probability and dealing Texas Hold'Em

I was at this game last weekend, and we took turns dealing. One of the guys (there was like 8 of us), dealt differently than the others. He sometimes burned 3 cards before the flop, sometimes 5. On the turn, he would usually burn more than one. On the river, he almost always burned no cards.

Does this non-norm way to deal change the probabilities? People were fine with it, but one guy, in particular, kept getting burned. The final straw was when this odd dealer dealt normal until the last card, where he didn’t burn anything. It gave one player a three of a kind, and the card that would have come up (if dealt normal) would’ve given the other guy a flush (otherwise, he had two pair). Needless to say, with that large of a pot, a fight ensued.

I remember in stat class thinking that this should not affect the outcome of the game b/c it is all still random. However, the watching this guy get burned like 5 times by the same dealer, well…I sort of feel for the guy.

Your assumption that the random burning of cards should not favour any player feels absolutely right. That said I have never seen anyone burn more than one per card dealt on the flop.

BTW a GOOD mechanic might just be able to pull off a scam with this, but if they were that good there are plenty of other less visible ways to cheat.

I am sure that a stato will be along shortly, however if they don’t understand poker lingo, burning flop cards may not make much sense :slight_smile:

Ther reason that cards are burned is to prevent someone from using marked cards, it has nothing to do with probabilities. How the hands are delt is typically a house rule and isn’t part of the rules of the game, but these things should be agreed upon before the game starts to avoid just these sorts of disputes.

Obviously how hands are delt will affect who gets what cards, but so does ordinary game play like who folds and who stays in. It is all still random.

From a statistical point of view, the number of burn cards makes no difference in the outcome. I would have a one burn card only rule just to keep the peace though.


Ooops, sorry. In hold’em folding doesn’t affect what cards come up. Also, if there was going to be an objection about how soemone deals, it needs to be addressed the first time it happens, not down the line just because you got burned by the luck of the draw.

By burning extra cards, it does change the probabilities in that the pool of available cards is affected, but as long as none of the players know anything more than what cards they hold and what cards are showing on the table, game play is not changed as I see it.

You need a four to fill your straight. You have no way of knowing if other fours are in your other players hands or if they have been burned. It seems to me that burning extra cards is essentially like dealing an extra hand to someone who folds immediately. It changes things the same way that playing with ten people is different from playing with six.

I would have told the guy to quit screwing around the first time he tried his unconventional deal. I suspect he was just trying to be cute or be an a-hole and rattle other players.

If no one has any knowledge of what cards are being burned, then it doesn’t affect anything. They pile is all unknown cards, so it doesn’t make a difference if you draw the top 3, or draw 3 randomly from the deck.

You should, however, establish some sort of rules because people tend to get overly superstitious about such things and that can create disputes. It’s like in blackjack - and a guy hits 19… and busts, and then everyone at the table gets mad at him because he’s somehow screwing up their mojo or whatever. Completely stupid, and completely common from what I understand.

Also, if the cards are marked, someone who wanted certain cards to come up could use the seemingly random amount of burn cards to find a card to his liking to turn up.

That’s why dealers don’t play a hand that turn.

It doesn’t change the possibilities, but since he wasn’t using the same number of cards each time, it sure as hell raises the possibility he was cheating. Let him burn as many cards as he wants- but he always has to burn the exact same amount every draw.

For public card rooms, the rule is burn exactly one. There are other rules governing complete misdeals, and initial deals where a player’s card replaces the burn card. Permitting multiple burns encourages the use of marked cards.

I think that the dealer should burn one, and only one card each time. But I also think that players should not be permitted to see the burned cards, even after the hand is over. In your case all it did was allow the losing player to think he was cheated.