Home Poker - Dealer Rules

Who will deal the game?

Most home games have the player on the button dealing the cards. Sometimes you may want to have a designated dealer for 2 reasons: 1. You don't have to worry about the dealer cheating when dealing his own hand 2. The number of misdeals will be lower because many of the cards that flip over are due to the fact that a player has to deal a card to someone all the way across the table. If you use a designated dealer then make sure the button moves because that is the only way to keep track. In a game where players deal themselves then most players remember who dealt last and therefore it is easier to remember whose turn it is.


Games that use two decks will usually use the guy to the left of the dealer to be the shuffler for the 2nd deck. This is because he will be the dealer for the next hand, so he will shuffle the cards that he will be using a minute later. The dealer for the just-finished hand will forward the unshuffled cards ahead two spots to his left.

Cutting the deck

In a self-dealt game, the dealer often offers another player the opportunity to cut the cards. If a player taps it, they are indicating that they don't need to cut them. In a game with a dedicated dealer, most people believe that it is not necessary to cut the cards.

Player absent from hand

In a formal game, a player must be at the table at the end of the showdown in order to have his hand live. In a casual game, he doesn't need to be. In a formal game, a player must be at the table to call time. This means that a player must be in his seat when the last card is dealt to the button. If he is not at the table, the dealer will kill his hand. If the dealer doesn't kill the hand, it will still be considered dead. If he is the blind, his bet will be posted and his hand dead. In a casual game, a player doesn't need to be in his seat to call time.

New Player - Posting blind

A new player entering the game has 2 options:

  • He can post the big blind he missed.
  • He can wait for the big blind to come around

Rabbit Hunting

Rabbit hunting is allowed at some laid back home games but not at formal ones.


What qualifies as a misdeal depends on the seriousness of the game. In most laid back home games, if a dealer accidentally skips a player then the dealer just gives him another card when he is done with all the other players. In formal games though people prefer to call a misdeal if any minor dealer protocol is violated. Some examples would be:

  • If a card is given to someone out of turn.
  • In stud, if any of the players' two down cards are exposed due to dealer error.
  • If the flop is shown too early.
  • If one of the player's hole cards is exposed, it is a misdeal. If any other hole card is exposed due to a dealer error, the deal continues. The exposed card may not be kept. If the dealer fails to burn a card, the card will be shown to every player and then mucked, the next card will take its place.
  • If any players were dealt out of order, this includes if the dealer starts the dealing to the wrong player.

Dead Hands

Your hand is declared dead if:

  • You make a physical or verbal fold.
  • In stud, you turn your upcards facedown.
  • A hand mucked is dead. But, if someone folded their hand due to another person's mistake and there is no question about which cards belonged to the player then the hand may be ruled to be alive.
  • A hand mixed with another players hand is ruled to be mucked.

Dead Button - Small blind busts out

If the big blind busts out then the blinds post their money as usual and the button is in the empty seat. Example:

Dead small blind - Big Blind busts out

If the big blind busts out then the current big blind post their money as usual and there is a dead small blind (no small blind). Example:

Button position

Sometimes the position of the button can get confusing - especially in short-handed play. One of the general rules you can use to help you manage the blinds is to remember that, in a tourney, a player can never miss the big blind. If there are only 3 players left, and the dealer gets eliminated, then the button is placed after putting the big blind in the right place. The next player who is due the big blind posts the big blind, and the other player gets both the button and the small blind. And the same holds true going forward - in heads-up play with two blinds, the small blind is on the button.


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Game Rules - Dealer Rules

HPG ADMIN on March 1, 2013