Home Poker Tournament Dealing and Shuffling Procedures

There are two ways to go about dealing and shuffling in a home poker tournament. One is to have a dedicated dealer. Just like in a casino, this person will always deal, announce action, and generally keep things moving. The other way is to have the players deal, which is much more common in a home poker tourny.

If the players are the dealers, typically the player in the dealer's position will be the one passing out the cards. The first card is always dealt to the player in the position to the left of the dealer's button. The next is dealt to the player to that player's left and proceeds clockwise around the table. There are a lot of rules pertaining to misdeals (see Robert's Rules), but if you want to keep it simple use the following rule: If any card is accidentally exposed by the dealer, or if too many or too few cards are dealt out to any player, or any other abnormal circumstance occurs it's a misdeal.

We recommend using two decks of cards while you play. While one deck is being used, the other can be shuffled. This ends up saving a lot of time.

We also recommend that the player to the right of the dealer does the shuffling This spot would be the most difficult for a player to cheat the deck from when there are more than three players left. Even after the shuffle, another player must be given the right to cut the deck, which in a home poker game is usually the dealer.

You may want to consider using a cut card, which is essentially just a thicker plastic card which is used to cut the deck as well as protect the bottom card of the deck which is being dealt from being seen by any players.

Automatic card shufflers are garbage. They take forever to do a simple riffle shuffle and they sometimes damage cards. The efficient shufflers you see in Las Vegas that take decks below the table surface cost thousands of dollars and are heavily regulated by the state, so it's extremely unlikely that you would be allowed to purchase one without owning a casino anyhow.

Here are a few pointers as far as the actual technique of pitching cards so you don't have to go the dealer's school:

  • Keep the deck and your hands close to the table
  • Try to put a little "spin" on the card, which helps to prevent it from flipping over
  • When dealing a flop, pull out three cards simultaneously and flip them all face up at the same time
  • If you have to throw a card across a long table, it's better to throw low and hard than try and "lob" it to the other player
  • Instead of dealing to each player, deal to each stack of chips. This helps to prevent dealing out a player who stepped away from the table.
  • If you don't use a cut card, set the deck down after the initial deal
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