Matt Crawford
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Some recent games with large decks, like Race for the Galaxy and its expansions, have me thinking again about shuffling. I was reading some other threads about shuffling, and came across a video from www.howtoshuffle.com about how to wash the cards.

I had never known of that term, or that "real shufflers" did that. Is it really as good of a randomizer as a riffle shuffle?

My impression is that all the cards on top would stay on top during a wash, although that sort of happens with a riffle shuffle too.

At the end of the video, he takes the top card and puts it on the bottom. What's the point of that? Seems arbitrary.

As a side point, I was also thinking about how we like to quote the statistical studies that say that you need to shuffle a normal deck 7 times to get a good random shuffle. I don't see that actually in the papers I'm looking at, like this original one by Bayer and Diaconis: http://projecteuclid.org/DPubS?service=UI&version=1.0&verb=D.... Their conclusion was that 3/2(log_2 of deck size) shuffles are needed, which is 8.5 for a standard deck of 52 cards. Where does the 7 number come from, if anyone can find a study?

Anyways, for RFTG with expansions, there are about 170 that need to get shuffled. That would mean I would need to shuffle 11 times. And I can't even shuffle the whole deck at once, so the calculations aren't any help in any case! That's what started me thinking about other methods of shuffling.

I also read some threads about card shufflers, but they don't sound that promising. Cheap automatic shufflers are all recommended against because they damage the cards. Manual automatic shufflers are apparently OK for some people, but they are so slow. And professional shufflers are obviously too expensive.
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Jim Cote
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gatchaman wrote:
At the end of the video, he takes the top card and puts it on the bottom. What's the point of that? Seems arbitrary.

For the same reason that you "burn" a card before the flop, turn, and river in hold'em. If there's any chance that the cards have subtle markings on them (stain, bad ink, nick, fold, etc), you want to remove any chance that the shuffler put a specific card on top. Always burying the top card before dealing means the new top card is guaranteed unknown.
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Billy McBoatface
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gatchaman wrote:
My impression is that all the cards on top would stay on top during a wash, although that sort of happens with a riffle shuffle too.
If you do the wash "right", you make an effort to repeatedly push the top cards under other cards as you swish them around the table. Do that well enough and it should be a decent shuffle.

In a riffle shuffle this won't happen at all if you take a simple precaution: After you cut, make sure that the first few cards to hit the table are from the hand holding what used to be the top of the deck. Also make sure that the last few cards to drop are from the hand holding what used to be the bottom of the deck. If you do this on each riffle, and you riffle a few times, then the original top and bottom cards could end up anywhere.

A riffle is good because it shuffles well, and once you get it down you can do it very quickly. A good wash takes a lot longer, but riffling a huge stack of cards is difficult, so washing makes more sense then.
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| Scott Kinzie |
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Washes and Riffle shuffles are the best way to randomize a deck, but I feel they generate more wear on the edges of the cards than pile shuffling.

If I'm not worried about the cards for a given game, I wash and riffle. But if I'm being protective of the edges (especially in a deck that has dark colors that run or bleed right over the edge) than I perform a careful pile shuffle. Usually 4 piles (randomly assign the cards to the 4 piles, and then randomly reassemble the piles), then do 7 piles (random assignment, random reassemble). This produces a very nice pseudo-random shuffle, breaking card clusters apart and assures that cards originally next to one another are moved apart. AND it protects the edges of the deck from "riffle-wear".

Edit: grammar
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Matt Crawford
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Thanks for the replies so far. Personally I don't care that much about the cards, like a bit of edge wear. I hate yuk playing with card sleeves so nothing is sleeved, and the cards from the original set are fairly worn.

But of course I don't want to have any bent cards, so that's why I'm avoiding the card shufflers unless I can get one of those $500 models for free... laugh
 
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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gatchaman wrote:
But of course I don't want to have any bent cards, so that's why I'm avoiding the card shufflers unless I can get one of those $500 models for free... laugh


Get me one of those free shufflers too! I could use.
 
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Matt Crawford
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So I tried doing a wash of the cards for our lunchtime Race for the Galaxy game today (180-ish cards), and it was not too bad. Table size was the only problem -- this that many cards, I'd really like to have a bigger table. I definitely felt like I was just moving cards around on top of each other, but they weren't mixing up that much. Oh well. I'll keep trying it.
 
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| Scott Kinzie |
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gatchaman wrote:
I definitely felt like I was just moving cards around on top of each other, but they weren't mixing up that much.


My preferred way to wash the cards is to use both hands and pull cards off the top of the wash pile in a north - south motion and then push them back toward the pile (this tends to push them under the large pile). Then, do a pull east - west, push back motion and keep alternating. This tends to pull cards off the top and mix them back into the bottom of the big pile.

This technique also keeps the cards in a smaller area, solving your small table problem.
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Steve Russell
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gatchaman wrote:
Where does the 7 number come from, if anyone can find a study?




If I remember correctly, I believe that it was a mathemetician who wrote an article for Scientific American that (using fractals) calculated that 7 was the maximum number of shuffles that would be needed to randomize the deck.

edit: Here's a link stating the same thing:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/38434/title/Shuff...
 
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Noel Yap
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If you read the text that accompanies the video, it says:
Quote:
It is usually acceptable to take one card off the top of a pile of cards and slide it under the cards to assist you in lifting all the cards off the table.

 
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