A Look at House Rules: Drawing Cards
You head into your favorite card room for an afternoon of intense action and fun and the possibility of taking home more cash than you had when you arrived. All the ingredients needed to whip a game into action are waiting as you put your name on an interest list: an empty table, a dealer, chips, cards, a dealer button, and a list of players. The brush person then calls the list — and BOOM! A poker game magically explodes into chip clatter and table chatter as the dealer spreads the deck and takes the first step toward beginning play — drawing cards.
Drawing cards is an important part of beginning a new game and can be equally as important if a game breaks down. Keep reading and we’ll explain how it works.
Drawing cards when starting new button games
In most poker rooms, when a new game begins the dealer will either deal one card face up to each player (beginning with Seat 1 — the first seat or player to the left of the dealer), or spread the deck face down and allow each player to pick one card that is turned up in front of the player. This is known as “drawing for the button.” The player drawing the highest card designates where the button is placed, with ties broken by suits (the order is high to low — spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs).
All players who draw for the button are entitled to be dealt into the game without posting a blind until the button moves in natural progression to put them in the blind positions. If a player has chips on the table but doesn’t participate in the draw, that player must post the blind to be dealt in or wait until he or she is in the blind position to take a hand.
High limit mixed games not only allow the player who drew high card to have the button, but also allow that player to set the order of the games played. Obviously if the game is H.O.R.S.E. (fixed-limit hold’em, Omaha hi/lo, razz, seven-card stud, seven-card stud hi/lo), the order is already set.
In stud-based games the deal always starts with the first player to the left of the dealer. One exception could be in very high limit where players have decided that it will be dealt off of a rotating button, but that would be a rare event.
Drawing cards when games break
When a game breaks down (in both button and stud-based games) and another game of the same limit and format is running, the players from the breaking game must draw to determine the order of the list for the active game. This is normally done with the dealer spreading the deck and each player drawing one card face up. Again, the list order is determined by the cards’ rank (high to low) with ties broken by the suits.
Players who have an absent button and haven’t been active in the game or are away from the table aren’t included in the draw when a game breaks. Those players would be added to the list after the names of those who drew a card.
Most home games are established with a drawing rule to start the game. Drawing for the high card is usually the best way to kick off the game of your choice and control the dealer button. In some home games that play with dealer’s choice games, the player with the button may choose to play a particular game for one round of the table. When the button returns to the same starting position, the next player to receive the button then calls his or her game choice for the next round of the table.
If your favorite home game runs more than one table, when one breaks down, drawing to set a list for the first seat open makes perfect sense.
When a new game starts in online poker, a high card draw is done for the button. When a game of online poker breaks down, the game is over and there is no draw for another table. The good news is you can immediately put your name on a list for any game of your choice and within a short time you’ll be in another game firing up the action.
Many online poker sites offer Player Points (used in the VIP tier programs) for starting new games. The great thing about online poker is you can start and enter games and leave at any time — and there’s always a seat open when you return.