Sensing a Stacked Deck

Card Shuffling"Everyday I'm shuffling..."

Did you ever get the feeling that the cards were against you in a game, only to later discover that you were right?

Counting cards is outlawed in most bricks-and-mortar casinos for obvious reasons, and online games of chance are subject to strict regulation to make sure they really are random.

But scientists believe that, if you ever were to find yourself up against a stacked deck, you might simply be able to sense that the odds were not as they should be.

The supernatural-sounding conclusion is just right for the Halloween time of year, but is drawn from over 30 years of different studies carried out between 1978 and 2010.

Julia Mossbridge, lead author of the study, is a research associate at the Northwestern University Visual Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory.

She says: "We can't explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works."

But she adds that the human body, even without any apparent evidence of future events, may be able to subconsciously perceive that a deck of cards is stacked, or that the boss is about to walk into the room, between two and ten seconds before clear evidence is seen.

For those playing online games at work, for example, this could leave just long enough to shut down the window, and switch to something more professional - such as a spreadsheet.

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