How to Deal Texas Hold'em Poker

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How to Deal Texas Hold'em Poker

Dealers are a requirement to poker as referees are to a football match. Even if you have been playing poker in a dealt game for years you might not appreciate the value of a good dealer, the reason being that most casinos and card rooms spend a lot of money in order to train their staff. A good dealer makes his job look effortless, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes and that’s what most people don’t get. It’s not about just dealing the cards and following the action. There’s in fact a vast array of responsibilities the dealer has to carry out and doing the job whilst seeming effortless is a skill that may take years to master. In this article we will review all the skills necessary in order to become a successful dealer in a Texas Hold’em Poker game.

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It’s only logical to start with the basics of the game, to people who might be unfamiliar or less experienced with Texas Hold’em. There are five basic steps that a dealer takes in order to assure that a hand runs smoothly.

  1. The Shuffle: The first thing any dealer should do before even starting to distribute cards to the players is a good shuffle of the cards. This insures that the flop, turn and river will not be predictable and this takes quite a while to master. You should learn how to “wash” the deck by spreading the cards on the table face down and randomly assorting them. You should then proceed to a thorough hand shuffle before cutting the deck and placing the block card beneath the cards. The block card is placed in order to insure that players do not obtain an unfair advantage by observing the last card of the deck.
  2. The Deal: Dealing the cards in Hold’em is rather simple, make sure that you deal the cards close enough to the table so they cannot be viewed from a low angle and you should be okay. You always deal a poker table clockwise one card at a time, starting from the small blind and ending at the button positions.
  3. Bet Collection: It is the dealer’s job to observe and announce action on the table and at the end of the round after all bets are settled, collect them and place them in the main pot.
  4. Community Cards: The dealer then proceeds to open the community cards for all to see. It is important to note that for mathematical purposes, a card is burned before the revelation of each community street. The first street called the flop contains three face-up cards whilst the second and third street, named the turn and river respectively, each contain of only one card.
  5. Awarding The Pot: At the end of all three streets, or if action dictates that the hand finished earlier it is the dealer’s responsibility to award the pot to the winner. In a showdown, all holdings are presented and compared face up, with the dealer mucking the losing hands until eventually one hand remains. The player of that hand is the awarded the pot.

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Taking Rake

Most Texas Hold’em cash games work on a rake basis, where depending on the house rules, a specific percentage of the pot is removed and raked as house profit, right before the pot is awarded to its winner. Rake for cash games usually range from 3% up to 10% and usually have a cap of around 10 to 50 big blinds. It is also useful to note that some cash games, the larger stakes in specific, use an hourly tariff instead of a rake system, which means that players are obligated to pay an hourly fee for sitting on the table. Taking the rake is in fact the most important job the dealer has on the table, as it is the only means of profit for the casino/card room. For that reason, it is important to understand that taking too much rake will leave players unhappy and probably will result in a loss of customers for the dealer’s employer whilst not taking enough rake will also leave the employers unhappy due to minimized profits.

Hands per Hour

The speed at which a dealer can run his game is of most importance to his employers and is a clear indicator of whether a dealer is worth keeping or firing. If the reason is not obvious, let me explain, more hands per hour means more rake per hour which ultimately results in not only more profits for the house but happier players, which tend to get impatient in a slow game. Of course, a dealer cannot force players to act faster, but if the game is conducted in a calm and assertive manner, with firm announcements about player’s actions, hands tend to conclude faster.


The referee in football has not only the obligation to start, direct and end the game, certain rules have to be applied throughout in order to achieve a fair game for all. The same goes for the dealers where they are the judge and jury of the table. In order to become a dealer you must familiarize yourself with a wide range of rules that direct the Texas Hold’em game. But there are two main problems with that. Firstly, each casino/card room has his own set of variations to the rules of the games, as there is no international manual for Texas Hold’em rulings. Secondly, there are many rules that are extremely bias, meaning that it is up to the dealer to observe and decide if for example someone’s cards where lifted to high, or a hand movement was forward enough to count as a call. Of course, any player is allowed to object the dealer’s decision by calling in the floor manager, which ultimately will depend on the dealers’ description of events in order to make a fair ruling.


The mannerism with which a dealer chooses to present himself on the table is very important. A dealer should always be polite and helpful towards the players and in no event should get angry or frustrated with them. A happy customer is more likely to return than an un-happy one and the house knows this. Apply your etiquette correctly and you should have no problems in being a professional Texas Hold’em dealer.

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