Shuffling: it’s time-consuming, it’s annoying, if you have small hands like me it can be downright painful… and if you play in tournaments, it’s something you’re going to have to get used to doing a lot. You’re expected to shuffle your deck at the beginning of each game, each time you look at your deck during a game (such as resolving a search effect like Maze’s End), or any time a card instructs you to do so, like Elixir of Immortality. There are various methods of shuffling, but what method you use isn’t particularly important, as long you use a method (or combination of methods; side shuffle, riffle, mash) that leaves the deck sufficiently random: that is to say, reasonable to believe that no player could know the approximate or relative position of any of the cards in the deck. Be aware that if a judge determines your shuffling isn’t sufficient, you could receive a penalty! If you play at Competitive REL events like Grand Prix Trials and Pro Tour Qualifiers, get used to shuffling your opponent’s deck as well.
Now, let’s talk about “pile shuffling,” where a player takes cards from the top of the deck, one at a time, and lays them out face down in a numbered series of piles. Pile “shuffling” is not random, and therefore IS NOT actually shuffling! The reason being is that if the exact order of the deck is already known, all “pile shuffling” does is redistribute the cards, but the player still has perfect knowledge of which card is in which position in the deck. That’s not to say that doing a pile shuffle will earn you a penalty, but since you have to present a thoroughly shuffled deck anyway, you may as well save time by only using methods which properly randomize.
Today’s Tournament Tip written by Jen Wong