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A soft count is one process for counting banknotes in a casino or bank. The soft count rooms are usually among the most secure places due to the large amounts of cash that can be on hand at any one time.
Traditionally, a count room would be operated by at least three people. The first two people independently counted stacks of currency and recorded the results on a count card. The third person examined the two count cards to ensure that the first two people recorded the same amount. If there was a difference between the amounts recorded on the two count cards, the currency would be recounted. Some smaller volume cash businesses still operate a count room in this fashion.
Typically, a soft count room contains a large table upon which the currency to be counted is placed, known as the "count table". Count room personnel manually organize the currency so that it can be easily counted by hand or by a counting machine.
Most modern count rooms are equipped with high-speed computerized machines that perform the counting process. Typically, these machines are capable of counting between ten and twenty banknotes per second. After currency is prepared on the count table, it is transferred to the machine's operator, who inserts the prepared stacks into the machine. The machine authenticates each banknote, separates the counted banknotes according to denomination, and provides a printed or electronic report of the results.
The opposite of soft count is hard count in which coins and chips are counted.