What is the basic concept in a public card room, when cards "touch the muck"? Are they dead? Always, sometimes?
I am a floor person for 20 years in Atlantic City, California and Las Vegas and multiple other jurisdictions. This is the most misunderstood rule in public poker:
"Touching the muck" literally doesn't mean anything in any casino, at least in America. It is a weird situation because most dealers, and some floor people don't understand this rule, although I've never met a card room manager who got it wrong.
In every situation in a casino, if the cards are "retrievable" they are live. Retrievable means when the floor person walks over to the table, the dealer can say he is certain these are the player's cards. It's not up to the players to decide if the cards hit the muck or not. Often there is a dispute between the players.
Now if the dealer says the player "folded", in any way, they are dead. This might be because the player intentionally mucked his cards, said "fold", was skipped after significant action are many other reasons [cards left the felt, too few or too many cards etc.]
This is important because there are MANY situations when as a floor person I have had to pull cards out of the muck. One of the most common situation is when everyone agrees the dealer accidentally mucked the player's live cards. In this case, casinos have been known to allow the player to play "on the honor system", in other words the player will wisper the cards in the floor person's ear, and then the floor sifts through the muck to retrieve his cards. I have seen this DOZENS of times in my career.
Anyway, the point is, in a casino cards "touching the muck" literally means nothing. Have fun!