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What is a burn card and why is it dealt?

Author: Michael Maurer
Last updated: 1996
Copyright © 2004 Michael Maurer
The official and up-to-date version of this answer is here.

A burn card is a card dealt face down at the beginning of a round, before any other cards are dealt. This card is not used in the play of the hand. The main reason for this custom is to guard against marked cards. If the cards are marked, a player who can read the backs will know what the top card on the deck is. In a flop-game like Hold'em or Omaha, knowledge of the next board card is extremely profitable. Knowledge of which card it will *not* be is slightly useful, but much less so.