Cut cards: a simple but effective way to ensure game integrity

If you’re dealing or hosting a card game of any sort, especially one with money riding on it, it’s always a good idea to use a cut card. A cut card is a heavy, opaque plastic card the same size as the deck of cards you’re using (they are available in both poker and bridge size). They are available in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, green, and blue. They are inexpensive; you can pick up a pack of five of them for less than two dollars.

What do you use a cut card for? Simply put, it protects your game by shielding the bottom card of the deck from the players’ eyes. This may not seem like a major concern, but imagine you are playing poker, and one of your players sees the queen of hearts on the bottom of the deck. Knowing that this card will not come into play, that player has an advantage over their opponents—they know that heart flushes are slightly less likely to occur, all pairs, trips, straights, and full houses involving queens are less likely, and four-of-a-kinds, straight flushes, and royal flushes involving the queen of hearts are impossible. That’s a lot of free information! That player is less likely to hold on to a pair of queens in their hand because they know that they will never get quads, and their chances of getting three of a kind are halved.

So, if you get a cut card, how do you use it? When it’s time to cut, just sit it next to the deck, textured side up, and instruct the person cutting the cards to place the cut portion of the deck onto the cut card. When you complete the cut, you will have a ready-to-deal deck of cards, with the cut card on the bottom of the deck, protecting the bottom card. Couldn’t be simpler!

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