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Table of Contents

The importance of poker dealers
Card shuffling
Dealing like a pro
Blind position guide
Frequently Asked Questions

Some things look easy to replicate from the outside but turn out to be challenging to do or at least do well. Take golf, for instance; it seems frightfully simple, but even hitting the ball is challenging. Dealing cards is another. Everyone thinks they can deal poker like a pro until they’re given a deck of cards and have several sets of eyes staring at them and watching their every move.

This article will give you plenty of points that should help remove the fear of dealing cards and have you dealing poker like a seasoned pro in no time.

Why are poker dealers important?

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, which is true when talking about poker dealers. Visit your local casino and play in a cash game or tournament where a professional dealer is in charge of proceedings, then compare it to a poker game where you or your friends run the show.

Professional poker dealers are worth their weight in gold. They keep the game flowing, which allows you to play more hands per hour for a start. In addition, they ensure blinds and antes are paid, take care of the pot, and help make rulings. Be nice to your dealer the next time you play live poker.

The Steps to Card Shuffling

Do not expect to become a brilliant poker dealer overnight because it takes much practice to nail down this fine art. The more you practice, the better you become.

Start by washing the cards. This does not mean bringing out a cloth and some water but instead spreading all the cards face down and mixing them up to randomise them. Swirling them around looks like you are washing something! Do this for several seconds, ensuring each card touches the table at least once.

Now you gather up and scoop all the cards together. This is trickier than it looks because you’ll end up with cards facing several directions! Turn the cards away from you so you can only see their backs, and tap one edge on the table until all the cards align. You are now ready for the riffling part.

Riffling is a vital part of a professional poker deal. The riffle is where you split the deck in half and mix them together so they get mixed up. It’s pretty challenging to put the steps to a professional riffle into words, so here’s a handy video for you!

Once you have riffled the deck, you must riffle it again. Remember, you are trying to make the deck as random as possible. Now you want to do something known in dealer circles as the box. Take the top quarter of the deck and place it on the table. Take the next quarter and stack it on top of the first, and so on, until all four quarters of the deck are in a new order. Riffle the cards again before cutting the deck.

Do this by taking the top one-third or two-thirds of the deck and placing it on the table. Take the remaining cards and put them on the stack you just cut. You are now ready to deal with your shuffled, randomised cards.

Dealing like a pro

Dealing the cards to players is also known as pitching or card sailing, and there are American and European ways of doing this. The American way sees you take the face-down deck of cards in one hand, slide one of the top cards into your pitching hand, and distribute the card by flicking your wrist towards the player. The European style also does away with this flick and uses one hand to propel the top card off the deck to the player.

Either way is perfectly acceptable; deal how you feel the most comfortable.

If you are dealing Hold’em or Omaha games or any other games with community cards, you must burn a card before dealing the community cards. Take the top card from the deck and place it face down in front of you. Now deal the flop. Burn another card before dealing the turn and another before the river.

A guide to blind positioning

One of your other jobs as a poker dealer is to ensure the correct players pay the blinds and antes. You are the actual, physical dealer, but the person considered the dealer changes with each hand. Make sure you place the dealer button in front of that person. The small blind is the player to the immediate left of the dealer or button, with the big blind seated to the small blind’s immediate left. If antes or a straddle are in play, ensure each player has paid these, too.

Always deal to the left of the dealer button and continue in a clockwise direction until each player has the correct number of cards. The action then proceeds clockwise, starting with the player closest to the left of the dealer button.

What happens if your table has some empty seats? If a seat is vacant because a player has left the cash game or has busted from the tournament, it should be obvious that you do not pitch cards to this empty spot. However, if someone has taken an unscheduled break, you still deal the cards to the phantom player, but their hand is immediately mucked when the action gets around to them.

In a cash game, if someone leaves the table and misses paying the blinds, they must either pay the dead blind of the small and big blind when they return or wait until they are in the big blind again before rejoining the action.

Thankfully, the critical job of a poker dealer is taken care of by the PartyPoker software when you play poker online!

Poker Dealing – Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: Can the player on the right of the dealer refuse to cut the deck?
A: The cutting of cards by people other than the poker dealer is rare outside of home games. While the player to the dealer’s right can refuse to cut the cards, it is in their and everyone else’s interest to do so because it helps ensure you are playing with a fair deck.

Q: Why are there burn cards in poker?
A: There are burn cards before dealing the flop, turn, and river in Hold’em and Omaha games to help prevent cheating, mainly if there is a marked card. Burning cards makes manipulating the deck difficult.

Q: What is the best protocol for dealing in home poker games?
A: Most home game players selected one person to deal the game throughout. It makes sense that this person has solid poker dealing skills. Another standard protocol is for everyone to take turns in dealing, passing the deck to the player to their immediate left after each completed hand.

Ensure you follow the poker dealing tips above so everyone adheres to the same standards.

Q: Who should be the dealer in a home poker game?
A: Ideally, you want your most skilled dealer to deal the cards in your home poker game because the game progresses faster and more smoothly. However, it can be fun to give everyone a chance to deal.

Q: Can you make a living as a poker dealer?
A: You can make a living as a poker dealer. Pay rates vary globally from a minimal basic rate but plenty of tips or payments for each session or salary in some countries. Most poker dealers improve their chances of ongoing employment by learning to deal several poker variants in addition to casino table games.

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