Ruling! #1 – Is a Mucked Hand a Dead Hand?

By Kelli Mix | May 8, 2009

The Scenario

I was playing in a poker tournament against an aggressive opponent who was on the button when I was in the big blind. All the players folded to him and he raised enough to put me and the small blind all-in. The small blind folded and I pushed my chips in, calling with AsQh. The button player swore and then immediately mucked his hand face-down. The dealer grabbed his cards right as they touched the muck and turned his Jd2s face-up! Against my protest, the dealer proceeded to run out the hand and the board came 5s8d2dKc9s. I called the floor over. Now that he ended up with a winning hand, my opponent of course said he thought I folded pre-flop, but it was obvious that was a lie. The floor ruled that the winning pair of two’s stood up. Regardless of whether he thought I called or folded, I thought a mucked hand was a dead hand?

Kelli’s Ruling

No, contrary to popular belief, a mucked hand is not always a dead hand. The folded hand in this situation is a retrievable hand. The dealer was able to clearly identify the mucked cards and in order to prohibit collusion or chip-dumping, he made a correct decision to turn up the cards and run out the hand even though your opponent was clearly conceding the hand out of irritation of being called. Now you can focus on being mad about your real issue – the bad beat.

By Kelli Mix

Kelli is the author of the 'Game Day Poker Almanac - Official Rules of Poker'. She lives in Carrollton, Georgia, where she is the state director for the Poker Players Alliance.


One Response to “Ruling! #1 – Is a Mucked Hand a Dead Hand?”

  1. Jimulacrum
    July 28, 2012 at 3:29 am

    I have to disagree with this ruling. A player is entitled to fold his cards at any point in the hand, no matter how foolish. If there is a reason to suspect collusion or chip-dumping, that is an issue to be dealt with separately (e.g., by removing players from the game).

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