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Combing out a couple pesky cockleburrs

14 October 2005

Dear Mark,
I have a couple poker questions that have started arguments at our house poker game. Hopefully you can clear them up for me.

Question 1: We had a player, a relatively new guy to poker playing, get excited and show us his pocket cards before we all were allowed to bet. Some of us agreed that him showing his cards only ruined things for himself, but two of the players demanded that the rules say the hand is called a misdeal and that we re-deal. I claimed that since the player, not the dealer, revealed the cards prematurely, that we should continue the hand as normal, and the rest of us would just have the advantage over the other player. But these two guys insisted that the rules stated the hand is re-dealt. To prove his case faulty, the very next hand when I knew I was losing, I flipped my cards over and said, "Re-deal." What are the rules in this case?

Question 2: This problem, I believe stems from the fact that people are learning poker from watching "The World Series of Poker,” and view that show as the end-all when it comes to the rules for poker. My question pertains to the "burning" of cards. Is that a World Series of Poker rule or typical casino policy? Doug F.

In stud or flop games, if the pocket card(s) that are dealt face down to each player are inadvertently exposed due to a dealer error, the card(s) is ruled dead, that is, not legally playable.

But your question deals with a player who intentionally exposes his cards during play. No misdeal here, Doug. It’s free ammo for all the other players on the game. I state “all” because if any player at the table sees an exposed card(s), all the other players have a right to know what the exposed card or cards were. Even if a player unintentionally exposes his cards during play, his hand will still not be ruled dead, and again, if any player at the table saw the exposed card(s), then every other player at the table has the right to know what the exposed card(s) was. The reasoning behind this rule is to avoid players in collusion from privately showing cards to one another.

As for burning cards, Doug, that’s called burn and turn, where the function of the poker dealer is to burn a card before the draw cards (the flop, the turn, and the river) are distributed. It’s commonplace in all casinos and card rooms and it is done to prevent cheating.

Dear Mark,
I had the biggest bet of my life ($100) on the pass line when the dealer called out, “Seven out, line away.” My gripe is that one dice was leaning against the wall and not laying flat. It looked to me that it could have been any of three possible outcomes, not the three that he paired with the other dice that was a four. Was I robbed of my $100? Ken L.


Sorry, Ken, three/four, and now you’re poor. Your pass line Benjamin belongs to the casino.

Dice that end up leaning against the wall or gaming chips are called cocked dice. A stickman will make his or her call based on the natural lean of the cocked die as if the intruding object were taken away. Of course, you can challenge a stickman’s expertise, but most are skilled at making the correct call to a fault.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." --Captain Louis Renault, "Casablanca"

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Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.