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Tournament Directors


You are the Tournament Director Series 4: Another Mucked Hand Ruling

This was posted by ‘PLAYERS LOUNGE’ on the Mob Forum:

Tourney 200 players 18 left

I am in a pot with AK on a K28 flop after calling a raise pre flop against player with 8k less than me.

He bets 3k into a pot of 30k and I reraise to 20k leaving him only 1k when he calls, (I expected a fold or all in)

The turn bricks, he checks and I bet 1000 and he calls 1000 all in.


Dealer takes his cards from the muck and turns them over K7 and then deals a 7 on the river.

Dealer says that the hand cannot be dead when all in, but the fact that they touched other mucked cards and he walked off ‘til coming back when river hit is this correct?

If the 7 never came it wouldn’t matter but was a big pot at a big time of the tourney.

Anyone know the correct ruling?

Matt SavageMatt Savage:
Tournament Directors Association #33 states
33. Face Up
All cards will be turned face up once a player is all-in and all betting action is complete.

Therefore the dealer was correct in turning up the cards and the hand is live. If the dealer had mucked it the player would have then had no right to claim the pot.

There has been some debate as to whether a player should be able to muck but as the hand currently is it is to be exposed AND live.

Thomas KremserThomas Kremser:
The dealer was correct when he said that an All-in hand has to be shown face up and by his dealing procedures he is actually supposed to protect the muck. He should have freeze the action and called over the TD to decide if the mucked cards are dead or not. If the cards were definitely in the muck they will be dead.

Jack EffelJack Effel:
WSOP Rules state, “All cards will be turned face up once a player is all in and all action is complete. If a player accidentally folds/mucks before cards are turned up, the tournament staff reserves the right to retrieve the folded/mucked cards if the cards are clearly identifiable.” In this case, the cards were retrievable even though they touched the muck. The dealer was correct, but should have called the floor to make the ruling.

Nicolas FraioliNicolas Fraioli:
This player by throwing his cards in the muck decided to kill his hand. There is no way to retrieve his cards from the muck. Players shouldn’t leave the table when there all in or muck their hands. For other players it’s unfair and it could be a kind of collusion. It happened to me one time in a tournament I was ruling. It was a 10 handed table. There is a raise before the flop, only two players left. The flop: A23 of clubs. Both of the players go all in on the flop. One of the players turns over his hand and shows KJ of clubs and the second player directly muck his cards saying he was drawing dead. The dealer called me and I told him that the hand was dead and told him to finish the board. Turns comes 4 of clubs River 5 of clubs. The player who mucked his hand told me that’s a split pot and tried to explain to me that he mucked his hand because he had a queen high flush. By mucking his hand he decided to surrender the pot.

Dave SimpsonDave Simpson:
During an all-in all cards must be exposed. However this does not mean the hand can not be killed. If the player passes his cards face down and they touch the muck his hand is dead, if the player passes his cards face down without touching the muck the dealer touches the cards on the muck killing the hand and then exposes them, the pot is then awarded to AK.

Tab DuchateauTab Duchateau:
An all in player must show their hand down to prevent collusion. The dealer was right and the winning hand should receive the chips.

The Mob Verdict

There are a few parts to this. If it were a cash game then the player is entitled to muck his hand at anytime and the dealer should not turn the hand over whether it has been mucked or not. In a tournament situation, as this is, it can be very different.

Firstly when players are all-in during a tournament it is an almost universal rule that cards should be turned face up and the remaining communal cards dealt. If the hands are live the dealer should therefore turn over all hands contesting the pot. Thomas K says the dealer should actually ‘protect the muck’ to stop a player mucking his hand when all-in.

There is then the question of ‘the muck’. A hand can be dead by simply ‘touching the muck’ and often is in many circumstances. In this instance however, providing as Jack says the cards are ‘clearly identifiable’ then the hand is not dead and should be turned over. In an all-in situation on the river it is only natural that the best hand should receive the pot.

Matt points out that there is some debate between poker professionals as to whether a player is allowed to muck his hand or not. The card room should have a clear rule and providing this is enforced consistently we are happy either way.

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