You’re seated at the table waiting for play to start. Before the (professional) dealer begins to deal the cards for poker play, he/she deals a card in a semicircle for each seat that is occupied at the table. The seat that has the card of highest value becomes the initial button at the table. The dealer button is placed in front of that player.
After each hand, The Button is moved in front of the player sitting to the left of the last player who had The Button. If there is no player in a seat, The Button moves to the left again and is placed in front of the first seat occupied by a player. (There are circumstances when The Button is placed in front of an empty seat. Let’s focus on the basics, and let the dealer worry about that right now.)
As play continues, The Button keeps moving clockwise around the table. It never breaks its clockwise flow. One trip around the entire table is referred to as an ‘orbit’.
Why is the placement of The Button so important?
In No Limit Hold’em:
- Who gets to play first,
- Who gets to play last, and
- Who has to put in the forced bets (called “blinds” and explained in the next chapter)
are determined by the location of The Button. The Button moves from seat to seat in order to ensure that each player has equal opportunity to go first, to go last, to skip the forced bets, and to be obliged to put up the forced bets. And…In a home game and some relaxed forms of tournaments, the player with The Button deals the hand.
- When play begins at a table, The Button is placed in front of the player who is dealt the card with the highest value during the pre-play action by the dealer.
- The Button moves in front of a new player at the end of each hand.
- If there is no player sitting in a seat, The Button moves to the next seat where there is a player.
- The Button moves clockwise around the table.
- The Button never resets. It continues a natural clockwise flow.
- When there is no professional dealer, the player with The Button deals the hand.
- All action (cards being dealt, betting, folding, etc.) occurs in a clockwise fashion.