How to Deal in Texas Holdem

Though much of this page sounds like a how to play Texas
holdem page, it goes beyond this. You’re getting ready to learn
how to deal a Texas holdem game and how to run the game as well.

If you want to be a competent holdem dealer you need to know
how to run a game in addition to how to deal the cards. Most
players know how to deal cards, but they often don’t understand
what it takes to be a competent dealer.

Most poker dealers make a small hourly wage and make most of
their income based on tips. Good dealers run a game with little
or no mistakes and understand that the more hands they can deal
per hour the more they stand to make in tips.

Before Each Deal

Before each hand is dealt you need to prepare for the hand.
If you’re opening a new table you need to determine which player
gets to start on the button. The button is the player who acts
in the dealer position, or last on each betting round after the
first one.

The dealer or button position is designated by a white disk
that says dealer on it. As the actual dealer you need to make
sure the dealer button is moved one place to the left after each
deal. The two blinds also move to the left one place after each
hand and you need to make sure the players place the correct
amount out for each of the blinds.

The blind levels are set by the house and the small blind is
usually half the big blind. In a limit Texas holdem game the big
blind is the same amount as the lower betting limit and the
small blind is half the big blind.

Please Note

You’ll often need to make change for players in
the blinds. If the big blind is $10 and the player in that
position puts out a $25 chip you take the $25 chip, give the
player $15 and place the $10 blind in front of the player.

To determine which player is awarded the button when opening
a new table you shuffle a deck of cards and deal one card face
up to each player starting with the player to your immediate
left. The player who gets the highest card is awarded the dealer
button. If two or more players tie for the highest card the
first one to your left who tied is the dealer.

You need to make sure no one has cards remaining from the
last hand and you need to either hand shuffle the cards or place
the deck in an automatic shuffler and retrieve a freshly
shuffled deck from the machine.

Occasionally the player to the immediate left of the big
blind places a bet of twice the big blind and announces it as a
straddle. This acts as a type of third blind and isn’t legal in
all card rooms.

Before the deal is the time you can make change for players
and welcome new players to the game. Depending on the house
rules, a new player is given the choice to wait until their big
blind or post an amount equal to the big blind and get dealt
into the current hand. A few poker rooms let you start playing
immediately without posting a bet.

The Cards

Once you have all of the housekeeping things taken care of
you move to the part of each hand where you deal the cards. It’s
important to protect the cards in a way where players can’t see
any of the card values when you shuffle or deal. It’s easy to
get sloppy and start lofting the cards as you deal them.

When you loft the cards players can often see some of the
values. This potentially gives them an advantage, which is why
you must try to avoid it.

You also need to watch flashing the value of the bottom card.
Many poker rooms use a cut card to cover the bottom card of the

Before the Flop

Each hand starts with dealing a single card face down to the
player in the small blind. If the player supposed to be in the
small blind has left you deal the first card to the first active
player to the left of the button. You then continue dealing one
card face down to each active player to the left. This continues
until each player has received two face down cards.

Example of a Pre Flop Hand in Texas Holdem

Once all of the cards have been dealt the first player to the
left of the big blind is the first to act. You may point to this
player if it doesn’t look like they’re paying attention. You can
also say the action is on you as you point.

As players make decisions you have to pay attention to make
sure the bets and pot are correct at all times and always know
the current bet.

In the first betting round the players call the big blind,
fold, or raise. Betting action continues to the left until
everyone has called the last highest bet. In an un-raised pot
the action ends with the big blind. As players fold they’re
supposed to slide their cards face down to you and you put them
in a pile called the muck. It’s important to protect these cards
like the deck you’re dealing from so no one can see the value of

The Flop

Once all of the betting action has been completed before the
flop you deal the flop. The top card on the deck goes into the
muck. The muck is the name used for the discard pile. This is
called a burn card.

Then you take the next three cards and place them face up in
the center of the table. This is called the flop and they’re the
first three of five total community cards.

Example of a Post Flop Hand in Texas Holdem

The first remaining player to the left of the button is the
first to act on the flop. They can check or bet. Play continues
to the left. If there’s been a bet the next player can fold,
call, or raise. Play continues until all of the remaining
players have called the last highest raise. When no one bets,
each player may check. If all players check, play continues to
the turn.

The Turn

After the flop you burn another card and turn one card face
up beside the flop. This is the fourth of five community cards.

Example of the Turn in Texas Holdem

The betting is conducted the same as after the flop except in
a limit game the bets on the turn and river are at the higher

After all of the betting has been completed on the turn you
move on to the river.

The River

A final card is burnt and the final community card is placed
face up beside the other four cards.

Example of the River in Texas Holdem

The betting round is conducted the same as the turn.

After all of the betting has been completed the remaining
players turn over their cards to see who wins the hand. If a bet
and call was made, the person who was called is the first to
show their hand. Then hands are revealed to the left until
everyone has folded or shown their hand.

In most poker rooms a player doesn’t have to show her hand if
she will lose. Instead of turning over her cards after seeing
her opponent’s hand she can simply throw her cards in face down,
surrendering her hand. The house rules cover this possibility,
but this is the normal way to handle it.

Don’t ever look at cards thrown in from a player. Simply put
them in the muck and continue with the hand. Unless it’s covered
in the house rules, other players may not see the discards


You must protect the deck you’re dealing from and
the discards at all times. No players may ever be allowed to
touch any of the cards except their two hole cards.

If the river has no betting action the first player to the
left of the button remaining in the hand is the first to turn
her cards face up. Play continues the left.

Once the players show their cards you must look at each hand
and determine the winner. Never take a player’s word for the
strength of their hand. Players make mistakes all of the time
and if you try to award the pot to the wrong player it can get
ugly quickly.


You’ll also find some players who lie about what
they hold to try to get their opponent to fold. You have to make
sure this doesn’t happen.

As you determine the winning hand slide the community cards
forward that are used with the winning player’s hole cards to
form the winning hand so all of the players can clearly see
which cards are used to form the hand. You should also announce
the winning hand. This gives the other players the chance to ask
for an explanation or point out a possible error.

At the End of the Hand

After the showdown at the end of the hand you give the money
in the pot to the player who won. At some point in the hand you
need to collect the rake from the pot if you’re dealing in a
room that takes rake.

Most Texas holdem dealers collect the rake as money is being
put into the pot, but you may be able to do it toward the end of
the hand. Each poker room has their own house rules concerning
rake so your method depends somewhat on these rules.

Here’s an example:

The poker room where you’re dealing has a policy that they
rake each hand 10% up to a maximum of $5 and if there’s no flop
there’s no rake collected. To simplify your rake collection in
this case you don’t worry about it until after the flop. Once
you deal the flop and all betting has been completed on the flop
make a quick mental calculation and take roughly 10% from the
pot and place it beside the rake drop box.

Don’t drop the rake in the box yet unless the pot has reached
at least $50. If the pot is at least $50 it’s simple. Just take
$5 and drop it in the rake box and you’re finished with the rake
for the hand.

If the pot is lower than $50 you have a few dollars in rake.
You may need to make change in the pot to be able to do this. If
the pot has $20 in it, put five $1 chips in for a $5 chip, then
take $2 out for the rake.

When $20 more goes into the pot on the turn take $2 more out
and place it with the first $2 you took for the rake. When the
pot finally moves past the $50 mark put the $4 you’ve collected
back into the pot and take out a $5 chip and drop it for the


The poker room makes money from collecting rake. If
you forget to collect the rake or collect less than you’re
supposed to the players will be happy, but you’ll soon be out of
a job. Don’t ever forget to collect the rake and do it in a
manner that doesn’t interfere with the flow of the game.

You have to be able to juggle multiple things while dealing
Texas holdem without making any mistakes, but with a little
practice you can quickly become a pro.

Most players won’t surrender their cards until you give them
the pot when they win. This is fine, but you have to remember to
collect the cards after giving them the pot.

The Players

Without players you wouldn’t have a job as a dealer. Of
course you wouldn’t have the constant headaches that players
create either, so some days your choice of the two things may be
a tossup.

The majority of Texas holdem players are polite and fairly
easy to deal with, but a few bad apples can threaten an entire
game. You’ll find players who’re rude, mean, abusive, try to
cheat, drunk, and obnoxious.

The sooner you’re able to learn how to deal with each type of
player the better. And while you’re learning how to deal with
problem players you have to remember that the majority of your
income comes from players giving you money.

This doesn’t mean you should go soft on trouble players in
hopes they give you tips. Some players will tip you more when
you handle other problem players quickly and effectively. Most
players want a quiet straightforward game without a bunch of

It’s difficult to know exactly how to handle all of the
possible situations that arise at the tables because you never
know what to expect. But once you start handling things in a
professional manner you’ll start getting a reputation with
players. Do everything you can to make this a good reputation.
If the players like you and feel you run a good game you’ll earn
more in tips.

Do you get join players bickering at the table? It depends on the situation.

Some poker players enjoy stirring the pot and try to make
other players mad or upset to throw them off their game. Most of
the time you need to ignore this and keep the game moving. But
sometimes players cross the line. You need to quickly and
decisively handle every situation that crosses the line.

Racial slurs and threats are two that demand immediate
attention. Give a stern warning based on the policy of the room
where you’re dealing and if the players refuse to do what
they’re told get the floor personnel and / or security involved.

Top Tip

Your best tactic when dealing with players is to
remain calm and never react to anything they say or do. If
they’re abusive to you the best policy is to continue dealing in
the best manner possible.

You never win when you react to a player abusing you. But
when you take it with a smile, most of the time other players
will come to your aid as long as you’re doing a good job. Even
if no other players speak up, many will slip you an extra dollar
or two on their next tip.

It can be hard to deal with problem players, but they don’t
have to make your dealing experience negative unless you let

Some players never tip and there’s nothing that says they
have to. While many dealers take this personally, you have to
view these players as the cost of doing business. You need
enough players to run a game and even if a couple of the players
don’t tip they still help you earn from the other players.

Focus on providing the best possible gaming experience for
the players at the fastest possible pace without making mistakes
and you should be able to earn a decent amount of tips.

If you catch players cheating you need to get the floor
involved immediately. But if you only suspect a player or
players of cheating you need to keep your mouth shut and keep
the game moving. You can let the floor know your suspicions
between shifts at the table but don’t stop the game unless you
have proof or are 100% sure. Most cheats will deny it no matter
what so you must be prepared to defend any accusation you make.


Dealing Texas holdem can be a rewarding occupation. The key
is being able to juggle the different responsibilities while
keeping the game running quickly and smoothly. No one’s perfect,
but as you gain experience and practice your skills you should
be able to build a good reputation with the regular players,
which leads to more tips.