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Dealing Poker - My Turn in the Box
Part 1: Dealing a Poker Tournament
 More of this Feature
• Part 2: Some Mistakes
• Part 3: Second Chance
 Related Resources
• Learning Poker
• Tournament Tipping
 
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When was the last time you heard someone complaining about a poker dealer? If you spend much time in the card room you have probably heard your share of complaints. I bet that you seldom hear someone making a comment about how good a dealer is. The truth is that most dealers do a good job about 99 percent of the time. We tend to take for granted when a dealer does their job efficiently and only notice when they make a rare mistake.

I have the utmost respect for the dealers that I have met over the years. The dealers supply a valuable service to the players and like others in the Service Industry they work hard to try to please and accommodate the patrons. Unfortunately, they are usually only noticed when they make a mistake. It’s a tough and often thankless job.

I recently had a memorable experience that will forever change my outlook on the valuable service that these poker dealers supply. I learned first hand the effort and talent it takes to deal a game efficiently and correctly.

In January 2000, I set sail with Classic Poker Cruises for a week of sun, fun and poker. During my first visit to the poker room on board the Costa Atlantica, I read the signs posted with information about the tournaments that would be held during our cruise. I noticed one that announced the staff tournament that would be held at the end of the cruise. The poster stated that they were looking for players who would be interested in trying their hand at dealing the tournament during this event. I was interested and immediately went to put my name on the list.

I have often wondered what it would feel like to actually deal in a poker room setting. I thought dealing this tournament would give me a different perspective by allowing me to see the game from the other side. I also figured it couldn't be that hard. After all I've had experience dealing in all those home games I've played in over the years and I've spent hundreds of hours observing the poker dealers when I played in the card room. The day of the tournament I found out that some things look a lot easier when you are watching an experienced person do it.

I was scheduled to deal the opening round at one of the two tournament tables. I not only had eight experienced dealers sitting at my table I also had renowned tournament director Bob Thompson and Poker Digest's June Field sitting there as well watching my every move. I knew I could count on some constructive advice if I made any procedural errors.

I was told we would be starting with the brown deck and I could take it out and start shuffling it. I turned the deck face up and made an ark with the cards in front of me. I then checked to see that all the cards were there as I had seen many dealers do in the past. I then turned the cards face down and proceeded to wash them by mixing them together. As I did this I couldn't help but to think this was the way I used to shuffle the cards as a young boy before I had hands big enough to hold a deck properly. After washing the cards, I gathered them together and gave them a quick shuffle with a high bridge as I usually do in my home games. Oops, mistake number one. This was not the proper way to shuffle the deck. I was told that when I ruffle the cards together I should do this low to the table lifting the edges of the two piles ever so slightly to avoid the possibility of any of the cards being exposed. After ruffling the deck twice I was to cut it and place each pile on top of the cut card which would be used to keep the bottom card from being exposed.
 

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