Some folks are a bit lost when it’s their turn to shuffle the cards. It isn’t a natural human ability, after all, and a lot of people – even keen poker players – don’t really know what they’re doing when they have the deck in their hands. If you grew up playing card games online, you probably never bothered to learn this once-essential skill.
For those who struggle with card shuffling, below are a few simple techniques that will more than suffice for any home game. If you really want to lift your game and impress your poker buddies, we’ll also show you some of the more advanced styles and explain why they actually are better than basic methods.
Overhand shuffle tutorial
This is far and away the most common shuffling technique in Australia, the United States and most of Europe. Just about everyone you know uses this method, or at least started off with it.
Despite this being the simplest and most popular way to shuffle cards, there is a shocking amount of bad advice about the overhand technique on the Web. Some of the tutorials out there will leave you feeling more confused than before.
Here’s one of the better how-to videos we found on Youtube:
What you’re trying to do here is strip small clusters of cards away from the deck by applying light pressure with the thumb of your dominant hand. Watch the tutorial above, practice for a few minutes, and you’ll have it down pat in no time.
Hindu shuffle method
This is a popular shuffling variation which, given the name, almost certainly originated in India. It is widely used in many parts of Asia, and some people actually find it easier to master than the standard overhand shuffle. We think it looks a bit more stylish, too.
Like the overhand, the idea is to use a light touch with your right hand (or your left, if you’re left-handed) to quickly take small packets of cards off the top of the deck. However, instead of holding the deck on a vertical tilt, it faces the floor while your shuffling hand moves underneath.
Here’s another easy-to-follow video tutorial:
Having seen both the overhand and hindu shuffle techniques, you might wonder if they are actually effective ways to randomise a deck of cards. And fair enough, too, as mathematical studies suggest it would take around 10,000 cycles to completely shuffle a single standard deck using these methods.
That begs the question: is there a better way that doesn’t require a degree in magic trickery?
Riffle shuffle technique
The riffle method is one that everybody has tried at least once. You know – the one that sends cards flying all over the room? With the right instruction and just a little bit of patience, however, this trick is actually quite easy to learn.
There are two types of riffle technique you can use:
Table riffle shuffle – You’ve almost certainly seen this method used by professional dealers in casinos and poker rooms. As the name suggests, you place the cards face-down on the table before weaving them together in one smooth motion.
In-the-hands riffle shuffle – Again, it does what it says on the tin. This is a little harder to master, but it looks cool as heck when done right (especially if you can pull off the bridge trick at the end).
Riffle shuffles are not only a lot of fun, but also much more effective than the more basic methods. With good execution, it only takes seven riffles to properly randomise the deck. Even if your riffles are a little bit clumpy at the beginning, one or two of those will usually mix up the cards much better than a full minute of perfect overhand shuffling.
If you can’t get the hang of any of the techniques above, or if you have some kind of impairment that affects your ability to grip the cards properly, you might try the Corgi shuffle. Also called the Irish shuffle or the chemmy shuffle, it requires no real skill and is a great way for beginners and children to randomise a deck.
The technique is very straightforward: just spread all the cards face down on the table, or the floor, and smush them around with your hands. Gather them into a pile, square off the deck and deal. To ensure a random order, we recommend sliding the cards around for about a minute before you start gathering them up.
Don’t be embarrassed to use this method if you must, for it is a perfectly legitimate shuffling technique – and a rather effective one, too. Indeed, it is still used in live dealer games and land-based casinos all over the world, particularly at the baccarat tables. So if it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for us.