How to Properly Shuffle a Deck of Cards for Poker

Every game in a casino has its own dealing quirks and tricks – poker is no different. There are things that are done in poker that are exclusive to poker, and some things that are just common. The shuffle is one of the common steps – you can use these steps to shuffle for any single deck game.

The first recommendation I can make is to use 100% plastic cards (such as KEM, Copac, DaVinci, and many others) – don’t get plastic coated, get 100% plastic cards. They will more than pay for themselves over the years of use you’ll get out of them.

Now, for the basic shuffle, there are three basic steps:

  1. The Wash
  2. The Riffle
  3. The Cut

I’ll explain each in detail below.

1. The Wash

Traditionally, a full wash is done after changing decks, after a dealer change, or on occasion after dealing for a while at a non-shuffle machine table. Every card face should touch the felt in a full wash, and it should take about 5 or 6 seconds, maximum. A full wash isn’t necessary between every hand, a mini-wash is sufficient between every hand.

A wash is when you spread the deck face down, and move your hands over them in a circular motion, lightly touching the cards to spread them around. Gather them in, and use either the cut card or the top card(s) to collect the deck, then lift it and face them away from you (unlike house games, where you face the cards towards you). Knock the deck on the table to get some of the deck horizontal, then square it up with your thumbs and place it flat on the table.

2. The Riffle

The standard casino shuffle is a “riffle, riffle, box, riffle” – a riffle means to split the deck in two equal parts, lifting the corners of each with your thumb, and alternatively guide them back together.

RiffleA box is to take the deck into one hand, and grab a portion of the deck from the top, then pull it down to the felt. Repeat the same process, pulling down sections of the deck until you’ve replaced the bottom on the top.

You should but boxing about 3 or 4 times. Five or more is overkill, and once is not enough. Keep all portions of the deck parallel to the table the entire time.

3. The Cut

The last step is to square the deck face down in front of you with your cut card parallel to, and directly in front of, your deck. Take your dominant hand, lift one third of the deck, and place it down on the cut card. Then, using the same hand, take the other two thirds of the deck and place it on top of the first half. (Never use two hands to cut the deck.) Pick up the deck in your non-dominant hand, square it up, and prepare to deal. TRIVIA TIME – The first cut of the deck in step 3 is the technical beginning of a new hand in poker.


“It’s hard to walk away from a winning streak, even harder to leave the table when you’re on a losing one.”

― Cara Bertoia,

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