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One Time, Dealer: The Previous Street

by Dealer Chick |  Published: Mar 11, 2020

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a dealer on the circuit grind? Do you have a question about behavior, etiquette, or anything else related to running a poker game? Do you want to know what dealers really think about while they’re pitching cards? What does it take to become a dealer? How should you treat dealers? Are dealers people, too?

Send your questions for The Dealer Chick (TDC) to editor@cardplayer.com, and read on for more advice, adventures, and real talk about life on the road for a traveling poker dealer.


Hi Dealer Chick,

In no-limit hold’em games, I’ve witnessed players asking about the action on the previous street. Either they want to know the amount of the bet made, or who was doing the betting. I have definitely lost money when players choose to answer these questions. Whenever this happens, I always ask players to not ask, but also to not answer, which can lead to arguing at the table. How else can I handle this situation? Are players allowed to have action that took place on the previous street explained? Or can they ask who raised preflop when facing a bet on the turn?

— Signed,

Street Smarts


Dear Smarts,

Why you’ve been left to contend with the players who want to hear the highlights of the game played back to them is a mystery, but here we are. Asking players to not discuss such things is a fine approach, I’d only adjust it by saying, next time, ask the dealer to reprimand the players instead.

If the dealer isn’t willing to handle it, then tell them to call the floor. It sounds like a lot of work to handle such a simple situation, but in my experience, having one player explain the rules to another usually ends up in a table quarrel which wastes more time.

Poker is a game that requires many different skills. A basic understanding of psychology, the ability to apply critical thinking to any given situation, various math applications, and the power of observation, to name a few. If observation weren’t important in poker, we wouldn’t have that player who insists on snuggling up to his eyebrows in a scarf, a pair of dark sunglasses on his face and a ball cap pulled down to his chin. But there’s more to observation than deciphering tells and making soul-crushing reads. Players must observe the game itself, and be able to remember what happened so they can analyze the story their opponent is telling. If they pay attention, they can figure out what parts of the story don’t make sense and then make the right decision based on the factors they observed.

Speaking of stories that don’t make sense, a few years back I walked into a poker room I’d never been to before around midnight, sat down at a $1-$3 limit cash game, and bought in for $60. About an hour into my session, this shapely blond sashays her way to the table and sits down in seat one. It’s one in the morning on a Tuesday, and this chick is dressed to kill. Bouffant hair, red lipstick, skin-tight pants, hooker heals, and cleavage for days. Up until that point, I’d been the only woman in the room.

From my spot in seat three, I watch her. It’s like watching a puppet master. The men sitting closest to her can’t stop staring at her heaving bosoms. The dealer, from his angle perched just above the table, enjoys the best view. The lady, whom I’ll call Gladys because of her classic strut and her penchant for clunky, costume jewelry, flips her hair and giggles in all the right places as she proceeds to act as though she’s never even seen a deck of cards.

“Oh, what’s this one worth?” she coos, and the dealer explains the chip values. “Ma’am,” he says, his voice dripping with lust-induced saccharin, “It’s your turn to post the blind.” Gladys shoves all her chips forward and gives him the doe-eyes. The men laugh, all too eager to mansplain her mistake. Gladys proceeds to rake in pot after pot after pot. I fold unless I have it, and watch. Honestly, this lady is so good at being bad that she even has me wondering how she found a poker room.

And then Gladys misclicks. She gets distracted by her phone, and when the dealer motions to her to act, she no-look helicopters her cards into the muck pile with the perfect precision of a cardroom reg. Not one of the men notices. Eventually, I double my stack through Gladys because I’m the only one not mesmerized by the way her breasts jiggle when she fake-laughs at their bad jokes. When I leave, Gladys is coloring up three racks of white chips off a $40 buy-in and pretending not to hear the guy in seat nine repeatedly ask for her number.

While my Gladys story doesn’t involve recapping action, it does make my point about the importance of observation and why no one should influence the action. I could’ve spoken up, maybe saved those guys some money, but why? It isn’t my place to help them notice vital details like when a vixen playing dumb gives away a clue or action on a previous street.

If players ask me to recap, I say, “This is a game of observation.” If someone asks me about action that is still visible, I’m happy to explain. Players sometimes can’t see because of the glare of the lighting, or vision issues.

I have no problem saying, “There was a bet of five and a raise to 20, action’s on you.” Or, “It’s been checked to you.” But if they ask, “Who raised pre?” or, “How many callers to the flop?” my response is, “I can’t tell you that, sir.” When another player says, “Five people called a raise to 15,” I smile and say, “One player per hand.” Then half the table glares at me. I smile and say, “Guys, part of the skill of the game is to remember the action.” Usually, that garners a few nods and a mumbled, “Yeah, she’s right,” before everyone settles down.

I realize poker is a social game in which players become friends over time, but there are no friends in poker. Often, players forget this concept and are happy to help another player recall the action, or read their hand or the board. All this help boggles my mind. I’m never going to remind you that the guy three-betting you on the flop limped pre anymore than I would tell you that there’s a flush draw on a paired board.

If players can’t come to game-winning conclusions by utilizing critical thinking skills on their own, then guess what? They’re not very good, and they should lose. What’s even more ridiculous than someone helping this befuddled player who can’t get the game straight, is that the well-intentioned helper is usually someone who’s not even in the hand! Seriously, bro? You have this deep altruistic desire to help so badly that you have to affect the action on a hand where your interest in the outcome is literally zero?

The problem is this: people don’t think. And poker is a thinking game. ♠