Clump Hoax

Is “clump reading” a hoax?

The technique of “clump reading” requires the user to pay close attention to the deck as it is shuffled, in order to know which sections of the deck contain clusters (“clumps”) of high-value cards. Some people dismiss this as a hoax, others swear it works. We at are squarely on the fence.

It’s indisputable that a high concentration ten-value cards is a favorable to the player—this has been mathematically proven, and is the sole phenomenon thatmakes card counting such an effective tactic: a counter assesses whether the remaining deck contains a high concentration often-value cards remain in the deck—or, in other worse, he is determining whetherthe remaining cards are a clump of ten-value cards.

It’s also indisputable that, by virtue of the way cards are collected duringthe course of play, the discard tray will largely be divided into clumps of high-and low-value cards because breaking hands (containing mostly low-value cards) arecollected immediately, and pat hands (containing two high-value cards) are gatheredat the end of the round. So long as the dealer uses a standard shuffle consisting of a sequence of cuts and riffles (without plugging or stripping the deck), these clumps will be preserved, even amplified in places where low-value or two high-value clumps are riffled together.

The sole point of contention is whether a player is capable of rememberingthe location of the clumps in the discard tray, and then capable of perceiving the wayin which these clumps interlace when the deck is shuffled. This isn’t so much a matterof mathematics as psychology—more precisely, psychometics.

Is it possible for a person to remember how the discards are stacked? Is it possible for a person to see exactly where the cards mesh in the shuffle? These questions are not so easily answered as the other two factors in this phenomenon. To draw an analogy, it’s like the old argument over whether it’s possible for a human being to run a mile in under four minutes. Most people can’t, some athletes can.

As with the four-minute mile, it would be foolish to argue that clump reading isentirely bogus … though it may well be an impossibility for the average human beingwho is not willing to spend a great deal of time practicing to hone the visual andmental acuity.