Here’s Looking At You, Deck

At a Grand Prix Trial you are running at your local store, a spectator points out a player to you and asks you to watch the way he shuffles. Before the player’s match, you witness him riffle shuffle with the cards facing himself once, and then once with the cards facing away. He repeats this cycle several more times, once towards himself, once away, before presenting his deck to his opponent. You step in and ask the player some questions about his shuffling method. He answers that he always shuffles that way so his cards don’t develop a bend in them from riffle shuffling all in one direction.

What do you do?

Judges, feel free to discuss this scenario on Judge Apps!

Thank you everyone for your discussions and input on this scenario!

By shuffling his own deck with the cards facing himself, even with one shuffle afterwards away, it is possible for the player to know the position of cards in his deck when it should be completely randomized. From the IPG: “A deck is not shuffled if the judge believes a player could know the position or distribution of one or more cards in his or her deck.” The player has committed Insufficient Shuffling and should be given a Warning as well as a chat about proper ways to shuffle.

Various shuffling techniques were discussed; it’s important to note that players may – probably should! – use a variety of techniques, as long as the end result is a random, unknown ordering of the cards in their deck. Pile shuffles, riffles, mash/insert, etc. – these are all fine, even if some seem less effective by themselves. It’s also legal to shuffle your own deck with the cards facing you, or to mana-weave, etc., as long as you subsequently perform adequate randomization of the deck.

It also came up in the discussions this week that some judges would simply talk to the player and verbally caution them instead of giving them a Warning. It is important for organized play to give a consistent experience to players around the world when they are dealing with judges. The Infraction Procedure Guide is in place to be a guide and should be followed except under conditions outlined in the IPG for deviating from the written policy. If a player commits an infraction, then it is appropriate to give the player the penalty prescribed for that infraction and enter it into the tournament so it can be properly tracked.