A shoe is a casino device which is used for holding and dispensing playing cards to be dealt. In most cases, a shoe holds two, four, six or eight decks of playing cards. The device may be either opaque or transparent, but most traditional shoes are made out of wood.
The shoe allows for more games to be played since it reduces the time between shuffles. It also makes it harder for the dealer to cheat. However, the shoe also increases the house edge in games in which card counting is a possibility, such as Blackjack.
“Card counting players don’t like to play with a shoe, as it doesn’t give them a chance to utilize their skills.”
Before 1961, most Las Vegas casinos used a single deck for Blackjack. However, John Scarne, a famous American magician and card manipulation specialist who invented the shoe, asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board for a state ruling that would force casinos to use his device for all Blackjack games.
No ruling was ever passed, but Scarne was influential enough for most casinos to adapt this policy anyway. Scarne’s device is named shoe due to the fact that the earliest designs were very similar to a high-heel woman’s shoe. Blackjack games that use more than one deck of cards are often referred to as shoe games.