Originally Posted by DK Barrel
You should always make an effort to retrieve 'improperly' mucked hands in the interest of the game.
The hands were not mucked improperly, quotation marks or not. The hands were mucked as per a normal part of the poker process.
If player 2's neighbor had seen his hand (and the straight) and informed the table of it after it was mucked, no one would justify going back to retrieve it. This is no different from someone pointing out there is a side pot after the hands were mucked. Therefore, the main pot should be awarded to player 3.
The question remains of the side pot. There are no active hands remaining. As both hands are retrievable, the floor has two options: split the side pot; or allow the two retrievable hands to be tabled. I would lean towards splitting the side pot, as we are talking about a relatively small amount of $ and it keeps a reasonable level of fairness for all parties.
If the latter option is chosen (as was the case here), yes, it would result in dual rulings that possibly contradict each other. But the interest of protecting the integrity of the game goes in two different directions when dealing with (a) the main pot and (b) the side pot, so it is justifiable.