What is ‘Wash’?
Wash is an alternative name for the word shuffle. If you ask someone to wash the deck, then you are simply asking them to shuffle it.
A player might ask for a wash if they feel their most recent run of cards has been poor. Short of card counting, there is no real way to know what will come next, but poker players will tend to be almost superstitious in their ways and make correlations that simply are not there in many cases.
The full art of washing involves shuffling the deck and then distributing it amongst players. This can sometimes be one player or everyone at the table. There’s a lot of ways in which a dealer can shuffle the cards, simply moving them in and out of each other at random isn’t the only option available. Experienced dealers who work at famous houses will likely utilise special techniques to not only offer a thorough shuffle but also add some atmosphere to the event. The riffle shuffle, the pharaoh shuffle, the fancy pivot cut, the dynamo shuffle/Sybil cut etc… There are a wide array of ways to mix up a deck, all while dazzling players with impressive skill.
There are psychological aspects to a wash. As mentioned, a lot of players showcase almost superstitious behaviour and after suffering a cold run of cards and the low feeling that comes with them witnessing a wash can feel like a new start.
The change in card order will no doubt change the outcome for everyone around the table, including the player who requested the shuffle, but there’s simply no way to know if it will be for better or worse.
For all the player in question knows, the next card on top could have filled in a gap to form a ‘flush’, but then again it could have just been another worthless addition to their deck.