USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘shuffling’
Game

Magic the Gathering – Pile Shuffling 1

My informant plays Magic the Gathering.  One of the things you do in a game of Magic, before the start of the game, is you shuffle up your deck.  There are no strict rules to how a player may go about shuffling his or her deck, but there are a few preferred methods out there.  My informant prefers the method known as the 7-pile shuffle.  He learned this method by reading posts online from a Magic blogger by the name of Mike Flores.  According to Flores, who is regarded by my informant as an “activist of sorts with regards to the way people shuffle,” the 7-pile shuffle method is the best way to shuffle ones deck.  The 7-pile shuffle method involves taking your deck in one hand (or half your deck if it is too big to hold in your hand all at once) and dealing it out into seven piles in the way one would deal hands in poker.  After dealing out the entire deck into these piles, the player then recombines these piles.  After performing this shuffling ritual, my informant will then riffle shuffle about 5 or 6 times before deeming the deck adequately shuffled.  If he thinks the deck is particularly bad before starting out (usually right after a build session, where cards are often next to copies of each other and thus very non-random), he will perform the 7-pile shuffle twice before riffle shuffling.

I am also a Magic the Gathering player and I also employ the 7-pile shuffle method.  After each pile has been dealt, I will stack the 7 piles into two piles, then riffle shuffle those together before starting more riffle shuffle.  I learned the 7-pile shuffle method from a friend who simply said it was a good way to shuffle.  It’s also a good way to make sure you have the right number of cards in the deck, since you know which pile the last card should end up in if you did it right.  I also like the 7-pile shuffle method because when you start a game of Magic, each player draws 7 cards, so 7 piles for 7 cards lines up nicely.

Game

Magic the Gathering – Pile Shuffling 2

My informant spoke to me about rituals and practices of Magic the Gathering.  Of the most ritual acts of Magic is the shuffling ritual.  Since shuffling must always take place before a game, and since it involves the player’s deck, often something very personal to them, shuffling is very ritualistic.  While each player does it slightly differently, they almost always do it the same way and sometimes doing it differently gives you a bad feeling about the game.

The way my informant prefers to shuffle is with two runs of the 5-Pile shuffle, followed by riffle shuffling.  5-Pile shuffling is where you take the deck in one hand, or half the deck if it’s too big to hold, and you place cards from the top into five piles as though you were dealing out hands of poker.  You continue to place the cards into these piles until you have placed all the cards, then you pick them up and put them back into one big pile.  According to my informant, one of his friends told him this was the optimal way to shuffle the deck for good randomization.

I am also a Magic the Gathering player and I also employ the 7-pile shuffle method.  After each pile has been dealt, I will stack the 7 piles into two piles, then riffle shuffle those together before starting more riffle shuffle.  I learned the 7-pile shuffle method from a friend who simply said it was a good way to shuffle.  It’s also a good way to make sure you have the right number of cards in the deck, since you know which pile the last card should end up in if you did it right.  I also like the 7-pile shuffle method because when you start a game of Magic, each player draws 7 cards, so 7 piles for 7 cards lines up nicely.

Attached to the submission are two photos.  One photo is a demonstration of 5-pile shuffling and the other is a demonstration of 7-pile shuffling.

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