Thanks to the Internet, we’re immersed in a world full of conspiracy theories. These theories often target governments, big corporations, and various other institutions. Online poker is no exception, with some claiming that the entire system is rigged. However, the reality is that online poker is not rigged. Rigorous regulatory checks and third-party audits ensure the integrity of the games. Like any industry, there are outliers, but the major platforms are committed to fair play and maintaining trust with their players. It’s essential to differentiate between individual bad experiences and a systematic issue. Most claims of rigging stem from misunderstanding game mechanics or from players’ frustrations, rather than any genuine malfeasance.

The Typical Skeptic

Visit any online poker forum or engage in chat during a game, and you’re bound to encounter “Mr. Angry.” This person is often either fresh off a bad beat or has seen their chips vanish due to poor play. Despite this, they’re convinced the game is rigged—and not just the site they’re using, but the entire world of online poker.

Rational Thought Versus Irrational Claims

For the majority of poker enthusiasts—and anyone thinking rationally—the idea that online poker providers would jeopardize a successful business model is ludicrous. Nevertheless, since these concerns persist, it’s important to address them for the sake of clarity and truth.

There are too many monster hands

The Surprise Factor for New Online Poker Players

New online poker players, particularly those whose experience is mostly with casual games among friends, may find themselves surprised at the frequency of ‘big hands’ in the online environment.

Comparing Hand Volume: Online vs. In-Person

The contrast is stark when comparing the volume of hands played. At a friend’s kitchen table, you might only go through a few dozen hands in a month. Online, however, players can go through hundreds of hands per hour. Naturally, this increases the occurrence of strong and even monster hands, making them far more common online than in home games.

Seasoned Players Are Unfazed

For experienced pro’s, what might seem extraordinary—like flushes or straights—is almost routine and barely noticeable. When players are handling multiple tables simultaneously, they should expect to encounter numerous monster hands throughout a session.

The Role of Long-Term Play

In essence, the more you play, the less surprising these “rare” hands become. The appearance of hands like quads (four of a kind) ceases to be surprising. It’s crucial to recognize that this is all part of the expected distribution over time and shouldn’t raise any suspicions.

Some players always win

The Nature of Extreme Results in Online Poker

With a large player base in online poker, extreme results at both ends of the spectrum are inevitable. Some players will experience bad beats and bad luck within short periods, while others might find fortune smiling upon them unexpectedly.

The Role of Variance: Highs and Lows Are Inevitable

It’s a staple of poker that players will, over time, experience both the highs and lows that come with the game’s inherent variability or “Lady Luck.” These fluctuations can be frustrating and might seem unfair in the short term, but they are part and parcel of the game.

Misunderstanding Probability: ‘Unlucky’ Players

Players who feel that they’ve been “too unlucky” often overlook a key mathematical principle: variance. This misunderstanding can lead to irrational and negative reactions, especially when they consistently lose to the same opponents.

The Fallacy of Short-Term Results

Just because you’re statistically favored in a specific situation, say a 70% favorite, doesn’t mean you’ll win 7 out of 10 hands. Poker is a game of both skill and chance, and short-term results may not reflect long-term probabilities. If you only win 3 out of 10 hands despite being a favorite, that doesn’t indicate the game is rigged. It’s just how variance works in the short term.

No Cause for Suspicion

These ups and downs shouldn’t lead you to think that the game is rigged or that you should be suspicious, especially when encountering a repeated series of bad luck against the same opponents. It’s all part of the game’s natural variability.

Online poker rooms use RNGs (Random Number Generators) to guarantee random card distribution so that outcome of every single hand literally is a random event. RNG technology is incredibly sophisticated and impossible to manipulate, and to provide even further security there are stringent, equally advanced checks by the same regulators and licensors that monitor financial institutions.

RNG Audits

While the original text does mention that online poker rooms use RNGs, adding that these RNGs are subjected to rigorous, independent audits would bolster the claim that online poker is fair. Independent, third-party companies check to ensure that the RNGs are functioning as they should, which adds an additional layer of security and transparency. These audits usually check for biases, predictability, and proper randomness. In many jurisdictions, regular audits are not just best practices but legal requirements.

No Financial Incentive

The text does briefly touch on the point that poker rooms make their money from rakes and fees, not from who wins or loses. However, explicitly stating that there’s no financial incentive for online poker rooms to rig games can be a compelling point. Rigging the game would put their entire business at risk. Trust is an essential component of online gaming; once it’s compromised, a poker site could see its customer base evaporate overnight.

Furthermore, for the poker provider it does not at all matter whether Player A, Player B, Player C or, indeed, who wins – the revenue from rake or fees remains the same. For example, let’s take a look at a Sit & Go Tournament that has 10 players, with each buying in for $10 plus a $1 fee. With $10 from everyone contributing to the pot, this leaves $100 in the prize pool. Importantly, the poker room receives its profit in the shape of the 10 $1 tournament fees BEFORE a card is dealt! Whoever goes on to win is totally irrelevant and has no link whatsoever to how the provider accumulates profit.

Reputation Damage

Any proven instance of a game being rigged would not just lead to the loss of players but would also almost certainly result in severe legal consequences, possibly including the revocation of licenses. The reputational damage would also make it difficult, if not impossible, to re-enter the market or operate in other related spheres.

After a cashout you always lose

The Myth of the ‘Cashout Curse’ in Online Poker

A common misconception in the “is poker rigged?” debate is that withdrawing money from your poker account triggers a subsequent losing streak, a phenomenon often dubbed the “Cashout Curse.” The theory posits that poker rooms aim to reclaim withdrawn money through bad beats and bad luck.

The Impossibility of Linking Withdrawals and Card Dealing

This claim is unfounded. Poker rooms cannot link withdrawal actions with the cards that are dealt afterwards. The systems are separate and have no influence on one another.

Multi-Platform Accounts: No Scope for ‘Punishment’

Many poker rooms, like CoralPoker, offer accounts that can be used across various platforms—be it poker, sports betting, or casino games. When you withdraw money, it’s just a transaction that could come from any service, not specifically from poker. Therefore, linking a withdrawal to future bad luck in poker doesn’t make sense.

Networked Poker Rooms: Another Nail in the Coffin for the ‘Cashout Curse’

Most online poker rooms are part of larger networks, such as GGPOker-Network, which includes GGPoker and Natural8. This network structure makes it even more implausible for individual rooms to share withdrawal information that would affect gameplay. It would also mean other players would need to be artificially given ‘good’ results to balance things out, which is highly unlikely.

The Role of Variance: Don’t Ignore It

Lastly, variance is a fundamental aspect of poker that can’t be ignored. Trying to explain away your losses by claiming the game is rigged is a misunderstanding of how variance works. Instead of blaming a non-existent “cashout curse,” it’s crucial to acknowledge the natural ebbs and flows of the game.

I lost with aces

The Tale of Billy: A Classic Case of Misinterpreting Bad Play as ‘Rigged’ Poker

Another tale often cited to argue that online poker is rigged involves a player named Billy. After a stretch of bad luck, Billy finally gets dealt Aces. Rather than raising to thin the field, he limps in, inviting multiple players to stay in the pot. His strategy backfires; he ends up losing to two other players by the River, resulting in a disastrous session.

Misunderstanding of Basic Poker Strategy

Billy’s mistake was clear: he misplayed his Aces by not raising pre-flop. This allowed more players into the hand, increasing the odds that someone could outdraw him—which is precisely what happened. But rather than acknowledging his poor play, Billy blames the game, concluding that online poker must be rigged.

Billy’s Unjustified Conclusion: A Classic Misconception

Billy’s flawed reasoning leads him to believe that because he had Aces, he should have automatically won the pot. He feels robbed when another player with a weaker hand gets lucky and wins. This leads him to the blinkered and unjustified conclusion that online poker is rigged.

A Lesson on Variance and Skill

The lesson here is twofold: First, strong cards like Aces aren’t a guarantee of winning; they should be played strategically. Second, bad outcomes often stem from bad decisions, not a rigged system. It’s crucial to differentiate between the inherent variance of the game and one’s own skill level (or lack thereof).

I played well every day for two weeks and didn’t make a profit

Luck Versus Skill: The Balance in Poker

Poker is unique in that it blends luck and skill. Unlike chess, where skill overwhelmingly determines outcomes, poker allows for a greater influence of luck, especially in the short term. The fewer hands you play, the more variance can overshadow skill, leading to unpredictable results.

New Players Can Succeed, But Long-Term Skill Prevails

This balance between luck and skill is why poker is accessible to new players. They can experience immediate successes, even if they lack advanced skills. However, over a longer period, better players will consistently rise to the top, reinforcing that skill is a crucial element in the game.

The Reality of Variance: Even Experts Have Bad Days

Even players with perfect strategies and high discipline can face losses due to short-term variance. It’s important to understand that this is an “occupational hazard” of the game, not an indication that the system is rigged.

Variance is Not Rigging

Experiencing a run of bad luck or an unexpected losing streak is a part of the game’s inherent nature. These outcomes don’t imply that online poker is rigged; they’re simply a reflection of the game’s variability. Accepting this is essential for any poker player.

Conclusion about rigged online poker

In the vast landscape of poker sites, there has always been a debate about whether or not poker is rigged. This skepticism often comes from a series of bad beats or unexpected outcomes, leading some to believe that the odds are being manipulated. Let’s make this short and break the whole ‘poker is rigged’ fallacy down to two groups:

  1. When things don’t go your way, especially during online sessions on a poker site, it’s tempting to claim that the game is rigged.
  2. Alternatively, truly dive deep into understanding the game (and the reasons why things happen) – this means recognizing the statistical nature of poker games and the variance involved in playing poker.

Many who are new to online platforms but are familiar with live poker might feel the difference in gameplay intensity. But the digital medium doesn’t necessarily mean the game is tampered with. We can assure you that online poker is absolutely not – and never will be – rigged. So, when you play poker, it’s wise to trust the reputable platforms, especially the best poker sites that have undergone numerous audits and checks.

In conclusion, while it’s natural to feel frustration after a series of losses, it’s essential to differentiate between having an unlucky streak and blaming the system. Remember, poker is as much about strategy as it is about luck. The next time you’re considering playing poker, trust the process, improve your skills, and choose Option 2!

last updated 14.12.2023