In essence, a poker dealer is the person responsible for dealing players’ initial and community cards during a poker hand, as well as managing the jackpot and bets made during the various betting rounds on any poker card game.
This profession is called dealer, dealer or croupier. Sometimes, in the context of the most informal poker – poker games between friends, at poker clubs or at world-class events such as the World Series of Poker – the responsibility for dealing cards rests with the players themselves, so each player plays the dealer when the player occupies the position marked with a white button.
But in recent years, with the increasing importance of poker as a casino game, it has become more and more common to see how the profession of dealer or dealer of poker cards is more indispensable for the game to function quickly and smoothly. It is undoubtedly a very important element and should not be considered only one of the accessory elements of poker.
How to learn to be a dealer? Much more than dealing cards
Let’s take a closer look at the poker croupier profession itself, including topics such as how to become a professional poker croupier, how to deal with poker (focusing as an example on Texas Hold’em), as well as general tips that will allow the game to run smoothly (such as electronic poker tables or the internet).
To do this, let’s highlight a few simple points about what you need to master:
Step 1: know how to shuffle the cards of the poker deck
It is extremely important that cards are shuffled before each hand, as this makes the order much more random and prevents players from knowing where the cards are. In casinos, many poker tables alternate the decks of each hand, with one electronic or automatic deck used in the game and the other through a machine inserted into the poker table.
- Step 2: Deal the cards.
Always start with the deal by the player to the left of the poker dealer button, a Texas Hold’em dealer will deal 2 hidden cards to all the players at the table. On the internet we can orient ourselves by the names or nicknames of poker. How you deal poker cards generally depends on the dealer’s criteria (or the standard practice of the casino you work at).
An American style of dealing involves pinching the card face down and throwing it towards a player; a European style of dealing involves sliding the top card onto the table and then pushing it towards a player, often with a twist.
- Step 3: Control and manage the pot.
It is the responsibility of the poker croupier to manage everything related to the pot and the action during the betting rounds; as well as to ensure that all players make the bets and the size of the bets. (If someone says “35”, the poker croupier must make sure that the player actually bets 35 on chips and that all people who subsequently “call” match that amount with the correct denomination of poker chips.)
- Step 4: burn cards and know how to flip them.
After each betting round ends, poker croupiers must “burn” the top card of the deck (place the top card face down in the muck pile) before dealing the required number of community cards for the current street or betting round.
This action is performed in such a way that if a marked deck is being used (or if there are imperfections on certain cards in the deck), players cannot identify the cards by simply picking up any mark on the back of the deck.
- Step 5: Finish the hand in the showdown.
If a poker showdown is reached, the poker dealer must determine the highest hand. Once a hand has been won, the poker dealer must award the chips to that player accordingly by pushing the pot in his direction. In the event of a tie, a split pot is made, where the pot is divided equally among the winners. If there is an odd number of chips in the split pot, the odd chip is awarded to the player closest to the left of the Texas Hold’em button.
What a good poker dealer also needs to know
Once we have mastered the five basic fields that any aspiring croupier or dealer should need, it is a matter of gradually mastering some specific situations that, depending on the poker mode or the place where we play, will be more or less necessary.
How to control the situation: dealing with the poker table
In essence, the job of the poker dealer is to keep the players at their table aligned and to ensure that all actions taken are done properly and efficiently over time.
If someone behaves inappropriately or does not adhere to the proper game etiquette (such as repeatedly splashing the pot each time you bet or raise), the poker dealer must warn such players and/or call the floor to resolve the problem.
Controlling the pot: poker dealer function
If a player retreats out of turn, then the poker croupier must quickly break through to temporarily stop play to ensure that (1) more players behind this player do not retreat out of turn and (2) the action can continue appropriately from one player to another.
But the key is to stay “professional”… and that is that being a poker croupier can be difficult at times, as players are there to entertain and have fun, while it is the croupier’s responsibility to keep them in line and calm.
Therefore, croupiers must be quick to learn to remove control from players who have an arbitrary grudge against them or who blame them for their bad luck. They cannot take any attack personally; they must remain calm and continue their work respecting the basic rules of etiquette in poker. If there is a problem that becomes too prominent, they can discuss it with one of their supervisors, either during their current session or afterwards.
Above the dealer: tournament manager or floor
In case of doubt, the good dealer or croupier must know how to delegate the most complicated decisions to his supervisor. That superior is usually the tournament director when we talk about a poker tournament, or the floor or responsible for the poker tables when we talk about cash games.
About the professional dealer
If with all the above you want to encourage yourself to be a professional dealer, it will be a matter of going to a casino in Spain and participating in some training session. In these sessions we usually give generic subjects that will be useful for any casino game; but in the case of poker, we can also find specialized training.
As they are the face of the company they work for, poker distributors will be required to have good customer service and communication skills while doing their job. They will also have to put up with players who blame them for their bad luck and losses.
Having a good base of basic poker math skills will be useful for croupiers, as they have to frequently control the betting rounds and add up the size of the pot during the hands.
Obviously, you won’t be able to participate in any hand while you’re working. But, if you really enjoy the game, seeing the action from one hand to the other can also give you good entertainment value while you work.