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What is ‘Muck’?

The term 'muck' has a few different meanings in gambling; in the game of poker, it may refer to a stack of discarded playing cards where players leave their folded hands and where the dealer can bin burned cards. Muck can also be used as a verb to describe the act of discarding a hand of cards. When a player folds, they place their hand of cards face down, usually without speaking. In actual fact, a hand is not folded until it lands on the muck. Until this happens and the dealer has taken the hand, it can be still taken back and used.

‘Muck’ Explained

The system of 'mucking' cards that a player wants to discard (i.e. placing them face down on a discard pile) helps to ensure that no other players are able to determine what cards appeared in the folded hand. Muck may also apply to what a player who has not folded may experience. They may describe having their hand 'mucked' when another player attempts to discard but some of their cards then turn up in the live player's hand. To try to combat this, some players will put a chip or object over their cards, thus preventing other cards from appearing in their hand - otherwise known as a card protector, card guard or card cover.An alternative, less well-known meaning for the term mucking refers to a type of sleight of hand which, when used in a wagered card game, constitutes cheating. A player may conceal a card using sleight of hand, taking it out of play until they want to return it back into play for their own advantage. For instance, a blackjack player may conceal an ace to then play if he is dealt a ten, forming a 'blackjack'.