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=== The product ===
This is an automatic card shuffler designed to mix up your cards in just a few seconds.
=== The packaging ===
This came provided in a cardboard box. The box was quite plain but was adequate for protecting this from damage en-route to the store and when I was carrying it home from the town centre.
=== How to use this ===
Before you can use the shuffler you will need to insert 4 x AA batteries. There were no batteries included in the sale of this but it was not a problem as we have lots of rechargeable batteries in the house anyway. The batteries were simple to fit and it took just a few seconds to get them in place and start to use the card shuffler.
This is quite simple to use. You can mix up or two standard sized decks of cards on this. All you need to do is place roughly half the stacks on both the left and right hand side where there are allocated places for the cards to go. You then have a plastic piece in the bottom middle that you hold down and this will shuffle the cards. It takes about 5 seconds to shuffle the deck, maximum, and then they are ready to use. The machine is fairly noisy when shuffling the cards but as a poker night in our house is generally a loud event this goes unnoticed really and is not a disturbance in any way. If you are shuffling a brand new deck of cards then I have found that you will need to run it through 3 or 4 times to ensure that the cards are mixed up well as it is quite common to see little runs of cards if you only shuffle once, this is obviously a major flaw if you are going to plan a game of gin as it means that one player will possibly end up with a full hand of cards that is very favourable from the off.
The cards will be mixed together and then just above the 'press here to shuffle' button there is a plastic tray with two cut out pieces in the plastic. This allows you to pull out the little tray and remove the newly shuffled cards. You can then either run them back through or play with the cards, whatever your preference is really.
=== Where to purchase this from & for how much ===
This can be purchased from Argos.co.uk for £14.99 and I purchased mine at the start of 2011 reduced to just £5.49 in a sale which I found to be a very reasonable price. This is a real gimmicky item so I would not have wanted to pay £14.99 for it, however, if you have a little more money to waste and are looking to give your poker nights a more professional feel then this is worth every penny.
=== Overall opinion ===
This really was an impulse purchase that I got when queuing to pay for something in Argos. I felt that the price was reasonable, particularly as I was using some gift vouchers I had left over from Christmas, and I was very pleased to get it home and show it off to my husband and our friends.
The shuffler is very simple to set up and it does work well. There is a fair bit of noise, as mentioned above, but it works relatively well at shuffling cards. I would like to see a slightly better spaced out shuffle, particularly with a new deck of cards, as it can be frustrating having to run them through a few times and then having to check them, however, I was not expecting this to be a perfect purchase and I am pleased with how it works for the price that I paid.
This works very well at shuffling cards, particularly new ones, but if you have cards that are a little bent or damaged you are going to find them getting stuck or running through in little clusters which is obviously not a good thing.
I am going to rate this 4/5 as it works well, for me, for the price that I paid. I often use new cards to ensure fairness in our games and also because I like the feel of a pristine deck of cards while beating my friends at poker!