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Technically, all you need to play poker or blackjack is a deck of cards and a bunch of chips.
But there are a few accessories that make it a lot easier for the dealer to run the game.
Some of them are pretty cool, too.
I’ve been working as a casino dealer for a while — here is a list of the main ten card dealer accessories I can think of.
If you can think of other accessories, please leave a comment at the end of the page.
Poker dealer accessories
Probably the most important accessory for any poker game.
Although the position of the card dealer never changes, the position of the button does.
This determines who is first to act as well as the position of the small and big blind.
The dealer button is usually white, and quite big — it should be visible to all players at all times.
Small/big blind button
I’ve never seen these in casinos and poker rooms, but they can be used.
Occasionally, the position of the blinds may be counterintuitive, for example:
- When the small blind has just been stacked, or has left the table, and it’s big blind only
- When the game goes from three-handed to heads-up and the button is also the small blind
In this case, the dealer may want to use blind buttons to make it 100 percent clear who bets what.
Missed blind button
Again, never seen any of these in actual casinos.
Some rooms have a rule where if you leave the table and skip a few hands, and miss the blinds, then when you come back you have to post them.
So in that case the dealer may use the missed blind button as a reference.
This only applies to cash poker as in tournaments the blinds will be taken by the dealer regardless, even if the player is away.
Chip trays aren’t always necessary when playing poker.
Some poker tables have what’s called a chip float — a fairly large metallic container with a few rows of chips.
Some tables don’t, and if the dealer needs to keep a few chips in front of them (to give change for the rake, or bonus chips, or to keep the tips) then they may use a smaller tray or rack.
These are usually transparent, and much lighter. Plastic is the cheapest and most common material but you can find wooden ones.
These can be pretty useful, which is why most poker rooms have them.
When a player goes all-in, even if the amount isn’t much, the dealer will always announce it.
But placing a special card, or token, or button, helps make it clear to those players who may have been distracted, or who may have not heard the dealer.
Plus, some all-in situations can be confusing, for example:
- A player has only one chip left and goes all-in
- A player goes all-in by calling a bet which is bigger than their stack
- Two or more players go all-in
- A player announces all-in without pushing the chips forward
- A player announces all-in but puts only a few chips forward
No need for any of these in an actual casino or poker room.
But for a friendly home game, they are ideal.
Prior to dealing poker in casinos, I used to play poker with friends at home and keeping track of the blinds without a timer never worked out.
There are also websites and even apps that do the same, so it could be as simple as downloading an app on your phone.
Blackjack dealer accessories
This is the thick plastic card, usually black or red, that the dealer cuts the end of the blackjack deck with.
The main reason for this is to make it harder for card counters to predict when the deal will end, and whether the shoe is “full” or not.
Of course, poker dealers use cut cards as well. In poker, dealers are not supposed to turn the deck upside down, but if it ever happens, the cut card makes it impossible to see the bottom card.
Not the actual shoes worn by the dealer — this refers to the plastic container that holds the decks.
Whereas in the past blackjack was usually played with one or two decks, this would give a big advantage to card counters and those who could track the shuffle.
So nowadays blackjack is usually played with four, six, or even eight decks, and the shoe must be long enough to hold them.
As a casino dealer, I personally hate them. They are very expensive, and although they do save a little bit of time, they don’t feel authentic.
I would always prefer to shuffle the deck (or decks) myself. The customers tend to prefer that, too.
Either way, there are a few types of card shufflers that dealers can use — to speed up the game, or simply out of laziness.
Blackjack discard box
Finally, blackjack dealers need a special box where they can place all the discards.
For security reasons (e.g. if the dealer has made a mistake and the hand must be reconstructed), at the end of a hand all cards must be scooped up in order.
If the order was random, then there would be no way to reconstruct the hand.
So the dealer grabs the cards and places them in the blackjack discard box, which is usually transparent and L shaped.
Other casino accessories
- Dolly. The roulette marker. Right after the spin, the dealer grabs the dolly with their second and third finger and places it on the winning number.
- Money boxes. If a customer gives the dealer money, then the dealer will exchange it for chips then drop the notes in the money box, which is placed under the table.
- Special chips. For example, cash chips that can only be gambled and that cannot be cashed out. Usually given as part of a promotion to regular players. Or bounty tournament chips.
- Chipper machine. More of a piece of equipment than an accessory. This is the big machine that helps the roulette dealer sort all the chips (it makes the game much faster).
- Vertical chip rack. Roulette color chips have no inherent value. So when a customer plays with, say, red chips valued at $5 each, the dealer may put a red chip and a $5 cash chip together on the vertical rack in case they forget.
- Croupier stick. Only used in craps and roulette — the French version, which has a different layout. You’ll never see the dealer pass chips with a stick on European or American roulette.
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