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Burning a Card

Burn and Turn - Burn Card

by Jesse Knight
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Burn Card
Burn - The top card which protects the deck between dealer actions. It is placed face down and discarded, so that the subsequent protected card can be delivered.


Before poker was main stream, it was played in back rooms and basements. There were no cameras or security, and cheating was relatively common. Much of the cheating was done by mechanics (dealers skilled at sleight of hand techniques), who could covertly manipulate the deck while the hand was in play. To counter this, procedures regarding the handling of the deck were developed.

It is relatively easy for a mechanic to manipulate the card on top of the deck and the card on the bottom of the deck without being detected. The cards in between are much, much harder to work with. Dealers are required to cover the bottom of the deck with a cut card. After the initial deal, the top of the deck is protected by “the burn” card. The burn card never plays, rather its job is to cover and protect the next cards down which do play. Every time a betting round is complete, the burn card is removed from the top of the deck and placed face down and out of play on the table, so that the live cards underneath may be delivered.

Most flop games, like Hold’em, will burn three cards during the course of the hand. The first card burned will be prior to the delivery of the flop, the second prior to the turn, and the third prior to the river. A Seven Card Stud game will have four burn cards, one each for fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh streets. These burn cards are not exposed; they are spread out face down so they can be counted and are kept separate from the muck.

In a flop game, if a dealer exposes a card during the initial deal, he first completes the deal and then replaces the exposed card with the burn card. The exposed card is placed face up on top of the deck for all players to see, and is used to protect the deck and replace the burn. The exposed card is treated just like a burn card. After the betting, and before the next cards are delivered, the exposed burn is placed face down in the burn pile.

Usage: Exposed Burn, Burn And Turn

Previous Poker Term: Bump
Next Poker Term: Busted

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