Poker Term of the Week: Burn

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BURN – To discard the top card in the deck before dealing

To discourage cheaters, dealers will often ‘burn,’ or discard, the top card of the deck before dealing. This card is removed from play for the duration of the game.

Burning is typically done to discourage a form of cheating known as card marking. The dealer will burn the top card of the deck prior to each betting round to ensure that a player who may have created or read any markings from the card in the previous rounds cannot recognize it and use that information to his or her advantage.

It also aims to discourage another cheating practice known as “second dealing.” Second dealing is the practice of dealing the second card in the deck instead of the first. The dealer may then save the first card (which is known to the dealer) and can deal it to a specific player. Burning the first card removes the card from play entirely.

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