How Important is the Burn Card in Blackjack?

At most casinos the dealer must “burn” the first card of a shoe by placing it directly in the discard tray before any cards are dealt.  In Atlantic City the Blackjack - Burn Card in Discard Trayburn card is usually shown before it’s taken out of play, but what about when the burn card isn’t revealed?  This  seems to cause angst for some blackjack players (“that could have been my ace”), but what  impact does it really have on the game?  For the vast majority of blackjack players who aren’t keeping track of the count, it has no effect whatsoever.  From a card counting perspective, when the dealer burns a card  it’s equivalent to moving the cut card up by one.  For example, if the cut card is placed at a deck and a half (78 cards), the burn card effectively moves the cut card to 79 cards. There’s simply one more unknown card. For both card counters and the average gambler, the impact is insignificant at best.

If burning the first card doesn’t serve as an effective measure against card counting, why do casinos employ this practice?  The purpose of burning a card is to protect against the steering of the top card.  If a card is exposed when the cards are presented to players to cut, the exposed card can be cut into play.  Steering an ace to your self is worth a whopping 51% in expected win.  Cutting a ten to self is worth a not too shabby 14%.  Card steering is completely legal if the card information is obtained due to the dealer unknowingly exposing a card.  The illegal acquisition of card information is what casinos are really concerned about. Cheaters can mark tens and aces, making them recognizable when they end up at the top of the shoe.  There’s also the possibility of collusion with the dealer who either flashes the top card to fellow accomplices, or peaks at it and then passes on the information. The bottom line is, even if you’re counting there’s no need to fret about an unseen burn card.  Essentially,  all the dealer is doing is moving the cut card up by one.


  1. Burning a card can change the outcome of the cards tremendously. I mean burning a card when another dealer comes in. 90% of the time if you were winning, it will stop. The dealer usually gets blackjacks and 20’s

  2. Francisco says:

    I found a casino with great, rules 5 dexks and more that 90% deck penetration. However, The dealer burns the first 10 cards. Does still impact card counting in a negative way?

  3. After shuffling, dealer takes out first card from the shoe and based on the value of the card he burs out those many number of cards.
    Eg: After shuffling dealer takes out first card from shoe and if the value of the card is 5, then he removes 5 more cards from the shoe.
    I want to know how this will affect the card counting

  4. Greyling says:

    If. I called a card and dealer didn’t present it and took it for her hand what is the rules

  5. Mike Aponte says:

    If you only verbally asked for a card, then it is the casino’s discretion as to whether you can back out of the hand retroactively (assuming you lost the hand). If you did give a clear hand signal to hit, then there is a much greater probablity that you will have the option to back out of the hand after the fact. The dealer may realize that he/she did hit your hand properly. And if the dealer does not remember you giving the hit signal, then it may be possible to have the casino review the video of the table for confirmation.

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