Playing poker games in casinos or card rooms, you may be accustomed to the game being dealt by professionals who make it seem extremely easy. The truth is that dealing Texas Hold’em poker is not easy at all and that it requires a broad skill set, a lot of patience and focus, and a great deal of attention to detail.
Nothing is more frustrating for the players than the dealer making a key mistake in a big spot, which can change the course of a hand or create chaos at the table.
Whether you play in home games where players often have to deal the cards or are looking at a career as a poker dealer, it is useful to learn how to deal Texas Hold’em if you often find yourself in card rooms.
Before the players arrive and you are asked to start dealing the cards, there are a few things that a dealer should take care of in cooperation with the people running the game.
The first, of course, is to ensure you have an undamaged deck of cards. Ideally, you would want to use a brand-new deck and only unpack it once the players are ready to play.
If you are dealing a home game, you may also use a used deck of cards, but in this case, you should take care that none of the cards are marked in any way, whether on purpose or simply due to being used too many times.
Once you have the cards ready, you will also want to prepare the chips for the players, the dealer button, and all the other necessities for the game. Of course, other people may take care of this if you work in a casino or card room, but in home games, the dealer is often responsible for all these details.
Once you have everything ready, players can take their seats, and the game can officially start, with the dealer taking the commanding role.
Once the players have taken their seats, they must not start dealing cards randomly. The first thing you want to do is make sure everyone is cool with the deck being used.
Ideally, you will want to spread the brand new deck for the players, show the cards from both sides, and ensure that all 52 cards are accounted for.
Once the deck has been presented, it is time to shuffle it up well, and the best way to do this is by spreading the cards across the table and shuffling them up at random, as you have seen professional dealers do countless times.
Once this part of the shuffle is done, riffle the cards three times, then cut the deck once to ensure there is no room for doubt that the deck is completely random.
Once this is all done, you can proceed to deal one card to each player, starting from seat one. The player with the highest card will receive the dealer button to start the game. The ace of spades is the highest card in the deck, followed by hearts, diamonds, and clubs.
Now that the dealer button is assigned, you will ask the two players sitting to the left of the button to post the small blind and the big blind.
Having shuffled the deck the same way you did earlier, you can start dealing the cards. The first card goes to the players in the small blind, while the last card goes to the dealer. You will go in a circle and deal two cards to each player, face down.
Once every player at the table has two cards, the action can start. Players will act on their hands, starting from the UTG player who is left of the big blind.
Each player can call, raise, or fold their cards. Since you are playing No Limit Texas Hold’em, players can raise any amount up to the size of their stack.
This is where dealing Texas Hold’em becomes more difficult than just dealing cards. You will need to pay attention to player actions and make sure to announce each one of them clearly.
Players will throw their cards in your direction to indicate a fold, put in a single chip to indicate a call, or make raise either verbally or by throwing in their chips.
In case of a raise, you will need to make sure you understand how much the raise is for, double-check if unsure, and verbally announce the raise for everyone at the table to hear.
The action will go around the table clockwise, with each new raise re-opening action for all the players who have already acted, except those who have folded.
In case a player moves all-in, it is your duty to count the player’s stack and verbally announce the size of the all-in that players will need to call if they want to keep playing.
On the other hand, it is not your duty to count a player’s stack in case another player asks them how much they have, but rather only to ask the player to show their chips clearly, with big chips sitting in front of the smaller chips.
Once all players have acted on their hand pre-flop, and all the raises are called, it is time to deal the flop and proceed to the next betting round.
The next step in the hand of Texas Hold’em is the flop. Once all preflop action is completed, you will deal the flop by discarding the top card from the deck face down, known as “burning the card,” and then dealing the top three cards across the table face up.
These three cards are called the flop and are the first of the five community cards you will deal. Once you have dealt out the flop, you will wait for the players' actions.
The player in the small blind is the first to act after the flop. If this player folded pre-flop, the next active player to the left of the small blind acts first. The dealer button always acts last on the flop and all further rounds.
Just like you did preflop, you should make sure to carefully monitor player actions and announce them verbally to all the players at the table.
Unlike preflop, the “check” action now comes into play. Checking means passing the action to the next active player without making any bets.
Players sometimes announce a check by saying check, but they often simply tap the table in various ways. These non-verbal cues are something you will pick up as you deal or play poker often.
Ensure you go around the table without skipping anyone and that everyone has acted on their hand before you do anything else.
Once every player at the table has acted, and you have determined the action is complete, you can proceed to deal the turn card.
Once all flop action is complete, it is time to deal the turn card. You will burn the top card from the deck and then deal a single card face-up next to the flop.
This card is called the turn, and it is the fourth of the five community cards. With four cards across the table, you will wait for player actions again.
The order in which actions are performed does not change from the flop. The small blind, or the closest player to the small blind, will act first, with action continuing clockwise.
Players will have all the same actions as they did on the flop. Once all action is completed, you will burn one last card and deal the last community card in the middle of the table.
The final community card, called the river, completes the board. At this point, players will have one last chance to act on their hands before having to show them.
If more than one player is left in the hand after river action, you will announce a showdown, and players will need to reveal their cards for the hand to be completed.
Now that all the action is completed, all that’s left is for the remaining players to show their cards and determine the winner.
Of course, if a player made a bet on the river and all other players folded their cards, you will simply pass the pot to the only remaining player without any need to reveal the cards.
If more than one player is still active, they will show their cards in a given order, which depends on river action. If no one bet on the river, the first still active player to the dealer's left revel his holdings. On the other hand, if someone bet in the last round, the player who made the last aggressive action shows his cards first.
Once the cards are revealed, it is your duty as the dealer to compare them and determine which hand is the winner, even if players get it wrong.
At showdown, make sure to be extra focused and don’t listen to anything anyone is saying. Simply look at the exposed cards and decide which hand is best based on Texas Hold’em hand rankings.
While players can sometimes be mistaken about their hand strength or even lie about it, you should ensure that the strongest hand gets the pot.
In case more than one player has a hand of the same value, players will split the pot. You will need to count the pot, chop it in equal parts, and award each player with their portion of the pot.
When the pot has been assigned, and the hand is over, you will collect all the cards from the table, move the dealer button by one position to the left, and shuffle up the cards for the next deal.
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