Poker's Hidden Rule: The Preference for Right-Handed Dealers
In offline poker, especially in television broadcasts, there is an unspoken ban on left-handed dealers. The reason is that poker itself is designed for right-handed people. Playing cards are made with suits and dots in the upper left and lower right corners, which is convenient when looking at cards when you are right-handed, but lefties in such situations see nothing but white empty space. Also, the left-handed dealer blocks the flop with his own hand when he unfolds the board.
That is why for many years there was an unofficial ban on left-handed dealers from working at the final tables that were broadcast on television, and even more so at the WSOP Main Event. The first to break the rule was North Korean Nathan DeLand, who became the first non-right-handed dealer to deal the final table of a WSOP Main Event in 2016.
"Then I was very nervous. I have dealt with feature tables before, but nothing like this scene," he recalls. "There were nine people at the table at that time, playing for millions of dollars. My nerves were on edge, but once I settled into my seat, everything went pretty well."
In fact, it was a historical event, because before that no one believed that a leftie could become a successful dealer. Many tried to relearn how to work at a desk as a right-handed person.
"I tried to learn it too, but it felt very unnatural," DeLand said. "The way I had to twist my arm was really uncomfortable."
So DeLand stayed true to himself and just tried to get better at what he did. And he succeeded. He was recognized as the dealer of the year at the WSOP 2016, and from 2017 he began working as a floor at the World Series of Poker. Today DeLand is the tournament director of the World Poker Tour Seminole Rock 'N' Roll Poker Open.