Card Dealers

Poker dealer

A poker dealer distributes cards to players and manages the action at a poker table.

Professional dealers[edit]

Any casino with a poker room must hire a staff of dealers. Casinos generally pay dealers minimum wage. However, a dealer's primary source of income is not salary, but tips from players. Tip income may be substantial for dealers who can deal hands quickly and efficiently, and are selected by the casino to deal in higher limit games. (In some countries e.g. in Sweden, where all the casinos are owned by the state, Dealers and other casino personnel may not accept tips from players. This rule is complied with strictly.)

To become employable by a casino, applicants without prior experience are typically required to complete a 4-6 week training program at a dealing school. Dealing in a casino may require working late hours and remaining seated for long periods of time. Dealers also commonly work holidays, since these are especially busy days for casinos. Having to deal with difficult individuals may be another drawback to dealing at a casino—some players are abusive to dealers.

Major poker tournaments also hire dealers. For a given tournament stop, the tournament coordinator will hire dealers on contract for the duration of the tournament, which may be a few days to a few weeks. Room and board may or may not be provided by the tournament management; the dealer is typically responsible for his own travel expenses.

Mechanics of dealing[edit]

Dealers must be proficient in shuffling the deck, distributing the cards to the players, and, if required by the game being dealt, turning up the community cards in the center of the table. There are two methods of distributing the cards, "American"-style and "European"-style.


To shuffle the cards, the dealer follows a sequence defined by the casino. First all cards are spread out on the table and pushed around randomly. This is called "scrambling" or "washing" the cards. Then the cards are collected and squared into a deck. At this point a typical shuffling sequence might be: riffle, riffle, box, riffle. Professional dealers always keep both halves of the deck very low to the table while shuffling.

American-style dealing[edit]

In American-style dealing, the deck is held in one hand, and the dealer pinches the front-right corner of the top card between the other thumb and index finger. The card is then thrown (pitched) to the player, with a wrist extending motion.

The positioning of the throwing wrist is critical, since the cards must be maintained low and level with the table surface, so that players at the table can not see the undersides of the cards.

European-style dealing[edit]

European-style dealers touch only the top of each card being dealt. The card is pushed off the top of the deck to the table surface in front of the dealer. The dealer then propels the card toward the recipient, usually imparting some spin to the card to encourage sliding.

Burning and turning[edit]

Before dealing a community card, the top card off the deck is burned, or thrown in the discard pile. The rationale for burning is that the top card on the deck is visible to players during the previous betting round, so that a cheat might be able to spot a mark on the top card and therefore gain an advantage on his opponents.

When burning, the deck must be held low and the burn card kept level with the table surface. Casinos watch carefully to make sure a dealer does not "flash", or inadvertently expose, the burn cards to players at the table.

In flop games, the three community cards comprising the flop are turned up simultaneously, never one at a time.

Responsibilities during a hand[edit]

Dealers control the action during a hand. This may include prodding players to act, verbally announcing actions of players to the rest of the table, and correcting players who act out of turn.

Dealers also must manage the pot. The dealer must verify the amount of bets and raises by players, collect folded hands, maintain side pots, and read players' hands at showdown to identify the winner or winners. In games with a rake, the dealer also must keep track of the amount of money in the pot and remove the appropriate cut for the house.

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