The 42 Steps used when dealing a hand of poker

I was recently asked about what are the 42 steps I was referring to and this post should answer that question.

Special thanks to “Dealer Training” for allowing me to reprint the entire lesson in return for my giving credit and sharing an ad and link to their site.  I still use many of their practice exercises before going to work.


Chapter 6


Lesson 1 – 42 Step Dealing Process

Dealing Hold Em is in essence a process – a series of steps woven together to seamlessly execute an entire hand of poker. This chapter outlines the 42 step dealing process from the start of one hand to the start of the next. Each hand you deal will follow this process.

We begin the hand as if you have just awarded the pot to a player and are starting the next hand. This hand will document the entire process. Remember that some steps may not be applicable every hand.


1. Scramble – during the scramble request blinds to be posted. Confirm the button is in proper position.

2. Square the deck

3. Riffle the deck

4. Riffle the deck

5. Box the deck

6. Riffle the deck

7. Cut the deck


8. Pickup the deck – place it in your left hand in the underhand dealers grip.

9. Tighten the deck

10 . Pitch the cards – start with the small blind and work your way around the table in a clockwise fashion. Continue dealing until each player has two cards. The button receives the last card – except in cases of misdeals or if a card is accidentally exposed.

11. Commence and complete the first round of betting – action starts to the left of the button and moves aroud the table clockwise. Allow the first player a few moments then give a slight nod in their direction letting them know ‘it’s your turn’. If the player still does not respond politely say to them “your action”.

12. The players’ actions will determine your action – a player will take different actions depending on the situation. As one player announces their action it continues to around the table until each player has announced their intentions. During all rounds of betting players will check, bet, raise or fold and you will collect mucked cards, create the muck, announce the action, collect bets, create the pot, create side pots, count bets, cut chips and calculate the rake.

13. Follow the action around the table – everyone should act in turn. Do not forget the blinds on the first round of betting.

14. Announce the number of players still in the hand

15. Tap the table – tap, tap

16. Burn a card

17. Spread the flop

18. Commence and complete the second round of betting

19. Announce the number of players still in the hand

20. Tap the table – tap, tap

21. Burn a card

22. Deal the turn

23. Commence and complete the third round of betting

24. Announce the number of players still in the hand

25. Tap the table – tap, tap

26. Burn a card

27. Deal the river

28. Remove the cut card

28. Place the remaining deck face down in a small fan on top of the muck

29. Commence and complete the fourth and final round of betting


30. Request winning hands to be shown – players are responsible for flipping their own cards face up. Typically a player will take the lead and flip their cards over first. Other players will then either fold or flip their cards up. Send folded hands to the muck immedieatly.

31. Read the board

32. Announce the current winning hand

33. Push the board cards forward to display the winner

34. Muck the losing hand

35. Compare any other live hands one at a time – move the board cards to display the new winning hand. Muck any additional losing hands.

36. Push the pot

37. Flip the winning hand and the board cards face down

38. Move the button

39. Request blinds be posted

40. Drop the rake

41. Collect your tips

42. Thank the player

Repeat the process.

On track – and plan to stay that way!

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My poker playing results have been more consistent the last two months but I won’t get too excited until I have finished the year. Even then, it might take two or more years before I can tell if I am in the “most improved player” category.

I can attribute my current success to the training that I have received from attending the WPT BootCamp for cash game players.

It was there that the likes of Lee ChildsRick FullerNick Brancato, and Eric ‘Rizen’ Lynch showed me the errors of my ways.

Without getting into specifics (you might use these tips against me), I can tell you that all aspects of my game has changed for the following:

Hand selection
Pre-flop strategy
Post-flop strategy
Turn strategy
River strategy

Even when to enter a table and when to leave has changed for me as well – the result of my new training.

August cash game results had me finishing in the black: $58.
September, I am currently standing at a profit of $106.
Year to date, however, has me in the red for $-135.

Still I am not counting my chickens before the eggs hatch. I have long ways to go before I am truly profitable.  Stayed tuned as my excitement builds.

How are you doing?  Are you results showing improvements? How do you track your success?

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Player Types – How do you identify them?

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When ever I play online at either the cash games, tourneys or Sit N Go’s, I try to take the time to identify the player types that are at the table. But up till now, I really did not have a way to classify them so I could tell their tendencies.  I would note if they were aggressive or always entering a pot with a pot sized raise.  If the pot size raiser was on the button or cutoff position, meaning they were just before the small blind, I would put a notation that said “blind stealer?”.  This same description would be placed in the notes of a player that almost always raised UTG or in early position and later showed down a poor starting hand.

The problem with my notes is that they lacked definition. That is, until I read a chapter in the book,  The Poker Tournament Formula by Arnold Snyder that dealt with classifying certain players.  In Chapter 8, he listed the player type names that he uses and it made sense to me after reading the explanation of each one.  The following are a few examples of player types that Snyder describes:

Ace Master
Flush Master
Pair Masters
Cagey Codgers
Show N Tellers

He had a few others but these are types that I have seen and can use these titles for them. The “Ace Master” who plays a Ace with any other card regardless of its value. The “Flush Master” who comes raising a pot with K 3 suited. Another one I might add is the “All in’er”, a short stacked player who goes all in with Ace any, AK, any pair or two suited connectors. If the “all in’er” hits or misses, he disappears from the table with his prize or whit nothing. He does not hang around to be criticized for playing the way that he does.

It has helped my cash game to record their actions in the notes and then play accordingly. Has taking notes helped your game?

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Twitter and poker – they do mix

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Yesterday I shared some of the blogs that I read. After doing so, I got some responses and tweets about it. It made me realize that I have quite a few poker friends and poker pros that I follow on Twitter. I follow about 380 twitterers and I am followed by as least as much.

Recently, when I mentioned that I wanted to find a way to cover up my cards when I play online poker, I got back at least 8 responses. Some were suggestions of how I could accomplish that. Thank you.  Two were supportive of the concept and one even supplied me with a poker article about a poker player who played against 180 and won the tournament without once ever looking at her cards. One of the respondents was genuinely concerned that I might be giving up an edge to my opponent if I tried that out.

For those of you who don’t know about twitter, let’s just say that it is a method of communications on the Internet. Twitter  allows you to express yourself in a message of 140 characters or less.  The messages are called “tweets”.  The persons sending messages are called “twitterers”. Go to Mashable.Com to see a whole list of twitter terms.

If you don’t have an account, that’s ok. Go to Just use their search box and type in #poker or #tpt or even stevebrogan.  There you will see the information that people are typing; their conversations.  Caution: People are allowed to say anything they want, so cover your ears if bad words might offend you.

If you don’t use twitter, you might be missing out on a new experience. Start slowing. Follow people and organizations that interest you. Participate and enjoy.

Do you use twitter to enhance your poker experience? Do you follow the pros as well as the amateurs?

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Switching Gears!

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Today’s post is a bit off topic as I share with you some of the blogs that I like to read and that I think have value. I use Google Reader and subscribe to about 50 poker related blogs. Using Google Reader allows me to preview the current postings and then choose the ones I want to read in detail.

One of the blogs I read is the “Poker Bankroll Blog”, which uses guest writers. There is usually something there that I find educational or at least very entertaining.

This week I read Swyyft’s posterous blog and was entertained by the story he shared concerning the chat during a session with a high stakes online poker player.

The Mystical Jett is another blog site that contains very interesting and thoughtful posts and reviews.  Jett’s twitter account is @mysticaljett. I play poker online from time to time with him.

Paul Ellis writes on Pablos Place where he brings a lot of passion about poker, putting a “Bad Beat on Cancer”.  On twitter he is known as @coolwhipflea. We also run into each other on the online felt.

Bill Rini, a professional poker player is currently living in Thailand and always has something interesting, and very often, important to say about the state of online poker around the world at Bill’s Poker Blog.   Just visiting to see what pictures he has posted there is an adventure.  Follow Bill on twitter, @billrini.

Goeff Manning, aka @cprpoker on Twitter, has at least three great blogs. Complete Poker Rules contains recent stories regarding poker as well as sections about the rules of various poker games.  The Twitter Poker Tour site is both a forum and a resource for those of us who play on the #TPT tourneys. You will find the leader board, schedules and lots lots more. His latest site, Worth Cause Poker is dedicated to getting out information about fund raising poker events for charity. If you know of any local or national events, please let him know so that he can include it in his blog.

These are just a few of the many blogs that I check daily. Do you have any favorite blogs that you go for poker news or entertainment? Do you have some that you would recommend to me or others?

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A guest post – from comments made by Jack – updated 5/20/09

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This post has been updated with additional comments from Jack – See below:

On May 13th, I wrote a post titled, “How not to play pocket Aces and why do I hear chips clinking when I am not in a hand?” which was about how I played, or rather, misplayed a pair of pocket Aces.

Today I received a comment that was terrific and to the point and so well written that I wanted to share these comments with you.

The comments were written by Jack, a friend of Paul Ellis aka @CoolWhipFlea, whose blog, Pablos Place, is one I read often and is on my blogroll

Here are Jack’s comments, Thank you Jack.


I think maybe the problem with this hand was the min raise preflop. You’re pretty much giving the BB the easiest call of his life at the start of a SnG when the blinds are small. Even with the call I think you could have escaped the hand (hypothetically…). Consider that the pot when the flop came was only 135 chips (60+60+15SB)…. then the villain shoved in 345 chips, a suspiciously large overbet. I think maybe you could have folded there because the pot size, bet size ratio was so off and suspicious.

Basically though, the small raise preflop against the big blind ruins any reads you can have post flop because realistically he can call the additional 30 chips with almost any two cards. Because his range is so wide he could have just as easily had AQ, KQ, KK, TT, JJ, A8 (all hands that hit the flop well, but you beat with AA) and your call could have been correct on the flop. But again, you have no idea because your raise was so small.

I think the most straight forward way to play your hand would be a 3-4XBB raise when it was folded to you, so instead of a raise to 60, a raise to 90 or 120. Why?

1) Because if you get callers, you’re getting more value out of your hand (bigger pot size). 3-4xBB is small enough that people will still call you with worse hands, but large enough that it allows you to begin building a big pot that you can win (as opposed to a small pot.)

2) You narrow their range. On a 68Q board after a standard (really 3-4BB is pretty bread and butter online) raise the only logical hands that will have you beat on the flop are 66, 88, and QQ. The only 2pair you’ll be seeing is MAYBE Q8s or something but in most cases you can eliminate 2 pairs completely because Q6 is so weak and Q8s is really a bad call preflop IMO. He would be forced to fold his 68o and the suckout would have never occurred. If he is a bad player he still might have called, but you can rest easy knowing you got your money in good and you played the hand correctly.

Consider the fact that QQ would likely 3bet you preflop and you can narrow his range even further by thinking “Ok, if he had QQ he would have likely reraised me preflop, and since he didn’t chances are he doesn’t have QQ.”
Anyways, compare the two ways you could have played the hand and I think it becomes obvious which one is better.

If you raise what you did (min raise) then the hand goes.

You: raise to 60
Villain: “Ok, 68 isn’t a great hand, but if I hit the flop, I’ll probably stack him if he has a good hand. If I don’t, it’s an easy fold and I still have a ton of chips. Because it’s only 30 more into a 95 chip pot, I’ll call”
Villain: “Wow 2 pair! I probably won’t make much money on this hand because the pot is small, but if he has a good overpair, I bet I can overbet the pot and get called light, maybe even reraised! I’ll raise to 345 and pray for a call”
You: ??? Well I guess I have to hope he doesn’t have QQ, All in.
Villain gets paid

The same hand if you raised to 4XBB
You: raise to 120
Villain: 68o? I have to call 90 more chips into a 165 chip pot? That’s a big chunk of my stack.. if the flop doesn’t hit, and it probably won’t, then I’m just throwing away chips by calling. I guess I’ll have to fold.
Villain folds

OR (unlikely)

You: Raise to 120
Villain: I am a fish. 86o is such a good hand. Call
Flop: 86Q
Villain: Yay my fish call worked! Bet 345
You: Well his range of hands that beat me is pretty much 88,66, maybe if he’s loose Q8s. But wouldn’t he try and slowplay a set like most people do at these stakes? KK, QQ, and maybe JJ would have probably reraised me preflop. I beat AQ, KQ, QTs, JQ, 87s…. all hands that he could easily have. Hmm… and it’s an overbet to the pot…. maybe this guy is just a fish with random cards?

And then you make whatever decision you want based off that. Personally, if I was in your spot after raising 4xBB and he called, I would probably stack off with AA after his 345 raise. There are so many hands you beat in his calling range, that 9 out of 10 times you’ll be making the correct choice. Which means that over time you’ll be making the +EV choice. Add to the fact that I think he folds 68o almost all the time to a 4xBB raise, the fact that he will hit a flop like that (one that beats you) less that 17% of the time, and you can stack off with AA almost everytime on that kind of board and your profit level will fly up.

You won’t have to blame the hand on yourself or feel bad about it. It’s just a fish getting lucky, and you’re ready to go to the next SnG.

This is just my analysis of the hand, but I think many other players would agree with the logic. I think minraising is never good preflop (unless you are trying to induce some kind of tilt shove from your opponent) and you should focus on making 3-4xBB your standard raise everytime. It’s big enough to allow you to build a pot and fold out the crappiest hands, but small enough that you can get away from the hand if put into a marginal spot.

I am Paul’s friend Jack by the way. I was just bored and reading your blog (which I found through his blog) and thought this post was interesting enough to post a big essay of my thoughts. Hahah. Good to meet you and I hope something I said was useful or interesting. GL at the tables —-

Jack made additional comments which somehow did not show up – I have added them here.

To extend my specific advice about this hand to a more general poker theory, so you can apply it in other places, is this.

The hand was hard to play because you were too cautious. By not wanting to get into a bad situation preflop, you put yourself into an awful awful situation post flop (I am basing this off your previous blog about letting go of aces preflop in some tournaments.) Often when playing poker, being selectively aggressive will make choices on later streets much more clean cut.

Suckouts happen, but if you are playing with a proper bankroll and solid overall play they shouldn’t matter. You’re aggressive play will profit on the long run, with patience and proper discretion. Aggression will always help you narrow ranges and make good choices. I feel like playing more passively just puts poker players into such marginal spots…

I know this is just my opinion, but the more concepts you have in your head while playing, the better your going to play. Even if you don’t want to follow my advice, I think it’s good to consider when playing a hand.

ALSO, I know you probably don’t play shorthanded, but when you are thinking about the game, watch this video.…

Honestly, I think it’s going to help your decision making and help you understand other people’s decision making in the future. That page has 5 training videos that help out quite a bit imo. Even if you don’t like them, they are interesting to think about. GL! Sorry for leaving two comments, I just really needed to comment fully on the topic.


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Finished 8th in the PokerHost Stimulus 2.5K event Sunday evening playing No Limit Texas Hold Em

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I have been playing a lot of Texas No Limit Hold Em as a result of the “race to 250” lately, so it was fun to switch gears and play in a higher paying tournament.  (See my  post, “Update on the race to $250 and other thoughts” for more details on the race.)

The PokerHost Stimulus 2.5K event was an exciting event for me. The chance to win a top prize of $650.00 for first place was a heady prospect.

I  received a free ticket to the event as the result of adding an additional $25.00 to my existing account with PokerHost. I learned about the event from a “tweet” by @TeamPokerHost. The odds were good due to the fact that only 97 had entered the event and that the top 15 players were going to be paid. That meant that 16% of the players would win.

This was a tight and gruelling event. I came up against some very good players as well as about a dozen or so players that were “sitting out” the entire tourney for whatever reason. It would be interesting to know why, but the good part for me was that I played well enough to finish in 8th place.

In fact my last hand was an all-in bid to move up a couple of places on the ladder. I had the best hand both pre-flop and flop but lost on the turn and river to the then chip leader who caught runner runner for two-+ pair.

My entry fee was valued at $16.00 and I won $85.00 for 8th place, giving me an effective rate of $21.00 per hour, which I would take every time.

Have you ever had a chance to cash in at a tourney where the entry fee was reasonable? Did the way you played give you a chance to win? Did you take risks at the right time? Did you know when to back down and not jeopardize your tourney life because you were too stubborn about thinking you had the best hand, when it fact you did not?

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Defending and stealing blinds

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As I mentioned in previous  posts, I have won a one month training subscription to which includes the unlimited use of their videos and reading materials. I have been watching training videos about how to improve my game of Texas Limit Hold “Em poker.

Episode three was about the importance of the blinds, the forced bets that players are required to make in Hold ‘Em. Typically the small blind bets 1/2 of a small bet and the big blind bets one small bet prior to being dealt cards. In a .50/1.00 table, the small bet is .50 cents and the large bet is 1.00. The small bet is used in pre-flop and after the flop betting. The limit is raised to the large bet size of $1.00 for bets made on the turn and the river.

As a poker player, who is in either the small blind or big blind, it is important to defend or protect your blinds from being stolen by an aggressive opponent. You defend the blinds by one of two actions; either by calling the raise or by re-raising the raiser.

The big blind:  You should be able to call the bet because you are getting good odds to do so. If your cards are good enough, a raise for value might just win the pot without even seeing the flop if your opponent folds his hand.

The small blind is a little trickier. If there has been a raise before the betting gets to the small blind, defending the blind will depend on how many small bets need to be made and how good the hand is.  If there has not been any raises when action gets to the small blind, it is ok to complete the bet by putting in the remaining 1/2 of the small bet as the small blind is getting at least 2 to 1 odds to call and maybe more if other players limped into the pot by just calling one small bet and not raising.  What to do after the flop depends on whether the flop helped or improved your hand.

As the small blind and big blind are forced to bet, their cards can be considered to consist of a random hand. It is a goal of the professional poker player to try and get those blinds away from the players by either betting with a strong hand or by trying to bluff them into folding their hands. Many times a raise will cause both the small blind and the big blind to fold, giving you their blinds equal to 1 1/2 bets if you make a raise to two small bets. You only have to win 2 out of three times to show a profit. If you are re-raised you can make your decision as to what to do next based on how good your cards are.

Do you defend your blinds? Do you try to steal your opponents blinds or do you just play good hands?

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Taking advantage of training and other lessons

Kirby and his chips [Feb 7]
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Last Thursday night at the Twitter Poker Tour’s Season Three debut, I managed to outlast all of my opponents and win first place. Besides the first place cash prize, I was awarded a tee shirt and a month’s subscription to, a poker training website. To summarize the prize I won, I have included the following from their website.
————————————- Premium Users get access to videos created by the industry’s top poker coaches. Improve your game anytime, anywhere with videos built by coaches who have expertise in both theory and teaching.

Participate in forums
Access ALL articles & blogs
Download (DRM-Free) videos for any device
Access NEW premium video series
View 100+ archived videos
7-DAY FREE TRIAL! (Only with the Monthly Plan)*
The one month training package is worth $29.00. With their annual rate, you can bring the cost of training down to $23.20.

I have watched just three videos since signing up on Friday but those have been very helpful to me thus far. Last night, I played ” Passing the Torch, episode one, while playing Limit Hold ‘Em on PokerStars at the .50/1.00 level. By the time the video had finished, I had won over $20 more than I started with. Some of my playing was influenced by the video. I was able to make adjustments to my games while playing the video. I am sure the trainers would be shocked that I did not give the video 100% attention. I plan to continue playing during the videos to  use their advice immediately. I have only 27 days remaining, I want to put the training to use and benefit from the results. I will let you know my overall impressions of their training once the month is up.

Do any of you subscribe to paid poker training sites? Which ones do you use? What has been your results since the training? Do you feel the training was worth it to you?


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Decision making – the key to good poker

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I have been playing various forms of poker lately: Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud High Low, 2-7 Triple Draw and RAZZ. All of these games are somewhat similar even though the rules for each game might contain some differences; they all require decision making.

There is a famous quote that says “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” and that applies to poker games as well. The most basic decision you make during a game is whether to play the hand you are dealt to begin with. After you get your starting cards, your decisions should be based on what position you are at in relation to the dealer button, what your opponents are like, and what your hand strength is relative to all these other factors.

Once you decide to play a hand, you also have betting decisions to make such as calling, raising, re-raising, or even going all in. In some of these games, you are given more cards and more decisions to make based on what you hold and what you think your opponent holds. Did your hand improve? Did your opponent’s hand improve? Did your opponent think that your hand  improved?

As you can see, it starts to get very complex. And you can add to that the math decisions to consider;  the pot odds, the odds of making your hand if you are drawing, the implied odds if you make your hand at the turn or the river or on fifth, sixth or seven street.

In the book Caro’s Fundamental Secrets of Winning Poker by Mike Caro, he says in a blackboard style post, “The key to winning: In order to overcome the odds against you at gambling, your decision must really matter” and “in the long run. In poker you don’t get paid to win pots – you get paid to make the right decisions”.

The human condition being what it is, we sometimes replace sound decision making for emotional decision making and that is where we can go astray. When we forget to take the time to think over our decision, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

How do you make your poker decisions? Do you ever take the extra time to consider your actions before making them? Do you react emotionally to the players around you? Have you ever over thought a decision?

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