My favorite shuffling story
Most people have no shuffling stories. A rare few have a single shuffling story. They probably call it their "shuffling story", if I had to guess at the approach such a person would take. I don't really know for sure, because I have led a much richer life than that. I have enough shuffling stories that I actually have a favorite shuffling story, and the time has come to share it. I apologize in advance.
I was playing in a big tournament at the Wizards headquarters, and it was a little bit after Ice Age had come out, so 1996-ish. Necropotence decks were really just starting to take over the tournament scene. I was running a pretty novel deck, one based around Manabarbs, Glacial Crevasses, Stone Cauldron, Ankh of Mishra, Black Vise and whatever that card that replaced it was called, and other cards that punished you for trying to do, well, anything. Nobody expected to play in a game where trying to do accomplish anything hurt you, and just watching people's faces as they tried to cope was just a delight. It also happened to be great against Necropotence decks, which counted on maintaining full hands and churning quickly to get stuff done. If your lands are bouncing back into your hand and you can't gain off your Ivory Towers, you're screwed. The contents of my deck are irrelevant to the story, of course, but I loved that deck so much, and now you all know a little about it.
Anyway, I was doing well, 3-1 in the prelims, having stomped three Necro decks so far and lost a close match to a different deck that I can't recall. I sat down to my next match and started shuffling. Now, in those days, I was a rarity, as a tournament player who didn't sleeve his cards. Why would I? Manabarbs was a buck, who cares? Anyway, I'm there, cheerfully riffle shuffling my deck, watching my opponent do that laborious "shuffle" where you make a bunch of painstaking little piles and stack them up. Over and over. I'm finished and waiting, and he finally wraps up his little sleeve dance. He reaches for my deck and tells me he's going to exercise his right to shuffle my deck. Fine with me. I reach over to his deck and do a few quick overhand shuffles and hand it back. Meanwhile, he's got my deck and he's going through the entire thing, turning every card so they're all facing the same direction, lecturing me about proper shuffling technique. At this point, the people next to us have finished their first game, and he's still sorting my cards to face the same way. Argh. I ask him why he cares, and he says it drives him crazy to see cards facing the wrong way, and that if people are goin to play this game, they really should take the time to learn to take care of their cards properly. He finally finishes sorting, does a really fussy shuffle, and hands the deck back. I decide it's time to be a dick, look at him, and give my cards a riffle shuffle so that they're going to be 50/50 mixed the wrong way. I then re-offer him a chance to shuffle, as required by the rules. He got a panicky look in his eyes, and, shoulders slumped, merely cut after that. He knew he was beaten on that front.
For that entire match, when I drew cards, I just held them in whatever orientation I drew them, so half my cards were upside-down and half were not. I knew the deck well enough that it was no trouble to me, but he was literally shaking looking at the back of my hand. He lost the first game, and it wasn't close. My deck was singing and he was making poor decisions to boot. He declined to even sideboard, didn't bother touching my deck, and just mailed in game two in order to get away from my and my chaos. I would have felt bad about it except, man, that lecture. My sloppy, devil-may-care approach to shuffling may have won me a Magic game, which is all I could ever ask of a haphazard randomizing process.