragraph under “The Basics of Shuffle Tracking”. You provide an example….”….count is at +6 when cut off is reached……..which means the packet of cards below the cut off is -6, a count which is very bad for the player”. If we know that at cutoff (75% penetration), the count is +6, that means there will be a higher amount of 10/J/Q/K/A’s (as each are -1) in the remaining cards (last 25%). Expecting the next clump of cards to decrease the count by 6 (to bring us to 0, upon completion of the deck ) has to mean that there are more -1’s than +1’s in the remaining clump of cards (more 10’s/A’s than 2/3/4/5/6). The number of 10’s/A’s will exceed the number of 2/3/4/5/6’s by a total of 6 (which would equal -6 for that clump) On the other hand, if we were already at -6 when cutoff was reached, then we would know that the majority of the remaining cards would be 2/3/4/5/6 (as each are +1), which favors the dealer. Unless I’m wrong, I think you have the signs transposed in your example.

    • countingedgeJune 15, 2017 at 6:15 am

      Ryan, Thanks so much for being a Counting Edge reader. We enjoy thoughtful comments from our visitors, and yours is very well-reasoned. In reviewing the article we can see the problems you pointed out with the last paragraph. We are currently revising that section of the article to present a more accurate view of the subject. Good luck at the tables!


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