I have a group of friends who play Texas Hold'em, and one of the guys who plays has a habit of picking up the deck at really odd times when he's dealing. This is playing with a rotating dealer, so at this time he's a player as well as a dealer.

After the flop, people will be placing bets, going around the table, and then he'll randomly pick up the deck while he's thinking. I really don't think he's cheating or anything. It's probably just a habit, and I'm not sure why it bothers me. Maybe it's distracting? Maybe I'm not able to pay attention to other players because I need to watch the deck to make sure there isn't any funny business? I can't quite put my finger on it.

Is it against the rules for him to do this? I'm thinking the best description is that he's handling the deck when it isn't necessary.

  • 1
    No B&M casinos pass the deck anymore. I never played much that way at least not enough to understand the rules if there were any. This is a home game and you the players make the rules for the game and could certainly agree to a rule about leaving the deck on the table unless cards need to be pitched.
    – Jon
    May 16, 2020 at 3:30
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    As a former dealer, whom in our own home games also had 3 other dealers at the time, we played a pass the deck every few rounds amongst the dealers just so no one got to bored of it and could focus on the game. Maybe it's just our habits as dealers, but that deck never left our hands during a hand and was visible in our hand at all times, we would use our spare hand to check cards and use chips. But looks it's a home game, if it bothers you just mention it and establish some rules around it. Home games are flexible with rules. Do what works for everyone at the game.
    – Grinch91
    May 18, 2020 at 12:40
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    I'd also say, when it comes to a home game, as long as no one is cheating and the main rules of the game are being followed, I'd argue best not to bring in nit picking rules. It's meant to be fun amongst friends. I'd check if it's bothering others, if it is just mention it, you'll probably find your friend is unaware they're even doing it. In home games it's best to resolve issues friendly if possible. Plus the main big official rules (WSOP, TDA) wouldn't likely account for this seen as they're all dealer dealt anyway.
    – Grinch91
    May 18, 2020 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


As a dealer, I would never not be holding the deck from the moment it was cut and picked up, until the stub was being mucked.

The biggest concern is what can be done when the deck is picked up and released, repeatedly. The dealer should ideally pick up and hold the deck throughout the hand, but for a home game this may not be feasible, and therefore the deck should be placed on the table unless it is necessary to pick it up. Even for dealing individual cards (e.g. burns, turn, river) these can be slid off the top, so once the initial deal and the flop are complete, nobody needs to be holding it either.

Using a small plastic tab or a card coin on top of the deck will avoid cards being accidentally blown or swept off the top while it waits, and there is no risk of the deck being dropped or exposed while the dealer handles their pocket cards or chips either. Raising these concerns (and explicitly avoiding any discussion of cheating or the perception thereof) may make it easier to get this person to reduce the habit.


Yes, in states that allow(ed) player-dealt poker (as did California in years past), there are such rules. California didn't have hold'em back then, but the lowball rules were like this:

Dealer shuffles, age cuts, then dealer deals everyone five cards. Dealer then sets down the stub and puts a chip on it. Players declare their draw in turn, after which the dealer must physically discard his draw before picking up the stub to fulfill the draws. After fulfilling the draws, he puts down the stub and puts a chip on it again, and finishes the hand.

You should make similar rules for your home game.


There are no set rules for rotating-dealer games, so players would have to agree on that one among themselves

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