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Skinning the Hand

What is 'Skinning the Hand'?

In poker, 'skinning' means removing cards from the deck or marking them for later use - a form of cheating. 'Skinning the hand' is a phrase which comes from this. It means that a player has removed cards from their hand which were unwanted, perhaps to replace them with others which are concealed elsewhere or to save them for later use in the game. 'Skinning the hand' requires sleight of hand skills, as the cards must be discarded without the cheating player being caught out.

'Skinning the Hand' Explained

In casino gaming, play is managed in such a way that cheating becomes very difficult. However, casual games or unmanaged games might experience cheating from players. Skinning the hand is a form of cheating which involves marking cards, or more usually removing them for the deck entirely. Skinning might be done by a corrupt dealer, or by a player during the game. Dealers need to watch closely for players who are trying to 'skin the hand'. They might remove cards from the game completely (often coupled with card counting strategies) or they might save a strong card for later use.Skinning the hand refers to discarding cards from an existing hand, in order to gain an advantage. Skinning might also occur when a new deck is first introduced if a player can get access to it. Casinos themselves might skin the hand - that is, make certain cards unavailable to players in order to raise the house edge. However, this is not permitted by gambling regulators. 'Skinning' should not be confused with 'stripping', which is the legal and often-practiced process of removing cards from the deck for the purpose of playing certain games. Stripping is done by the dealer with full knowledge of the players, and it happens to make certain games play faster and more smoothly.
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