If you love to play poker or any card game and either have trouble shuffling or need help for medical reasons, there are few quality solutions available to you. The disparity in price between affordable automatic card shufflers and casino grade machines is enormous. Even so, there are a few decent models out there at a low enough price point to fit into most everyone’s budget.
From 2 deck manual (hand crank) shufflers up to 4 or 6 deck electric models, I have included only the shufflers that I would use myself. If a brand did not meet my stringent requirements to do the job it’s supposed to do properly, it didn’t make my list. You will notice that I only included 5 models in this review. That’s because there is a lot of really bad “lemons” out there when it comes to automatic card shufflers!
My goal is to save you the time and hassle of trying to find something that works well. I want to help you find the best home poker shuffler in the world. To that end, I have compiled two separate lists to help you in your search. The first covers manual or hand-cranked shufflers and the second covers battery operated automated shufflers.
The Best Manual Card Shufflers (Hand Crank)
The best choice, by far, of all other affordable shufflers out there. It’s quite and shuffles smooth, hardly ever jamming. Unfortunately, this model was recently discontinued. Get one while you can!
A nice alternative to the Classic Game shuffler. This one has been extensively well-reviewed and will work nicely. It is my 2nd choice overall in card shufflers. It has a very attractive design, is quiet, and shuffles smoothly.
The Best Electric Card Shufflers
I am not a big fan of electronic shufflers. However, I realize not everyone feels this way. If you like the convenience of pushing a button to shuffle, I recommend this model over all others.
If you need to shuffle more than just a couple of decks for Blackjack or another multi-deck game, choose this model. It is rather loud, but functions well and does the job.
The newest model on my list. This shuffler comes with the Bicycle name attached to it. Initial reviews have been mixed but it has a sleek and more attractive look than some of the older versions.
What To Look For In An Automatic Card Shuffler
Automatic card shufflers are designed to expedite the speed of play in a poker game, whether at a casino or your local home game. They are especially valuable if one or more of the players in a game are not adept at shuffling cards. Today, there are basically two options available for purchase; manual (hand crank shufflers) or electric.
Currently, there are not a ton of quality options out there. In fact, there is a huge gap in the market for mid-level shufflers. In other words, it’ll either cost you about $20 for a home shuffler or several hundred dollars for a high-end one, like this one found on Amazon. There is seemingly nothing in between!
Fortunately, the shufflers I have included in my review do a really good job for the amount you have to pay for them. The real gem of the bunch is the manual shuffler by Classic Games. It really stands out from the rest, I highly recommend it.
Criteria considered when evaluating different brands and models. My goal was to choose shufflers that meet the typical needs of individuals looking for automatic shufflers (in no particular order of importance).
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Low cost
- Shuffles fast
- Easy maintenance
- Reliable and does not jam often
- Ease of use
- Easy storage
By the way, if you ever have trouble with an automatic card shuffler binding up, or not working well, it might be due to low-quality playing cards
I highly recommend investing a few extra dollars and buying a high-quality deck of cards (click the link to see my recommendations).
Types Of Automatic Card Shufflers
For consumers, there are two options to choose from. Either you can buy one that cranks by hand or one that runs on batteries. Each type has features in common and both have separate pros and cons. While the differences are typically fairly subtle, they are worth noting.
Let’s go through each type separately.
Manual Card Shufflers
- Much more quiet than electronic models
- Low maintenance
- No batteries to replace
- Typically more durable construction
- Usually more compact
- Tends to last longer
- Not fully automatic, you still have to crank them
- A bit more difficult to use
- Slower shuffling
Battery Operated Card Shufflers
- Fully automatic
- “Cool” factor
- Easy to use
- Faster shuffling than manual models
- Battery costs
- More moving parts to break
- Very noisy – Actually so loud that it could be unsettling to some people or pets. You were warned!
- Rarely people, kids especially, get their fingers pinched
- Typically take up more room, are less compact
- Jams or misfires more often. Sometimes you have to hold the button down, just pressing it once often doesn’t work on some models
In my opinion, it makes much more sense to get a manual hand cranked version. By the way, manual shufflers have handles that turn really easily, if that is a concern of yours. Also,
Manual Card Shuffler Recommendations
The Classic Game hand crank model is by far my favorite card shuffler on the market at this price point. In fact, it is so much better than the “next best model”, that you might want to go ahead and skip the rest of the reviews and just get this one
I am that confident in how much better it is. Honestly, if this one doesn’t satisfy your requirements, then you are better off getting a much more expensive shuffler. The only bad thing about this model is that the manufacturer just discontinued it! If you are serious about getting an automatic card shuffler, you might want to hurry before all of them sell out
I have a feeling they won’t last much longer, which is unfortunate considering how “good” the other models out there are. A few things to keep in mind that might detract slightly, are the lack of instructions that come with it
Features of the Classic Game shuffler
- Shuffles up to two decks at once
- Works on both bridge and poker sized decks
- Easy to operate
- Much quieter than electronic shufflers
I included this one in my list as it also is a very competent model. While it is not quite up to the standard of the “Classic” mode, it holds it’s own and is still better than all of the other ones out there, manual or electric. Keep in mind that my review is based on my own experience and opinion, as well as the reviews of hundreds of other people. I don’t put any items on my list that I wouldn’t use myself.
Features of the Piatnik Card shuffler are
- Up to two deck shuffling
- Works on both bridge and poker sized decks
- Easy to operate
- Much quieter than electronic shufflers
Electric Card Shuffler Recommendations
This model shuffles up to 4 decks and is my top choice for automatic electric shufflers. The design is attractive enough and it is easy and straightforward to use. I recommend this model if you want to fully automate the process and don’t mind the extra noise or occasional replacement of batteries.
Features of the Casino Deluxe
- Up to four deck shuffling
- Battery powered
- A bit more convenient to use than manual models
- Much noisier than manual models, but not as bad as some of the other electronic choices
Features of the Trademark Casino shuffler
- Comprehensive instructions
- Battery operated
- Fast shuffling
- Very noisy
One of the newer models on the market. The design is noticeably more heavy duty than other models and has a sleek and attractive design. I recommend this model if you want to buy a more noticeable “brand” and like the sturdy, slightly better made, design.
Features of the Bicycle electronic shuffler
- The Bicycle brand attached to it
- Shuffles up to two decks at once
- Sturdy design
- Doesn’t jam as often as lesser models
- Really loud
How Automatic Card Shufflers Work
Human shuffling includes many variations, but most notably is when the dealer breaks the deck into two hands and then uses his or her thumbs to bend the deck slightly, letting the cards drop one by one, alternating from each hand. The idea is that every other card to mix with every other card. If you do this 3-4 times, a full shuffle is achieved. There are a few other manual shuffling variations, but the principle is the same. Cutting the deck at the end also helps out with randomness.
The automatic card shufflers I have reviewed use the same basic methodology, without the hands of course. The decks are again split into two roughly equal halves, and then typically placed in separate trays on the side of the machine.
Then, when you either push a button or begin turning a crank, the gears inside the unit will rotate and cards will begin being “grabbed” and pulled into one deck. As the cards are brought into one deck, the cards are supposed to be alternately shuffled up. The actual process is a bit more complicated, but that is the gist of it. Below is a YouTube demonstration of the top shuffler on my list.
Here is a general guide to operating shufflers that is mostly universal. The reason I included this in my article is due to the fact that many models do not come with instructions included.
Step 1: Insert batteries (if applicable)
Batteries typically are inserted in the bottom of the case. Most electronic shufflers run on C batteries. Be sure to check the box or instructions to see what type of batteries it takes. I recommend using alkaline batteries and not lithium. Alkaline is typically best for “low drain” electronics. Lithium is optimal for “fast drain” items, like cell phones or computers.
Step 2: Deck Placement
Place half the cards in one side and a half in the other. For shuffling one deck, you just cut it in two and set each half on one side. Multiple decks should be self-explanatory. Make sure that you insert the cards in an orderly flat manner. There is anecdotal evidence that a shuffler can damage cards. However, the damage, if true, was likely caused by faulty usage and not by the machine itself.
Step 3: Shuffle The Cards
By either pushing the button (for electric models) or turning the crank (manual models), you will typically see the cards being shuffled through a plastic window. Make sure that every single card has been shuffled into the center of the unit before you stop cranking. (on manual models). Electric shufflers typically stop automatically.
Step 4: Remove Cards
There is usually a tray holding the shuffled cards that can be pulled out of the unit. Simply remove the cards, reinsert the tray, and play your chosen game. Rinse and repeat step 1 to 4 after each hand, until you are finished playing. Then move on to step 5.
Step 5: Store The Unit Once Finished
When you are done playing, I recommend reinserting the shuffler back into its box or putting it somewhere where it cannot collect dust. To prolong the life of the shuffler, it is important to keep it in a dry, dust-free spot when not in use. Occasionally, you will want to clean the shuffler with a dry rag.
That’s it, easy peasy! Just to reiterate, it is imperative that you do not allow dust to collect on the shuffler. Over time, dust and dirt accumulation will happen on the gears, that can damage the “teeth” on the gears, causing the unit to have a mechanical failure. For the long-term health of your automatic shuffler, I recommend keeping it in the box when not I use.
A Brief History Of Mechanical Card Shufflers
In the late 1800’s, the rapid growth of gaming led to a revolution of new ideas regarding the tools of the trade. The first “automatic” card shuffler was invented by Henry Ash in 1878. The device was crude and consisted of dropping cards into a box and then shaking it to make them sift through a “comb” at the bottom. While it did the job, hand shuffling was still far superior. Overall, the initial attempts were basically a waste of time and did not catch on for the mainstream.
Fast forward to the
There are a few things you might want to consider to compliment your purchase of a poker chip set.
- Poker Chips
If you are buying supplies for your home game, don’t forget to get nice poker chips. To help you out in this endeavor, I wrote a comprehensive guide on sets under $100, just for you.
- Playing Cards
If you have read my articles for a while, you know that my favorite poker playing cards are made by Copag. This is because, in my opinion, they are infinitely better than any other brands out there. The only thing more important than quality poker chips is really nice playing cards. There’s nothing more satisfying than the feel of really good playing cards in your hands.
- Poker Tables
To some, the quality of your surface is a direct indicator of the quality of your poker game. For me, it’s all about personal need. You may have casual games with just a couple of friends of family members and only need a simple cloth or rubber roll-up poker mat. Or, you might be hosting a group of high rollers in your high-end poker room and need one of the finest high-end professional poker tables. Or you might be somewhere in the middle. In fact, most folks will settle in on a nice folding poker table, like this really popular one found on Amazon. Lucky for you, there is no guesswork since I have written a comprehensive poker table buyer’s guide to aid you in your search for the perfect poker equipment.
I also have written a handy guide that covers the keys to hosting the perfect poker night. I recommend reading it if you are fairly new to hosting home games, or want some tips on making those poker nights more fun for your guests (and you).
It’s true that most folks still like to shuffle their own cards. However, there is a segment of the population who either just can’t seem to ever get good at it, or needs help for health reasons, like arthritis. Luckily, there are a few relatively inexpensive options out there for automatic card shuffling. The two choices you have are either manual (hand cranked) models, or it’s much nosier counterpart, the automatic electronic card shuffler.
It’s really a matter of personal preference which type you choose. My strong opinion, however, is to lean toward buying a hand-cranked version. Not only are they much quieter they also require much less maintenance
Price really isn’t a factor, since both manual and electric shufflers are basically the same prices. For under $30, you can improve the quality of your poker nights and continue to enjoy poker for years to come.
Now, if we can just find a machine that will stack our poker chips for us!
For more, don’t miss The 3 Best Quality Playing Card Brands.