A down is the period of time that a professional dealer spends dealing at a single table, before moving on to another table in what is generally a standard rotation through the poker room. Downs are generally 30 minutes long, though a few poker rooms have shorter (20 minute) or longer (60 minute) downs. Note that a down is different than a dealer's shift, which may last 8-9 hours.
Some players believe in tipping a dealer on a per-down basis (usually at the end of the dealer's down) rather than using the more traditional per-won-pot basis.
Poker rooms rotate dealers among their tables for a number of reasons:
- To alleviate monotony and boredom among the dealers
- To reduce opportunities for collusion between a player and the dealer
- Since the dealer is only at the player's table for 30 minutes, it would be difficult for the dealer to set up marked cards or a cold deck for a particular player, and even if they did, it could be used for at most 30 minutes before another dealer replaced them. Since the cards are left at the table for the next dealer to use, it would be more difficult for a dealer/player combo to work out some regular scam to fleece other players than it would be if the dealer were a permanent fixture at the table.
- To reduce friction between players and dealers
- Some superstitious players believe that certain delaers are unlucky for them, or worse, actually believe the dealer is conspiring against them. Since the dealer is only at their table for 30 minutes, the situation is generally never spun out of control; players can even take a walk and hold their seat for most of a dealer's down if they so desire.
- To provide a simple method for rotating dealers into regular breaks
- Generally, dealers are scheduled through a rotation of a number of tables followed by a break. This rotation is usually written on a whiteboard or communicated through some other easy-to-change means to the dealers in the room, so they know that after they reach Table 7 (for example), they will next go on break for a full down, after which they come back on at Table 1.