Ok so here is the scenario that played out for me last night, there were three players in the hand preflop. Player 1 pushes all in, player 2 folds, I am going to call...but, player one mucks his hand and then rakes in the pot. I think that because I was still live in the hand I should have been the winner but it was argued that since he did not see me across the table that he was. Who is correct?
Any dealer whom has been in industry for a year plus will have had this happen at least once (generalising I know, but it's common enough). So often I find myself posting the same thing when it comes to these situations, and the answer is it depends. There are kind of three main types of scenarios in general when these things can happen.
- So you said player 1 mucked his hand, but did that hand touch the muck pile or did that player clearly and verbally announce fold? If not sorry that hand is live. Every floorstaff I have seen has ruled it as live. Now the floor may attach some extra conditions here to combat angle-shooting or collusion such as the player may now only call action, that'll very much depend on the rules of the place and how the floor wants to rule the situation.
- So the tricky part of this and where these situations can vary to some degree on places you play are when the hand touches the muck. Personally if it's in the muck it's dead, it's not the dealers job to protect the players hands. However I have seen some places take hands out of the muck if easily recoverable, i.e. they are literally right on the top of the muck. I have seen this type of stuff in local cardrooms where regular players are known extremely well by staff and are essentially cut a bit of slack.
- In cases where the dealer mucks the players hand, i.e. takes the hand by mistake I've seen floors recover the cards if easily recoverable and things move on as if nothing happens.
Now in your situation, as I said, it is not the dealers job to protect a players hand, for me I would have clarified with the player they want to fold, but that's me. Given that it's not the dealers job to protect the hand, and if the hand touch the muck, sorry player 1 pay more attention next hand.
TL;DR cards touched the muck, most of the time they're dead no questions about it, cards didn't touch the muck they're still alive.