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Sometimes when the table is large enough, or people don't want to reach too far, a single draw pile is split into multiple draw piles. This has always bothered me.

Does it bother anyone else? Are there any statistical reasons to not split the draw pile?

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Aside from cases where there is additional information available about the card(s) or something has manipulated the deck, it also shouldn't matter if a player draws from the bottom instead of the top of the deck. Getting hung up about this type of thing ranks up there with the idea that dealing to the players out of order will give someone else "your" cards. Random is random... –  Malachi May 20 '11 at 21:19
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5 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Hypothetically, there's nothing wrong with splitting the draw pile. Splitting a randomized deck into multiple decks, won't affect the randomization. However, you need to carefully consider how you interact with the draw pile during the course of the game.

  • Do cards ever get put back on top of, into, or under the draw pile? If so, having multiple draw piles would affect the game. For example, if players can put a card on top of the draw pile, can I choose to draw from either pile?
  • What happens when the draw pile runs out? If the normal rule is to shuffle the discard pile to create a new draw pile, you probably need to wait until all draw piles run out before doing so.
  • If you have multiple draw piles, will you also have multiple discard piles? If so, you need to consider how you interact with the discard pile, also.
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Also, when we did this with a mixed older base set and newer expansion set in Race for the Galaxy, some players would opt to take the fresh card from either deck, which is obviously cheating. –  rrenaud May 20 '11 at 19:55
    
@rob-renaud, when you say "fresh card", you mean a card that is obviously from the expansion because it is less worn/broken in? –  Malachi May 20 '11 at 21:16
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Cards are randomized through shuffling not through picking the draw pile. Statistically you should have the exactly same chances of drawing any particular card from either pile.

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When the table is inconveniently large and we are playing a game with a thick pack of cards, we sometimes spread the draw pile out into a large fan. That way, everyone can reach conveniently and anyone who suspects they may be disadvantaged can draw from any part of the pack. Myself, I can't see it makes any difference, but those who have some doubts can pick from anywhere and therefore have no grounds for suspicion.

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The problem with that plan is that if (say) the ace of spades is dog-eared then anyone who knows that fact can choose to pick it (or avoid it), whereas in a 'normal' game the card goes to the person whose turn it is: this has to affect the game. –  TimLymington Aug 7 '11 at 16:36
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We do that with some games (including tiles in Carcassonne), but you have to allow people to pull from either pile they want, and don't reshuffle until both piles have been depleted.

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While I obviously agree when you say that all stacks/decks must be depleted before reshuffling, granting that each player may draw from either stack/deck is fair, polite, but not actually needed. –  Erik Burigo Mar 8 '12 at 12:58
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While splitting the deck is statistically irrelevant, as others have said, it does affect those games in which you might have such options as "check the first X cards in the deck and put them as they were" (say, to simulate precognitions), "check the first X cards and reorder them as you wish" etc.

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