When you muck your hand, it's dead, and your chips are gone. Even if you didn't mean to, even if you're still in the action, and even if you have a winner. I've seen some casinos where all it takes is a forward motion towards the muck, and they take your cards.
But the Palace in Hayward has a different rule that saved my ass today.
It was late in the tournament with 6 players left at the final table. I went all-in with 4-4, looking at the guy in seat 9 for a fold. I thought he was the last to act, so when he folded I threw in my cards and got ready to collect the blinds.
The whole table bellows "uh oh.....floor man, get over here!".
That's because the big blind was actually in seat #1 and had not acted yet. My cards were in the muck, and the obvious outcome would be that seat #1 wins without even having to call.
But lucky for me....it was still obvious which two cards in the muck had come from me. They were, as they said "retrievable" from the muck. So the floor man said I could have my cards back. Seat #1 guy was bummed, but he then folded and I won his blind.
He was soon knocked out and we chopped at the final 5. That could have gone entirely differently if the ruling had been different. Whew!