What Is Mucking In Poker?
Muck is a term used in the poker world to describe a number of different aspects of the game. The most common use is in describing the pile of cards that are formed when players fold their hands, or when the dealer burns cards during the dealing process. This pile is always kept separate from the play deck, and is referred to simply as the muck.
When a player folds, it can also be referred to that he is mucking the hand. It is considered standard practice that the cards are mucked face down, and added to the muck pile. In some poker groups it is a rule that another player may pay to see the cards, if it is agreed to by the person who has folded. This is, however, not standard practice in professional tournaments, and players consider it extremely important to keep mucked cards face down, as it may give clues to their playing strategy. In other circles a player may request to see the cards, simply by allowing the round to finish and asking.
Rules Of Muck
It is not commonly known that a hand is not officially mucked until it has been added to the muck pile. Any hand that is placed face down on a table may again be picked up by the player at any time, and play resumed. This is why a dealer must immediately add a mucked hand to the pile, as soon as the player declares that he has folded.
This rule was to avoid any confusion as to when a player was, or was not, officially folding. It has, however, caused confusion in some professional games, as it is generally thought that if a player throws his hand down, it is a sign that he has decided to fold. It is also not commonly known that if a discarded card, for whatever reason, makes its way into a face down hand that is in play, it officially makes that hand void, and the player is required to draw a new hand. This is why some professional players cover their hand of cards with a chip, or other object, which will prevent errant cards from making contact with, or entering their hand. The object is referred to as a card guard, and is allowed in professional games.
Other Terms For Muck
The term may also refer to an illegal act in poker playing. An unscrupulous player may secretly remove a card from their hand, conceal it, and return it to the hand when it is beneficial. For example, a player may remove an ace from their hand, and return it to the hand later when they have drawn an ace, creating a pair of aces.
This is referred to as mucking the card, and is obviously considered one of the more despicable things to do during games of poker. In times of old it was not uncommon for a person who cheated in poker in this fashion, and was caught, to be severely beaten or even killed. Today, however, heating is far less likely, especially in casinos that have advanced security systems. If a person were caught, however, the would likely simply be banned from gambling establishments for life.