How to Properly Deal Blackjack – Part III (Tips & Tricks)

The following bullet points are tips and tricks that didn’t organically fit into the other two articles. There is no order or reason to them, just look through them and learn.

Tips & Tricks

  • The biggest tip I can give you, if you want to deal Blackjack, is to first go play Blackjack. Nothing will help you understand than game faster than playing it.
  • When you deal a face card, 10, or Ace as your up card, you must check your hole card. The players have an option for Insurance if the Ace is face up, but if it’s only the face card or 10 face up, there is no player option. Different houses have different rules for checking the hole card, so it’s a good idea to find out before an audition what that casino’s policy is by watching or playing at their tables beforehand.
  • Always announce a player’s Soft hand as both totals (for instance, if a player has an Ace and a 3, announce it as “4 or 14”
  • Sort chips in your rack, not on the table.
  • When paying out players’ bets, and you find you don’t have enough chips in your hand to pay out that bet, go back to the rack for more chips. Do not leave a partial payout and THEN go back – always pay out the full amount in one motion.
  • In single deck, Blackjacks are paid out 6-5 instead of 3-2
  • Always pay out bets by placing chips next to the bets, not in front of or behind the bet.
  • Never pay a bet with “dirty chips”, which are chips that other players bet that round and that you have picked up. Always pay out with “clean chips” from the rack, while placing “dirty chips” into the rack.
  • Practice chip cutting and card handling whenever you can. Nothing will harm your ability to look like a professional faster than fumbling with the chips.
  • When clearing cards at the end of a hand, make sure to keep your cards either on top or bottom of the stack, for ease of recovery if necessary.
  • A player cannot surrender if the dealer has a Blackjack.
  • The floor is your friend in the casino – if you have a situation that requires you to break from procedure, always call the floor and they will walk you through your proper steps.
  • When dealing from a shoe, it is acceptable to use only your left hand when dealing ards to the first two spots on the left of the table. Just flip it over from bottom to top.
  • Work on your poker face – when you look at the down card when showing an Ace, you can’t reveal anything to the players!
  • Remember that first and foremost, you need to entertain your players. Smile, be friendly, give advice on how to play if they need it, and try to let them have fun. If you can go above and beyond that, by anticipating their needs, then you’ll find that the money will usually follow.


“I bet on a horse at ten-to-one.  It didn’t come in until half-past five.”  

-Henny Youngman

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How to Properly Deal Blackjack – Part I (The Basics)

Dealing Blackjack is one of the most common casino pit jobs, and also one of the most nuanced to deal. If you master it you can almost guarantee that you’ll pass most auditions and be that much closer to landing a job in a big casino. Almost everyone here at IHP can deal blackjack to some degree. While we here at IHP we don’t necessarily take a rigid stance on proper procedure (fun gambling vs. actual gambling, you know), knowing how to deal the most popular casino card game in proper style will help you move up in levels, meaning more job opportunities, meaning more money, meaning more exposure in IHP, meaning eventual fame and fortune, naturally. And who doesn’t like that?

This will be a three part series, as Blackjack is a deceptively simple game to deal, and what will separate you from the rest of the skilled dealers are the little things. The first installation will be about the basics. The second installment will be about the differences between single and multiple deck Blackjack. And finally, the third installment will be about tips and mechanics of dealing Blackjack.

Blackjack Basics – a Refresher Course

Blackjack is a one-on-one game between each player and the dealer. The basic rules of Blackjack are simple – players try to score as close to 21 as possible without exceeding 21. Cards 2 through 10 count as their face value, while face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10 points each. The Ace counts as 11 points, unless that would make your total exceed 21 – in that case, the Ace counts as 1 point. The player goes first, hitting/standing/splitting/doubling-down/surrendering/taking insurance, and then the dealer takes his or her turn. Since dealers are responsible for paying out bets, they can’t take insurance. They also can’t split their hand, double down, or surrender. All of these options will be discussed in detail below.

The Shuffle

Before any cards are dealt, they must be shuffled. Procedures vary depending on how many decks you are using. See the blog “The Differences Between Single and Multiple Deck Blackjack” for specifics on the differences.

The Deal

Once the cards are shuffled, it’s time to deal. Make sure all players have placed their bets before you start dealing cards – players can’t touch their bet once the cards are dealt, and no more betting occurs unless they’re doubling down or splitting their hand.

Deal to the player on your left first, then move left to right to the remaining players, giving them one card each. Finish by dealing yourself one card face down. Deal another card to each player, and deal your final card facing upwards. If your card is an Ace, ask the players if they want to purchase Insurance.

Insurance  A side bet that can be up to half of the original bet. Blackjack Insurance pays 2:1 when the dealer’s hole card is a face card or 10, giving the dealer Blackjack. Any other card in the hole and the bet loses, but the player can still win or lose on their original bet. When a player has Blackjack and your up card is an Ace, the insurance bet may be offered as “even money”, paid immediately at 1:1 (instead of 3:2) before checking the dealer’s hand. (This is done on the player’s end to avoid a push in case the dealer has Blackjack.) Turn your hand sideways, offer Insurance bets by waving your hand over the Insurance banner. After insurance bets are made, discreetly check your hole card by slightly bending the corner up, without creasing the card, while shielding the cards with your hands (most casinos will have a mirror set-up in the table to check the corner of the card). If you have Blackjack, turn your hole card face up, collect bets, and pay out insurance winnings at 2:1.

The Players’ Turns

Starting from your left, all of the players play their hand in turn. Players have several options, as covered earlier. Here are the choices in detail:

  • Blackjack – If the player has Blackjack on their first two cards, they win their original bet back with a 3:2 bonus (for example, a $20 bet receives $30+$20).
  • Stand – To take no more cards and play with the count they currently have (i.e. a King and an 8 would be 18, and the player would likely Stand). If the player stands, move to the next player.
  • Hit – To take another card, adding that card’s value to your count. A player can hit as many times as he or she would like. If the player continues drawing cards until their hand exceeds 21, they’ve busted – collect their bet, place it in the tray, and move on to the next player.
  • Double Down – When a player has a total of 11 (some houses allow with 11 or 10, while some houses allow a player to Double Down on any two cards), he or she may choose to double their original bet, and receive one card only with no further option to hit. When you deal this card, place it perpendicular to the other cards, face up (some players prefer face down, most houses allow for this).
  • Split – When a player has any pair, they have the option to Split, and turn one hand into two different hands. You as the dealer will take the cards, face up, and place them by their respective bets. Deal one card face up to the first hand, and the player has all of these options again. If they receive another card of the same value, they can split again, up to four times total. (The only exception being if the player splits Aces – as in a Double Down, only one card is dealt per Ace, in perpendicular fashion, and most houses do not allow for further splits. Any split blackjacks should be paid out at 1:1 odds instead of the typical 3:2 bonus payment.) The player will play each hand independently, starting with the hand to your left.
  • Surrender – Some houses allow for a player to surrender half of their bet for no further action on their hand. This is signified by the player drawing a line with their finger, perpendicular to the cards, and just below their bet. You would then take their bet, return half the bet total from your tray, and then retrieve the cards.

The Dealer’s Turn

After all the players have had their turns, and the bets and cards of players who either busted or had Blackjack are removed, it’s the dealer’s turn. As the dealer, you face rules that limit how you can hit or stand. In most casinos, the dealer is required to hit on hands worth less than 17 points, regardless of the cards that make up their hand. Hands worth 17 points or above can’t be hit on.

Begin by turning over your hole card. If your hand’s total value is 16 points or less, deal yourself another card and continue until your hand’s value is 17 or more points. If your second card is an Ace, count it as 11 only until your total exceeds 21, at which point the ace has a value of 1 point.

If the value of your hand exceeds 21, you’re bust and the remaining players win. If your hand is worth less than 21, pay any players with a higher value than you, and collect bets from players whose hands have a lower value than yours. Finally, if you tie with a player, refund their bet. Once you’ve dealt with all of bets and finished playing, collect cards from all players and prepare for the next hand.


It’s that simple! Read the next two installments to get the full lesson in!

“There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience, but the harshest one of all is the difference between having fun and being smart.”

–Hunter S. Thompson

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How to Properly Deal Blackjack – Part II (The Differences Between Single and Multi Deck)

In Part I we covered some basics of dealing Blackjack, and now we are going to discuss the difference in dealing the main two different types of Blackjack – Single/Double Deck and Multiple Deck (usually 4,6, or 8 decks). There are subtle and obvious differences between the two, and it’s becoming more and more rare to find single or double deck Blackjack in the casinos today, but you should still know how to deal either.


Single/Double Deck – Start with the decks together in a square pile. Halve the deck, and riffle the stacks together. Repeat this two or three times (depending on house rules), alternating with stripping the deck (hold the cards in one hand between your fingers like an eagle claw, and grab a portion of the top of the deck, sliding sections of the cards down onto the table, until the deck is re-stacked on the felt). Box the deck and offer the cut to a player.

Multiple Decks – If there are cards in the shoe, take them and place them in the middle of the just finished stack. Take this stack of cards and place it in two equal stacks to either side of the table, to your right and left. Take approximately 1/4 of each stack, bring them to the middle of the table, and riffle, strip, riffle. Place it above the area used for shuffling, onto a cut card. You should now have three stacks, one small one in front of you and one to each side. Take 1/3 of the cards from the stack in front of you, and 1/4 from the stack the the left. Riffle, strip, riffle, and place on the middle stack. Repeat this step, alternating between the two outside stacks, but always using the middle stack, until you end up with one stack. Divide this in half again, and bring the two stacks together 1/4 at a time, riffling once, but keeping the deck unboxed and laced. When the entire stack is laced, carefully turn it over to its side, cut card facing you, top of the stack facing the players. Square the cards against the shoe. Place the cut card on top and offer the cut to a player, making sure not to pass the insurance line.

Cutting the Deck

Single/Double Deck – When offering the cut to a player, extend the deck to the player no further than the insurance line and parallel to the table, while keeping it on the felt. Keep your hand on the deck with your index finger holding the cut card on top of the deck, protruding out in front. The player should take the cut card and slide it into the deck. Bring the deck back in front of you, and bring the bottom portion under the cut card to the top, placing it on top of the other half of the deck, so that the cut card is now on the bottom.

Multiple Decks – When offering the cut to a player, extend the stack with the top card facing the player, no further than the insurance line, while keeping it on the felt. Keep your hand on the stack with your index finger holding the cut card on top, protruding out in front. The player should take the cut card and slide it into the stack. Bring the deck back in front of you, and bring the bottom portion under the cut card to the top, placing it on top of the other half of the deck, so that the cut card is now on the bottom. Place a second cut card approximately 1/3 up from the bottom of the stack.


Single/Double Deck – Hold the deck firmly in your non-dominant hand, into your palm and lightly spread, with the top against your forefinger. Use your thumb to push off the top card, while grabbing the card between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand. Hold the deck at stomach level and pitch the cards face down to each player (for proper pitch technique, see the IHP blog entry How to Properly Pitch Cards When Dealing Casino Games), and deal your first card face down, second card face up. Some houses require a “tuck”, which is when the first card to the dealer is face up and the second card is quickly slid under the face up card.

Multiple Decks – Multi-deck Blackjack is dealt using a shoe.BJ Shoe

This is the plastic or wooden device that holds the large stack of cards, which the dealer uses to pull single cards at a time.

You use the first two fingers of your left hand to slightly push the deck up and pull the first card out. It’s a motion that will quickly become natural, because the card simply won’t come out if you’re doing it incorrectly. Transfer the card from your left hand to your right while flipping it face up in front of the player’s bet. Deal all the players’ cards face up, making sure to place the top card on the bottom left side of the first card so that both of the numbers on the card and all the pips (especially the center one) are showing. When dealing to yourself, the first card is face down, until the second card is dealt. Then you use your right hand to flip the first card, while using your left hand to pull the second card face down under the now face up first card.

Player Actions

Single/Double Deck – Players are only allowed to hold their cards with one hand, and they use the cards to signal their actions. Scraping the corner of the cards twice on the felt signifies a hit, while sliding the corner of the cards under the bet signifies a stand. When a player doubles down or splits, he or she flips their cards over, face up, and you as the dealer will take over handling the cards for them. Handle them as if this were a multi-deck hand for the remainder of the hand.

Multiple Decks – In multiple deck Blackjack, the players never touch the cards. All cards are dealt face up in front of their bet. All actions must be non-verbal in a casino (for the cameras) and must not take place over the bet (also for the cameras). While dealing IHP events, verbal declarations will suffice. The players give their actions, offering up additional chips as needed for Splits or Double Downs, but you as the dealer are responsible for handling the cards and chips on the felt.

Dealer Actions

Dealer actions mostly don’t change from single to double to multi-deck blackjack. The one exception is when dealing single or double deck, and it comes time to check the hole cards of the players who chose to Stand. Flip their cards with your non-deck hand, and payout/kill their hand accordingly.


“Rude people will now & then ask me why I think I know so much about Politics. I tell them it’s because I’m smart…but that is a lie: The real reason is because I’m an incurable Gambling addict.”

 Hunter S. Thompson

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The Five Worst Poker Scenes in Cinema

As I mentioned in “The Five Best Poker Scenes in Cinema”, there’s a ton of bad movies out there about the world of casinos, poker, horse tracks, and everything else. So, let’s talk about the worst poker seen on screen now.

Some notes before we begin:

  1. Spoiler Alert: Obviously I can’t discuss some scenes without giving away key plot points. Deal with it. If this blog happens to ruin a movie for you, trust me – it didn’t. Most of these movies were spoiled when they were released.
  2. Poker Rules: Some of these entries will be there simply because of the awful rules violations or etiquette breaches (once again, I’m looking at you, “Casino Royale”).
  3. There will be variations of poker games represented in these lists. You don’t have to be familiar with them to enjoy the scene.
  4. I’ve tried to link to the videos when I can. Enjoy.

And, without further ado, here are my five worst poker scenes in cinema:

5. “Big Hand for a Little Lady” – I include this entire movie as one scene because the premise of the movie is against at least three of the basic rules of poker. If you haven’t seen it, it’s not bad, per se, it’s just not very accurate to what can be done at a poker game.

4. “Maverick” hits a Royal Flush – Even though this movie makes an effort to not take itself too seriously, this scene must be included based simply on the fact that these hands would NEVER run into each other in a five card draw game. Yet, to amp up the drama for Hollywood, the final hand looks like this:

What you don’t see before this, is this is the last hand that will be dealt, and the Commodore (James Coburn) has quad 8s. So of course Angel (Alfred Molina) has a straight flush, and Maverick (Mel Gibson) – who called with the 10, Jack, Queen and King of spades and hadn’t looked at the fifth card yet – turns over the game-winning ace of spades for the Royal Flush.

That dealer would’ve been shot dead.

3. “Deal” or “All-in” or “Shade” – This is a pick-em. I was trying to pick a scene from any one of these three movies to represent them, but they’re all equally awful. Just bad dialogue, bad motivation, bad acting, bad scripts, bad poker, bad bad bad bad bad. Do yourself a favor and don’t watch these movies.

2. WSOP Final Table in “Lucky You” – It’s a difficult task to pick out the worst scene from Lucky You, since it’s widely regarded as one of the worst poker films to have a major theatrical release. From the uninspired cameos by players like Jennifer Harman, John Hennigan and David Oppenheim, to the miscast Drew Barrymore, to the asinine dialogue at the poker tables (who teases someone for ordering water??), this film never stood a chance.

The cheesiness of the poker scenes is capped with the WSOP Main Event final table, where of course both main characters have found themselves. The final table is announced like it’s a professional basketball game, the action is fast and furious – no one ever just steals the blinds – and a legendary Hall of Fame-type poker player intentionally slowrolls the shit outta someone who is supposedly his friend. Throw in all of the dramatic hands and sappy storylines, and this movie was dead money as soon as it was made.

Skip to the 31:20 mark. Sorry, no YouTube link for this one.

1. The final hand in “Casino Royale” – Casino Royale was revolutionary in the James Bond franchise because it marked a fresh, modern look and feel to the franchise. But the completely ridiculous poker scene where the buy-in was $10 million is the centerpiece of the finale., and it played out like it was written by a poker fanboy who had never actually sat at a poker table and played the game. The final hand alone was bad enough to make this the worst-ever poker scene.

First off, the structure was unorthodox at best – it was a cash game with escalating blinds like a tournament, and everyone bought in for $10 million each, with an optional $5 million rebuy.  After Bond survived a mid-game poisoning (as you do), the game continued with $150 million in play on the table, no more rebuys, and a big blind of $1 million cash. In this hand there are four players left, and we didn’t see the pre-flop or flop action because we pick up the final hand on the turn, but we are given the information that “there is $24 million in the pot”. The turn makes everything, and all four players inexplicably checked. On the river the board read Ah 6s 8s 4s As, and then the wheels just came off on this scene.

The first two players, who are short stacked with 6BB and 5BB remaining, both move all in. Bond and Le Chiffre (the villain) have approximately $40 million each. Bond goes all-in, while Le Chiffre calls, leaving the final four players with everything in the pot. The first player flips over KsQs for an ace-high flush, the second player flopped a set of 8s to river a full house, Le Chiffre showed A6 for a better full house, and Bond wins with 5s7s, for a straight flush.

Now, here is a list of mistakes and errors with this scene:

  • First off, with no antes mentioned, why are there 100K chips in play?
  • Despite the fact that everyone has different chip stacks, the dealer never established any main pot or side pots.
  • At showdown, the dealer mucked the first player’s hand because it was beaten, despite the fact that the second player didn’t have the first player covered.
  • At showdown, seeing as he made the last raise, Bond should show first. Also, the dealer should settle the side pot between Bond and Le Chiffre first before dealing with any other pots. But, this wouldn’t allow for the manufactured drama of having the players show their hands in order of strength, allowing Le Chiffre and Bond to slowroll each other, like assholes.
  • I have to mention the hands themselves – the odds of this hand occurring are so ridiculous that I refuse to calculate it. Four players, each of whom has a major piece of this board, and we almost qualify for the Bad Beat Jackpot (in some casinos this would have qualified).
  • How do both short stacked players only put half their stacks in pre-flop (or on the flop) with the hands they hold? Only 24BBs in a 4 way pot where one guy flopped top two, one flopped a set, one flopped the second nut flush draw, and one flopped an open-ended straight flush draw.
  • Paper cards?? In the largest NLHE cash game ever held??


“Casino Royale”, you dropped the ball on this scene. Next time, use some budget to get a real poker consultant to advise on these scenes, please.


“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling. I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.”

–Mitch Hedberg

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Card Player Cruises and IHP’s Inaugural Texas Poker Classic – Results and Pics

The cards have been thrown, the smoke has cleared, and the chips have finally settled. The inaugural Texas Poker Classic is over, and the 2016 champion has been crowned. But I get ahead of myself…

For those that weren’t there, or didn’t know, Card Player Cruises and IHP have collaborated to create the Texas Poker Classic, a deep-stack freeze-out Texas Hold’em tournament held aboard a cruise. Royal Caribbean’s ‘Liberty of the Seas’ departed from the port of Galveston on March 6, for a week, with stops in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel. There were 120+ poker players on this cruise, and once they played down to a final table, their chip stacks looked like this:


Yes, that’s our fearless leader Bill Heuer in 4th chip position!

Fate was not on Bill’s side, however, as the finishes almost reflected the stacks at the start of the final table. Only one player was able to move up the pay ladder:

  1. Chuck Barker
  2. Misha Heyde
  3. Butch Hallford
  4. Bill Heuer










Congratulations Chuck! And Bill, too – but more to Chuck.









A plaque AND cash? I’m in!

The Poker Room

If you’ve never played poker on a cruise ship, you would probably be surprised at how roomy and comfortable this room is, with professional dealers, casino quality tables and equipment, and almost 24/7 action.

Click this link to watch a video of the actual poker room.









The mutually legendary Jan Fisher and Linda Johnson, both of Card Player Cruises, who run a tight ship (pun intended).

2017 Texas Poker Classic

If you missed this year, you don’t want to miss next year. Ask anyone who made the trip – it’s non-stop fun and action! So, mark your calendars now – the second poker cruise, featuring the Texas Poker Classic hosted by iHost Poker, is 04/30/2017. It’s a 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s “Liberty of the Seas”, leaving out of the port of Galveston, and including Ports of Call in Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. You can book your tickets now as LOW as $559.00.









“There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience, but the harshest one of all is the difference between having fun and being smart.”

Hunter S. Thompson

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The Five Best Poker Scenes in Cinema

Who doesn’t love a great movie about gambling? There’s a ton of bad movies out there about the world of casinos, poker, horse tracks, and everything else – but I’m not gonna talk about them. I’m talking about the five best scenes in film history, according to me. If you want to write your own list, get your own blog – but you’ll be wrong. These are THE top five.

Some notes before we begin:

  1. Spoiler Alert: Obviously I can’t discuss some scenes without giving away key plot points. Deal with it. If this blog happens to ruin a movie for you, I have no sympathy – why are you reading this blog when you should be brushing up on your gambling movies??
  2. Poker Rules: Let’s face it – there hasn’t been a movie made yet that doesn’t break at least one conventional standard rule of poker or etiquette in every scene (i.e. string bets, all-in situations, one player per hand, etc.). So, we have to just throw the rulebook out the window in this list and just judge the scenes on film merit – unless the rules and etiquette violations are just egregious (I’m looking at you, “Casino Royale”).
  3. There will be variations of poker games represented in these lists. You don’t have to be familiar with them to enjoy the scene.
  4. I’ve tried to link to the videos when I can. Enjoy.

Without further ado, here’s my top five poker scenes in cinema:

5. All three poker nights seen in “The Odd Couple” – If you haven’t seen this classic comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, you’re missing out. It’s a great comedy, and the poker scenes are the funniest home game moments you’ll ever see. These five friends have been playing together so long they almost finish each other’s jokes, as well as their sandwiches.

4. Poker lessons from “Oceans Eleven” – This scene features a lot of star power – Brad Pitt is teaching five card draw to a group of young rich Hollywood stars, including Topher Grace and Joshua Jackson, when George Clooney crashes the lesson. The two veteran conmen quickly work together to fleece the suckers, who think “all red” cards (meaning three hearts and two diamonds) is a hand of any kind.

3. “The Cincinnati Kid” wins with one lousy pair – In this movie filled with great poker, this opening scene sets the tone with a cast of characters (the dealer needs a movie of his own) and action, showing Steve McQueen’s Eric “The Kid” Stoner to be capable of handling himself on the felt and off. This scene showed the grittier side of a poker player’s life, and sets up the dirty and edgy feel of the movie. And that perfectly sets up the ending.

2. Mike McDermott vs. Teddy KGB heads up in “Rounders” – While the first matchup was the one that hooked me in this movie the first time I saw it (I found it easy to relate to the bad beat), the final confrontation was what the entire movie was building up to. Mike used his skills and his experience to finally get himself back where he belonged – on the felt. In a world with so many bad luck stories, Mike McDermott represents the less-seldom seen good luck stories where the hard work paid off and the odds broke in your favor.

1. The backroom poker game on a train in “The Sting” – This iconic movie featured a cast of legends at their peak (Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Robert Shaw), each a con man and/or criminal trying to get one up on the other. Newman’s Henry Gondorff sits down in a high stakes cash game held on a train, and proceeds to out-swindle Doyle Lonnegan (Shaw), a Chicago mob-boss. This scene shows just how good a card mechanic Gondorff is, as they set up for the long con to crush Doyle and get revenge for a friend’s murder.



“The greatest risk is not taking one.”

― Tim Fargo

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How to Properly Pitch Cards When Dealing Casino Games

There are several games that require you to pitch cards as you deal (poker, single or double deck blackjack, and gin rummy, to name a few), so knowing how to do so professionally and effectively is a must. Once you have your shuffle perfected (see previous entry) you can work on your pitch, or delivery, of the cards.

Holding the Deck

First, hold the deck in your non-dominant hand. Position the deck mostly in your fingers, resting the back of the deck in your palm, and the front outside corner between your pointer and middle fingers. Pull the other fingers of your hand just below the top card of the deck to avoid lifting cards up and exposing them as you pull them off the deck. Slightly fan the deck to make it easier to grab the top card, and angle it slightly downward towards the table, also to avoid flashing cards.

The Pitch

With the hand that’s holding the deck, lightly but firmly slide the top card with your thumb towards your other hand, which should palm up, fingers loose, ready to grab the top card. Take the card between your thumb and pointer of your dominant hand, and using your middle finger, gently flick the card toward the player to whom you are dealing. Use the deck almost like a ramp, and the edge of the card should be on your fingernail – your finger should be all that forces the card to move. A good pitch will not move your wrist or your elbow, and all the action comes from your middle finger.

The Delivery

Don’t try to pitch the card all the way to the player – try to land it on the table about a foot in front of them, and the card should slide face down the rest of the way to them. This can avoid situations when the player accidentally causes a card to flip up because the card was in the air as they moved their hands. If the cards slide on the table to them. there are obviously less chances for the card to flip over due to player interference. If the card doesn’t make it all the way to the player, take a quick moment to push the card to them before continuing on with the deal.


  • Keep your elbows locked to your sides
  • Don’t grip the deck or the cards too tightly, you can bow the cards and expose them to the players
  • Don’t grab the top card by the corner, grab about 20-30% down the side of the card
  • Leave both palms face up, wrists close together, like you’re wearing handcuffs
  • If you need visual help with any of these points, there are a plethora of videos on the internet that will show you these concepts live


“It’s hard to walk away from a winning streak, even harder to leave the table when you’re on a losing one.”

― Cara Bertoia


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How to Properly Shuffle a Deck of Cards for Poker

Every game in a casino has its own dealing quirks and tricks – poker is no different. There are things that are done in poker that are exclusive to poker, and some things that are just common. The shuffle is one of the common steps – you can use these steps to shuffle for any single deck game.

The first recommendation I can make is to use 100% plastic cards (such as KEM, Copac, DaVinci, and many others) – don’t get plastic coated, get 100% plastic cards. They will more than pay for themselves over the years of use you’ll get out of them.

Now, for the basic shuffle, there are three basic steps:

  1. The Wash
  2. The Riffle
  3. The Cut

I’ll explain each in detail below.

1. The Wash

Traditionally, a full wash is done after changing decks, after a dealer change, or on occasion after dealing for a while at a non-shuffle machine table. Every card face should touch the felt in a full wash, and it should take about 5 or 6 seconds, maximum. A full wash isn’t necessary between every hand, a mini-wash is sufficient between every hand.

A wash is when you spread the deck face down, and move your hands over them in a circular motion, lightly touching the cards to spread them around. Gather them in, and use either the cut card or the top card(s) to collect the deck, then lift it and face them away from you (unlike house games, where you face the cards towards you). Knock the deck on the table to get some of the deck horizontal, then square it up with your thumbs and place it flat on the table.

2. The Riffle

The standard casino shuffle is a “riffle, riffle, box, riffle” – a riffle means to split the deck in two equal parts, lifting the corners of each with your thumb, and alternatively guide them back together.

RiffleA box is to take the deck into one hand, and grab a portion of the deck from the top, then pull it down to the felt. Repeat the same process, pulling down sections of the deck until you’ve replaced the bottom on the top.

You should but boxing about 3 or 4 times. Five or more is overkill, and once is not enough. Keep all portions of the deck parallel to the table the entire time.

3. The Cut

The last step is to square the deck face down in front of you with your cut card parallel to, and directly in front of, your deck. Take your dominant hand, lift one third of the deck, and place it down on the cut card. Then, using the same hand, take the other two thirds of the deck and place it on top of the first half. (Never use two hands to cut the deck.) Pick up the deck in your non-dominant hand, square it up, and prepare to deal. TRIVIA TIME – The first cut of the deck in step 3 is the technical beginning of a new hand in poker.


“It’s hard to walk away from a winning streak, even harder to leave the table when you’re on a losing one.”

― Cara Bertoia,

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A Raffle with a Twist

Many of us dealt the Jen H. event at Royal Sonesta last month, but how many of you noticed that their raffle was a *little* different? I noticed, because I was dealing Pai Gow Poker, which meant no one wanted to play for the first half of the night. Until one man was brave enough to sit down and learn, and then the table almost filled up. In the meantime, while waiting for my table to sprout players, I watched the raffle. Most raffles happen at the end of the event, after everyone is done playing. But, at this event, they did raffles in waves. They had three waves total, and gave away great prizes throughout. Check out the items they had – and this is just a sample:


So, why did they do this? I think one reason is because they had so many great items that there wasn’t anything that monumentally stood out as a “Finale” for the evening. When your gifts are this impressive, there’s no need to draw extra attention to them – they do that work for you.

But I present it does something slightly better than that – it keeps people interested, and keeps people gambling. When you turn in chips for tickets, and lose during Wave 1, and quickly see another chance to win again around the corner, you gamble more. To try to win again. And when you miss on Wave 2, guess what? You gamble again some more to try to win again in Wave 3. This simple change took people from gambling a little to getting them to gamble a lot. Smart move if you have enough prizes to raffle off. And boy, did they. Check out this video of prizes:


Not too shabby. And the system they used had every gambling until the last minute. Well done, Sunoco, and well done, Kristi Kinkaid!


“Last year people won more than one billion dollars playing poker. And casinos made twenty-seven billion just by being around those people.”

–Samantha Bee

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The IHostPoker Difference

Have you ever heard the phrase “You get what you pay for?” Of course you have – but do you agree with it? Of course you do – it’s true. Things that are cheaper tend to be cheaper for a reason – they’re cheap.

At IHP, you can work in the knowledge that we offer the best equipment for you to work with. Casino quality tables, buttons, cards, and anything else you need to make your table feel like Vegas. Compare below some of the differences:

Brand X Poker Tables vs iHostPoker Poker Table

This IHP table has drink holders & seats 9-10 players comfortably


This table from our competitors is made for eight players, has no place for a dealer, has useless drink holders (too shallow) and just looks and plays awful


Brand X Craps Table vs iHostPoker Craps Table

This competitor’s table looks like it was made overnight by someone who watched Casino for the first time to get an idea of what to build







This IHP table has a drink rail for your cocktails and is built just like a real Vegas craps table


Brand X Roulette Table vs iHostPoker Roulette Table

This IHP roulette table has a 19″ solid wooden wheel, cup holders for your drinks, and a reader board to track the numbers












Come on. Do I even need to point out what a mess this is?













The pictures show what we all know – IHostPoker is the top of the line. You get what you pay for – and what you pay for with us is professional dealers, Vegas style equipment, and a great experience. They can save a few bucks, or we can make their night a real event to look back on.


“The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.”

–Kin Hubbard

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