live-poker-is-rigged-proofI’m not sure whether it’s funny or sad that even after my post on why online poker is not rigged, I still get people emailing me trying to convince me otherwise. The funny/sad part is that despite the fact that I’ve all but called people who make that claim without hand histories or other empirical evidence idiots I continue to receive 1 – 5 emails a week telling me some bad beat story and QED, online poker is rigged. So with that in mind, I’m going to expound a bit on some new points as well as clarify previously made points.

First, let’s look at a casino’s motivation to rig an online poker game. The standard theory goes that the casinos deal action flops to generate more action and thus bigger rake. Fortunately, like most online poker is rigged assertions, this is patently false. Anybody who has ever played low limit poker either online or live in a casino knows that the house doesn’t need to deal an action flop to get lots of action. The average low limit hand is likely to have four or more players seeing the flop and at least three seeing the river. That’s not just online. This happens at every casino I’ve ever been to. There’s no such thing as a tight low limit table. Hell, I was at the Bellagio the other night in an $8/$16 game and guys were capping it pre-flop with A6o from UTG. With four or five players seeing the flop, every flop is going to be an action flop because with that many players, somebody had to hit something and at least one or two others picked up draws (to many low limit players, runner runner is still a draw).

But let’s just suppose that this casino owner is really, really greedy and he wants to milk every last penny out of the table. Wouldn’t rigging an action flop generate more rake? Surprisingly, generating more action probably wouldn’t increase the house’s take. Play 10,000 hands of $5/$10 full and then play 10,000 hands of $5/$10 6 max and tell me where you pay the most rake. Actually, I’ll make it easy and give you the answer; you pay more rake at the $5/$10 6 max game. With less players possible in each hand and the fact that 6 max games tend to have only two or possibly three people seeing a flop (and many hands never going to the river), the hands get played out faster and the house collects more rake. Dealing an action flop would only cause the hands to last longer which would negate any extra rake the house makes.

Still don’t believe me? Let’s do the math. Let’s assume that a game that isn’t rigged sees only 10 more hands per hour than a rigged game that generates a lot of action. Let’s use 50 and 40 as our examples. Now let’s make another powerful assumption; the online casinos can’t juice every hand for action flops. If they did, it would surely show up in Poker Tracker results and would be glaringly obvious to even the statistically inept. And I think this is also a safe assumption since only the most deranged tin-foil hat wearing accusers have ever attempted to stipulate that every hand is rigged. I like keeping the math simple so perhaps we can assume that the room juices 10% of the hands. That is likely a monstrously gross over-estimate due to the fact that even juicing 10% of the hands would lead to peculiar Poker Tracker stats but I’m extremely lazy and would rather over-compensate than break out a calculator.

The rake range for PartyPoker on lower limit full games is $1 – $3. Let’s say the average rake is $2 (mid range between $1 and $3) and that a juiced deal will max the rake out at $3.

50 normal hands would yield a rake of $100.
45 normal hands would yield a rake of $90.

If they juice 10% of the hands (4.5 hands) and make an extra dollar per hand, the casino rakes an additional $4.50 for a total of $94.50. Now, even the thickest of skulls must admit that a casino would rather make $100 than $94.50 so where exactly is the incentive to create action flops?

Obviously any casino that ever got caught doing something dirty would be out of business within days so given the rather disappointing results from actively rigging games, what could a casino do to increase its rake without rigging games?

  • Decrease the time to act. Most casinos give anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds for a player to act. Reducing that time down to 10 or 15 seconds would increase the number of hands played per hour.
  • Implement time banks. Similar to the suggestion above, time banks would penalize players who take too long to act and would speed up the play of hands.
  • Auto-post blinds automatically instead of making it optional.
  • Increase the rake

Now, given the few off the cuff suggestions above, why would a casino risk its multimillion revenue stream to get a little extra rake when it could do any of the above and accomplish even better results legally?

The second major problem with the online poker is rigged accusation (if the above isn’t enough to convince you) is a result of logical inconsistencies. If you were to spend your time searching around poker message boards (as I have) you would soon discover a pattern that I like to refer to as the circular logic of paranoia. Essentially, what you’ll find are people who say that Site A is rigged but Site B is ok. The logic becomes circular when someone else says that Site B is rigged but Site A is ok. Both parties are convinced that online poker is rigged but they are as equally convinced that the site they play on is not. Either one of them is correct (and the other incorrect) or both are incorrect. It’s logically impossible for both to be right. In other words, even within the world of people who are convinced that online poker is rigged, they can’t even agree on which sites are and are not rigged.

The far more likely scenario is that different sites have different personalities. For instance, when Full Tilt first launched it was frequented by pretty hard-core players. The games were tight and very tough. As the site has grown, that profile has changed but it is nowhere near the complete maniac playground Party is. Personally, I got crushed when I went from a weak/tight site (Paradise) to Party. It took several tries for me to adjust to the raw aggression of the Party tables and avoid getting lured into becoming too aggressive myself. Overall it made me a better player because I can now play against a wider variety of playing styles but if I can certainly see why someone ignorant of hand strengths to think a site is rigged. Fortunately, though deceptively simple to believe, it’s highly unlikely. Aces will get cracked far more often on a loose aggressive site than they will on a weak tight site. If you’re not adjusting your game to the types of opponents you’re up against it’s likely you’re going to experience beats that you normally don’t. And given the choice between believing an argument that is dependant on circular logic or one that seems self-evident to those who have played in various types of games, I’ll take the later.

A slight variation on this theme is the argument that online casinos make certain players win or lose to suit their business objectives. One type of argument states that when you cash out of a site then you start losing. This phenomenon is often referred to as the Cash Out Curse. Another variation is that online casinos want the fish to win and the better players to lose because the fish give more action and thus make the site more money. All variations of this argument stipulate that the card room has built a sophisticated system that can profile player actions and then adjust the cards based on some set of criteria.

The big question is whether or not this is plausible. First, let’s look at the casino’s motivation. According to the poker is rigged theory, poor players are good for the site and people who cash out need to be punished. Are poor players good for a site? In theory, poor players keep good players coming back because they can beat them. But if you purposely make the good players lose so the poor players can win, the most likely outcome is that you have a site full of bad players that the good players can’t beat because the casino is fixing the cards. The good players would quit playing at that site and move on thus your core clientele, the ones who eight and ten table and generate tons of rake, would bolt and you would be left with nothing but recreational players who would be doing nothing more than pushing chips back and forth to each other until they all go broke to the rake.

Another logical flaw in the argument is that a table has nine players and only one of them can win the pot (ignoring split pots). If the site is rewarding one player they are screwing the other eight. How would the site stay in business by rewarding one player and screwing eight? Mathematically this doesn’t even make sense. The most likely response you’ll receive when you pose this dilemma to the online poker is rigged accuser is that the site spreads out the wins across the other seven (the accuser is never lucky enough to benefit). If that were the case then it sounds like no rigging is going on at all unless we are to assume the site’s owner has singled out a single individual at the table and decided to screw him over. I’m willing to entertain arguments that at least have a thread connecting them to reality but this simply isn’t one of them.

Additionally, we have to believe that the casino hopes to punish people who cash out. What would be their motivation for this? Perhaps the thinking is that by causing someone to lose money they would re-deposit. While plausible it’s highly unlikely as the casino doesn’t make money on cash that isn’t in play anyway. If I have a $3000 bankroll and I play $3/$6 then the likelihood of anything more than $300 or $600 of my bankroll being in play at any given time is almost zero. In other words, when I sit down at four $3/$6 tables with $150 each, the casino is only earning rake on the $600 in play. The other $2400 generates no income for them (unless they have some sort of interest bearing money fund which would be minimal anyway). Why would the casino care if I pulled out $1000 to take a trip to the Bahamas next month? I’m still actively wagering the same $300 – $600. And even if they did throw me a streak of bad cards and I lost some money and had to re-deposit, I’m either going to continue playing at the $3/$6 level and create a net wash for the casino (they neither make or lose additional money) or I’m going to move down in limits to $2/$4 and generate even less rake. If the casino was going to rig the game they would motivate you to play at a higher limit rather than forcing you to play a smaller game.

Now even if you dismiss all of what has been presented above, this entire line of arguments relies on some very critical, but unlikely, assumptions. First, you have to develop a system smart enough to do all of the above. While possible, if you look at the overall quality of online poker software, it seems highly unlikely. For instance, are we to believe that PartyPoker, who can’t even keep the number of players at each table up to date in the lobby, has built a highly complex player ranking system that not only figures out how to rig each hand but is also smart enough to cull through the millions of players in their database to figure out who is the most deserving of being dealt good and bad hands. As a software engineer I know that this is possible but as a software engineer I also know that software engineers capable of creating such a system wouldn’t leave so many blatant errors in the client software. Even a minor bug would eventually show its ugly head once enough hands were analyzed. And with no such anomalies having been discovered in the billions of hands that have been dealt one must either assume that the card rooms have the best software engineers in the world or accept that the accusation is false.

The second major flaw in this argument is that the CEO of CheatingPokerSite.com can’t write this code him/herself. They would have to instruct the software engineers to do this and anybody who worked on or around this code would notice it so they would need to be sworn to secrecy as well. In a large company like Party that could mean anywhere from 10 to 20 software engineers would have direct knowledge that the site is cheating customers. How valuable is that information? Once even one person knows they can blackmail the company for any amount of money. The more popular the site is the higher the stakes for the company. They would need to be paying those software engineers millions upon millions of dollars a year in hush money and even then, if even one of them feels disgruntled he’s going to snitch and bring the whole thing down.

Lastly, the programmers would need to know what your actions are going to be. If I get dealt KJ off suit in early position I’ll probably fold that hand at most tables. I’ll play it in middle or late position in an un-raised pot. I might even raise with it myself if I’m in late position and it’s been folded to me. But how are the site’s programmers going to know how I’m going to play this hand? My decision to play or not to play is a complex mix of factors such as position, who else is in the pot, whether it’s been raised or not, whether or not I can get other players to fold, etc. along with a small dash of whatever mood I happen to be in during that hand. Even if you could predict when, where, and how I would play that hand, the software couldn’t possibly also predict how every other opponent will play their hands against me. Since their actions will impact how I play the hand it would be a monumental software development effort to build a system so sophisticated that it could calculate all of this information in real time. They can’t even build a bot that can beat a human but we’re supposed to believe that they’ve built a system that can not only deal you second best hands but predict how every single player at the table will play their hands?

We’ve examined the motivations of why the poker site might want to cheat customers but I think it’s equally important to examine the psychology of why people would speculate that online poker is rigged without any evidence to support the claim. It’s easy to make fun of such paranoid rants and think these people of some form of lesser intelligence. I know because I do it often. But it really doesn’t explain why seemingly intelligent people make the claim.

For anybody who has gained any sort of mastery of poker they understand that poker is a game of many frustrations. You can be playing perfect poker and still lose. You can completely outplay your opponent and still lose. The beauty of the game is that even the fish can beat the sharks every once in awhile which is what keeps the fish coming back to lose even more. If the sharks always devoured the fish the fish would soon catch on and refuse to play. Those that prescribe to the online poker is rigged theory seem to lack this very fundamental understanding.

The ego is a fragile aspect of human nature and losing a hand when you’re a 90% favorite to win can make one feel as if the system is rigged. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you simply can’t lose to people who play as poorly as the opponents that you’ll find online. But that’s poker! Sometimes massive favorites lose. When that cruel mistress called Variance visits us at the poker table it can often lead many to search for a meaning. Unfortunately, even many well educated people don’t fully understand probability and so they equate losing with poor play (which it often is) and since they don’t believe themselves to be poor players, they are forced to find an alternative explanation.

Blaming the site for being rigged serves the same psychological purpose as the belief that if one can just play at a high enough limit he can be a successful player. Both online and live players will often declare that they can’t seem to beat the $1/$2 limit but if they had the bankroll to play $30/$60 where the good players are they could be a winner. The erroneous nature of such utterances is obvious to anybody who has paid their dues at the micro limits and worked their way up to middle and high limit games. A major, major portion of being a winning player is learning how to play under a wide range of circumstances and against an array of opponent playing styles. If you’re at a table with seven players seeing every flop, your pocket aces are going to get cracked a lot more often than in a tight game where heads-up flops are the norm. Lots of callers favors suited connectors and other hands that can get the proper odds to draw. Heads up games favor big cards as you won’t often get the proper odds to draw. If you can’t make those adjustments, moving up in limits will only drain one’s bankroll even more quickly.

You can sense the frustration felt by these players in their numerous message board and blog posts. Their arguments abandon reason and almost immediately nose dive into emotional rants filled with wild accusations, cursing, all-caps, and defensive attitudes. It’s quite obvious that these are not people who have coolly considered the facts and have arrived at a conclusion they wish others to consider. These postings tend to be an emotional outlet that allows the accuser to project his failures at the table onto some mysterious conspiracy out to punish his superior skills.

This psychological barrier to admitting failure is not unique to the poker world. When I used to work on the brokerage industry it was more common than not to have clients attempt to convince you they profited on a trade when you’re staring at the transaction history which shows a massive loss. I’ve yet to meet anyone who lost money in the market crash of 1987. Everybody I’ve ever spoken to got their money out just days before the crash due to their savvy trading skills.

People hate to admit failure. Poker seems like such a simple game that to admit defeat playing .50/$1 limit games seems like a reflection on their intellect. You almost never hear the online poker is rigged accuser saying that he is a mediocre or beginning player. No matter how low the limits the person is playing they will always claim to be a near expert in the game with at least a decade of experience playing live games. So the accusation is really an admission of their lack of understanding of how the game works and their frustration due to their skills not matching with how good they think they are.

Until I’m shown empirical evidence of online poker being rigged, I’ll be forced to ridicule those who insist on advancing that theory.

49 thoughts to “Motivations For Rigging Online Poker

  • Fred Jewell

    Poker Online is rigged for sure. I have played online for ten years like a fool trying to believe folks its not rigged. If iam up say 2.00 and iam all in as the fav. against a guy with .40 in the pot , i will lose that hand 98%. It keeps all the money in play on the table until the rake is able to gobble it up. do not try to say its not rigged for this.. If iam regular reloader they will let me get cleaned out as long as my reload pattern is consistent. If Iwait a year then put $200.00 on a site and play an MTT i will be up 3,4,5 hundred in no time , then they will break me fast hoping for my reload to chase losses because of the previous rigged wins. Watch the patterns people its all rigged to take as much from each person as it looks like they can sqeeze out of them … on and on andon i could go

  • justin

    I’d just like to add that, despite being a huge advocate of online poker’s legitimacy, I have lately found myself wondering if I am even correct, hence why I’ve ended up here…..
    Whenever it has been put to me that it is rigged, I’ve retorted with the same arguments Bill has here, and quickly pointed out how it would cripple any site just having mere rumours of such scandalous activity. However, I too have had the ‘amazing’ start, ROI’s above 40%, only to notice a huge drop off in returns down the line. I’ll get in first to rebuff any claims of players adjusting to style of play etc. to explain this sharp drop, as I can assure you I’ve tracked and noted every player I’ve encountered and according to my Holdem Manager database, over 70% of losses have been to relatively ‘unknown’ players (unknown to myself that is), which would imply clearly that the lack of knowledge is reciprocated. Of these losses, excluding my bad reads and negative plays (yes there’s been a few!!), the vast majority are to players making extremely negative plays, and catching ridiculous 1/2/3/4 outers on 4th or 5th street. VARIANCE I hear you say!!! Yes, I’m all too aware of that aspect, believe me…. No, what doesn’t add up for me is a huge majority of these players have very positive ROI’s, high ratings and an large amount of experience. Figures that don’t correlate with the plays being made, without some sort of additional information….. There was an example earlier about a player not playing a single hand for a long while, then calling pretty strong action with weak holdings, and hitting the nuts. Why would they do that? Given, they could have been priced in, but with such strong action ahead, and I think it was all in, it doesn’t quite add up without some other source of information. Now, couple posts up my attention was brought to the Absolute/UB scandals of which I was previously unaware. I looked them up and it seems employees with access to ‘codes’ (I’m no techie but Ive an idea about what these are) were accessing the hole cards of other players by aquiring the I.P addresses of said players and somehow viewing their holdings. As has been stated above it hasn’t actually done them too much harm really has it….. I put it forward that it is reasonably possible that these companies could have themselves knowingly been involved, and it is also reasonably possible that those that were implicated could have been fallguys of a sort (this is not to say they were not involved). It has also been rumoured that players (or accounts) affiliated with such sites are privvy to some sort of additional information which allows them to drastically increase returns, which are in turn ‘gambled’ in the online gaming rooms/casinos joined to such sites, where, common knowledge has it, the house always wins. This would, if true, bring a huge amount of revenue to such sites in a very disguised fashion. Rather than the revenue moving around various poker accounts paying X amount of rake each time X amount is wagered, it would be taken in much faster through the casino once accrued. I don’t claim ANY of what I have put accross to be fact, nor do I offer any example of trillions of hands that show an anomoly outside the norm of expected ranges of variance. What I will say though, is that whilst having a few documented facts thrown in the mix, nearly all of Bill’s argument IS still circumstantial, and although as pointed out, it wouldn’t seem to be in the best, long term interests of any site to ‘rig’ games, the cases of Absolute/UB do highlight that it is entirely possible for a party to ‘cheat’ (I understand this is player vs player, but it’s not irrefutable that any site could have ‘an army’ of accounts that are privvy to additional information, and thus accrue more than just X amount of rake). It also should be noted that I tend to agree with Bill that it is difficult to accomplish such complex algorithms, and it is highly unlikely that any rigging is occurring. But I have to admit, I have a small, tiny miniscule amount of doubt…….
    Could anybody clarify for me the dealing procedure for online poker??? Are there X amount of preset full deals in a database, that an algorithm randomly selects from? Does the algorithm shuffle the cards randomly, then deal as a croupier would? Is the flop, 4th and 5th st predetermined at the start of a hand, or randomly selected from the remaining cards? Are the deals selected from pre-shuffled virtual decks? Randomness is a pretty tricky area as nothing is ever really entirely random is it, theres always a factor to predetermine something, whether it be the fact that the algorithms have been ‘created’ to ‘act random, and are therefore predictable in their own right, or that ‘random’ decisons in humans are actually massively influenced at the sub concious level…..?

    justin 99% certain its all legit!! :)

  • HeeHaw

    To say that a site has too much to risk losing by rigging outcomes seems a bit off.
    Absolute Poker still exists despite a scandal of the highest proportions. Maybe it’s the gamblers mentality that keeps players there. Let’s be real, it may have been a rogue employee/wsop champ ripping pots (not card rigging) but their credibility is shot. No business no matter how big is guaranteed to always be at the top of the heap forever so it would make sense to maximise profits while they are. From a business standpoint it may even be too risky to NOT rig deals, given the amount of missed profit. But, like you say, statistics don’t lie. Maybe that is the genius of the alleged ‘equitable distribution’ rort, the distribution of wins after the river or premium hole cards statistically remaining true, but perhaps it is the ‘choosing’ of who to give the ‘winning’ cards to, and at what stage of the game (bubble usually?) that may be less than random? I assume that would be unprovable, like most rigged deal allegations. The other theory that a percentage of players in tournaments/SNG’s are site ‘bots’ seems to be the most profitable way to rig a site.

  • Marcus

    Like your work Peter, have experienced very similar starts at 7 different sites, before the slow down and harder to win period! While im still not completely sure whether online poker is totally rigged as such after playing 300k hands over 18 months now, there is no doubt in my mind it s manipulated in some way, i’ll bet my life on that!

  • James Tomshay

    The only incentive internet poker rooms would have in rigging the games would be to generate rake. I agree they do not do this. I also can see how the consistant loser would start to think they do. I feel that even though the U.S. has nothing to do with any of these sites besides attempting to freeze funds, they are still strictly regulated. If there was evidence of them rigging the games to juice the rake they would be off the interenet pretty quickly. I am rather suprised that Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker continue to thrive after their big cheating scandal though. Any thoughts on that? I know they were ordered to pay money back to cheated players. I just don’t see how they still have any credibility left?

  • gord

    Nice post Bill. In my first year of playing online poker, I too thought it was rigged. The longer you play and the more sites you play on you begin to see a pattern, which is called variance. This takes a long to learn and accept.

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  • peter

    Yes, I am convinced poker sites cheat but for a different reason from Bill pointed out. As in any business they want to have as large customer base as possible and they want to keep everyone, good players as well as bad players. Think about this. Say it takes me 10000 hands to bust a fish if the game is totally honest ( The cards are dealt randomly as they claim). Inthis case the house collect 10000 rakes but if they tilt the game so that it takes me 20000 hands to bust this fish – the house now enjoys 100% increase in revenue. Not only that this fish is more inclined to stay with this site and depoist additional funds than losing his bank roll very quickly , say after winning 1 out of 10 sessions he played. But he wins 3 out of 10 his money is going to last longer – more rakes for the house and more importatly retation rate of this fish increases because he is not so discouraged. Meanwhile where am I going to go? I win in this site anyhow and other sites are going to do the same thing anyway.So I stay with site accepting the fact that I am going to win much more slowly than a regular casino games. It is still better for me to play on line than going to regular card rooms because of time element, availability of the games i want to play,etc. So this poker site sucessfully kept me and the fish by tilting the game. if you expand the number by thousands and thousands of players -excellent,good and bad players alike, the house can maintain far more tables open, thus more rakes, it is a sound business practice although it is so wrong for them to do (cheat) this. Remember excellent players still end up winning as I have done.

    How do they do this. It is absurd to think that some computer guy sitting in his office and fix my and my opponents’ hands – Bill is right that is too difficult and costly for them. My theory is this. Every player is rated, say excellent,good, average and poor or new and this rating is adjusted according to how much and how fast he wins or loses.The hands a player receive is determined by his rating. This cannot be to difficult for them to do ( I would think although i am not a computer nurd ) if their software is programed that way to begin with. Do I have a concrete proof? No i don’t but I I am 100% convinced that they cheat based on my experience and some limited stats I took.
    Some 2 years ago I started to play 7 card stud at Pacific. my intention was to get my feet wet and move up to higher limit games.I consider myself an excellent 7 card stud player (of course most of the players think the same way). I won at much faster pace than I was accoustomed to. Then I noticed that I was still winning but much more slowly. I did not think too much of this ,knowing poker has peaks and valleys and eventaully the sound playing will take care of amount of money I win.This went on for a couple months. 2 months’long of bad streak? It happened before. No big deal. Right? But 2 months of playing online is like 6-7 months of playing casino games simply because of number of hands you play 70- to 80 hands/hr. vs. 40-45 hands/hr. and often I was playing in 2 games(low limit). Are my opponents playing better? Am I playing poorly? The answer was no and no. I felt the number of playable hands was not what the odds dectiate,frequencies of my bring ins seemed high and the number of bad beats did not make sense.(on the 6 th.st. if my opponent has only 3 outs and 27 cards left, i should be able to expect to win 8 out of 9 times in the long run. that was not happenning.) I kept telling myself I was going through the prolonged bad streak. Before I played higher limit games I decided to keep track of the first 3 cards dealt to me since this is the most critical point of 7 card stud. I only did this on 1000 hands. I realize this is not even close to be an ample sample but good enough for me to play from higher limit games. My bringins were almost 19% instead of 12-13% coupled with the increased number of unplayable hands my fixed cost of playing went up dramatically. This alone will stretch bad players’ bank roll because good players are not in the pot to punish their loose plays. Instead frqeuently 3 or 4 bad players in the pot and simply trading pots back and forth.
    When I dicovered Empire I was so happy . They had more 7 card tables available than Pacific and the players were just as bad. Then the same thing happened, I won very quickly and after a while I was winning at much slower pace.After all the stud players left Empire, I joined Party and expect to do the same thing, winning fast in the beginning and things would slow down. They did. Now i play sit and go 7 stud mostly becuase of fixed cost of playing is lower than regular games(10% registration fee). I have played approx. 600 tournnaments and am a consistent winner as in Pacific and Empire. The first 10 I played I was in the money 8 times winning 4. the First 100 I played I came in the money 58 times. That must have put me in top rated class because now I come in the money around 50%. a
    And I have better understanding how sit and go 7 stud should be played than before. But the pattern is exactly the same if you an excellent player you win ver fast in the beginning because your rating is low or unknown, and as you rating goes up it becomes more difficult for you to win.
    They tilt the game in bad players’ favor by
    1. increasing good players’ overhead – namely bringins. Once I had to bring in 8 in a row in 4 handed game when the bring ins were 200 chips. My stack of 5000 chips went down to 3000 chips without playing one hand. I think everyone folded once.
    2.aces and bad players. I think all 4 aces are placed in the first 25 cards in some hands. Typically bad players value aces far more than they should. They will often chase you to the river when they have an ace even if they are semi dead. They catch the miracle ace far more often than the odds say they should. If poker site placed all 4 aces in the first 25-30 cards ,say, 3 out of 10 hands that should help bad players a lot. Recently I started asking for hand histories after every tournament because I was not winning all in hands (in sit and go when only 3 or 4 players are left, you often go all in by 3rd. 4th.st. because the stakes are so high by the time. I was ahead with a bigger pair every time except one hand when my opponent had a pocket a’s I figured I was favored to win 60-70% of these hands.But I lost 16 out of 18 mostly to 2 small 2 pairs while I did not catch a second pair.
    3. If you go against another good player in heads up situation bad beats don’t happen as often. That is because he is rated high like you and he gets cards similar to yours.

    Many of your readers have similar exprience. While no one can prove beyond the resonable doubt, the online card rooms do have the motivation to rig the game in bad players’ favor so that I,the good player,and bad players will remain with their site as long as possible. Am I wrong? Anyone?

  • pokerplayer

    Question, please:

    Is it legal for poker sites to use “commercial bots” if it irrelevant whether they lose or win. In other words, a new poker site might create 500 bots to give the impression of traffic on the site and thereby lure people into spending their money. Is this legal? Anyone?

    Thanks

  • Ben

    I enjoyed your arguments that the sites are not rigged but disagree. For example Poker sTars sent me an article certifying their site. From 100,000 actual hands there were 23.8% one suit flops. That is close to my experience. However, the writer said that the expected number was 24.2%. BS totally statistically wrong. The expected would be about 5.1%. The only was to have such a high number of such flush draws requires intervention it is not ramdomly possible. The same is true of the percentage of gut straights hit. It is just not statistically possible.

    After reading your article I questions my arguments on why they do it but I am sure they do.

  • curt

    pp suffers a lack of credibility in my mind because the flops seem so far out of the realm of norm versus my live experience20 + years). 3 of a kind flops at least once every two or three hours at one table as an example. additionally, the players cant be as stupid as their play–half will call anythything and any raise–there is no way to play “properly” or “well” and expect to see a normal betiing pattern or response. it is so random that it is not really fun. also-are ther really ways to see everybody elses hands at the table? it would explain the otherwise irrational play.

  • Bill

    Re:

    Of course you pay more rake in a 6 person game. Of course its faster, there are 4 less people at the game. I never said those were not in play. You also have the rake capped because of the lossenss of the table scenerio.

    Then what was the point of your “Argument A?” Actually, you’re not being very honest here because this is what you said:

    arguement A – the 10 table 6 table max. 6 table games generate larger rakes not because of amount of hands played. They do so primarily because hand requirements by any and every player loosen with 4 fewer players at the table. This is universal, there is not a player that doesnt get in more hands in a 6 player game then he or she does in a 10 table hand.

    In fact, let’s key in on this setence:

    6 table games generate larger rakes not because of amount of hands played.

    Isn’t that exactly the opposite of:

    Of course you pay more rake in a 6 person game. Of course its faster, there are 4 less people at the game. I never said those were not in play.

    Then you go on to say:

    Your comments on my B. The average person would actually notice a 15 second change in time to act timers. In your original arguement you said 10-15, not 5. Though I would say 5 would be noticed as well. As it stands now people are often caught sleeping at the table so to speak. An extra 5 seconds would drastically increase that. Online poker is already sushed. I am as positive a lot of effort was put into what are acceptable timers as you are on all of your assertions.

    Yes, I said you could move the timer down from 30 seconds to 15 – 20 seconds. I did not say people wouldn’t notice it. What I said was that if a poker site wanted to maximize it’s return, it would be far easier to reduce the time to act than it would to come up with some elaborate scheme to cheat players. In my second example, I threw out 5 seconds because that is an amount of time that would likely go undetected by the vast majority of players. Also, you do realize that most sites have a different amount of time to act, don’t you? When is the last time you ever saw a message board thread about which sites have the longest time to act? Believe me, only a very small number of people would change sites over 5 seconds. In fact, many people (like me) would welcome it as I already think people abuse the timer. Wouldn’t that be freaky? They do something that makes them more money AND makes the regular grinders happy?

    What I disagree with is your claims at how difficult it would be to do some of the things asserted by others and your logic on why its unfavorable to do so.

    You have failed to explain to me how easy it is. You’ve thrown around a bunch of made up numbers (as you do again later in this paragraph) and think that because you work in telecom, you somehow know something about software engineering.

    Certainly Enron execs were smart enough to know the potential consequences of their actions. It did not stop them now did it?

    Yes, and people know the consequences of murder and still do it. So what? Most people don’t. Most corporations don’t go to there trying to rip people off. If bringing up Hitler is the sure sign of someone who has lost an argument, bringing up Enron is surely a sign you have nothing intelligent left to contribute.

    I also disagree with how much money can be generated by even small amounts of cheating they have the potential to do. 4.3 million is not quite chump change, even if your legit revenue is 50mil.

    So approx 10% of revenues could be generated from cheating and it can go totally undetected? Ha! Please show me a model where that works.

    I also disagree with your nition that the party disaster shows their inability to excell in other areas. Their success itself shows they have the ability to do great things. Lets not mention that web coders are typically much less skilled then app coders. You and I both know this.

    I’m not saying it’s the same people who would do both jobs. What I’m saying is that a company that set up the precautions to keep from getting caught rigging games would have a certain corporate mentality which would have had them QA and re-QA everything before it goes live to the public. Even more so now that Party is a public company and faux pas’ like this can actually make the stock take a hit.

    Again, I’ve never taken any single argument and said “Aha! This is proof it’s not rigged.” What I’ve done is collect a mountain of facts and said, “Considering ALL of the facts, it doesn’t seem there is sufficient motivation to rig the games.”

    You should actually read this post and many of my previous posts on this subject. I think you came here with some sort of pre-conceived notion of what I was going to say and you started to argue against things I didn’t say or you took portions out of context (the 15 – 20 seconds thing) and used them to prop up your little rant. Some arguments are going to be stronger than others but the cold hard truth is that you’ve said nothing here that actually gives credible dispute to what I’ve said.

  • Re

    Of course you pay more rake in a 6 person game. Of course its faster, there are 4 less people at the game. I never said those were not in play. You also have the rake capped because of the lossenss of the table scenerio.

    E – Are you going to pick on my spelling and punctuation next? Its usually in the arsenol of your type of personality.

    Your comments on my B. The average person would actually notice a 15 second change in time to act timers. In your original arguement you said 10-15, not 5. Though I would say 5 would be noticed as well. As it stands now people are often caught sleeping at the table so to speak. An extra 5 seconds would drastically increase that. Online poker is already sushed. I am as positive a lot of effort was put into what are acceptable timers as you are on all of your assertions.

    The funny thing is I actually agree with you that it is unlikely this is happening. For a long time I left player chat on and would argue with the conspiracy theorists atleast 4 times a week at the table. IMO you see what you see for a few simple reasons.

    1 – The countless hands being dealt are obviously going to generate a lot of bad beats

    2 – the looseness of the players is obviously going to generate a lot of bad beats.

    What I disagree with is your claims at how difficult it would be to do some of the things asserted by others and your logic on why its unfavorable to do so. Certainly Enron execs were smart enough to know the potential consequences of their actions. It did not stop them now did it? I also disagree with how much money can be generated by even small amounts of cheating they have the potential to do. 4.3 million is not quite chump change, even if your legit revenue is 50mil. I also disagree with your nition that the party disaster shows their inability to excell in other areas. Their success itself shows they have the ability to do great things. Lets not mention that web coders are typically much less skilled then app coders. You and I both know this.

    Billions of hands. You got me there, I did indeed misread, I apologize for that.

  • Re

    Bill in a response to one player said

    “How about this; you tell me how they would do it and I’ll tell you how someone would be able to easily detect it. If it’s so TRIVIAL to do then it should be somewhat TRIVIAL for you to explain how one would go about it. You don’t even have to write the code. You just have to explain, in some degree of detail, how one rigs the game without it showing up as rigged when being analyzed via hand histories and such.”

    The answer to this is actually quite easy. First as I have said before I dont believe its rigged, just that pretty much all of your arguements are invalid on why its not rigged. Anyway. You dont actually create a player that is unbeatable. There are 2 vatiations and I have seen evidense of its “potential” at every site. One is the player comes in and within a few hands gets all in in an impossible situation. A4 off against pocket aces and such, then hits a set of 4’s wins an all in then promptly leaves. This happens on UB where I mostly play every day at every table I have ever seen. They seem to the press the deal me out button before the hand is even over and boom they are gone. While this is likely the result of someone realizing they just robbed the bank and made a VERY bad call thus ppl are going to take advantage of them later for playing that way so hes “outta there”. The other way to do this is to generate players that do not win every time, but win a variable percentage each day against each table they play at and the house would indeed simply increase their profits. If they did it a lot it would be very easy to make a hefty side profit. If they vary the percent, even have them lose and move to another table here and there the poker tracker results would be unable to measure this. There would be simply no way for you to tell this was happening. About the only thing you could do is wonder why this player never talks at the table. But then again you would wonder why I never talk. I have chat turned off and dont talk when I play online. Im sure im not the only legit player that does that.

    “If they’re rigging games or creating unbeatable armies they have to do it at the lowest limits where the players are the most inexperienced and unable to catch on. If they did it at higher limits, most of these folks have played enough poker that they know when there’s a fix on the game. So if they only fix the smaller games, what the hell is the point since the amount of money they can make is so TRIVIAL?”

    This is actually a baseless arguement. Where do you think most of the casinos make the majority of their money? From the 10 whales that visit them off and on or from the millions that go in and play 5$ min roulette and quarter slots? I wont even mention (ok I will) that you gave away the reason they WOULD do this at the lower limit games rather then the higher limit games. There are FAR more games being played 2/4 and lower (your average 2/4 player is pretty unsophisticated) then there are 3/6 and higher at all online sites that come to mind. You make more selling a million pairs of shoes at a generic shoe store then you do selling 1000 pairs at 100$ profit a pair at the rich and famous only store.

    “And if your argument is that the casino is simply in the business of creating armies of non-losing players, you still haven’t given me a reasonable scenario. Ok, Party has 50,000 players online playing on a given evening; how big of an army would they have to have to even generate enough money that it wouldn’t look like a rounding error compared to the amount of rake they’re taking in?”

    Enough to generate 500 an hour is all they need. See you keep going on this theory that they have to make a HUGE amount to be worth their time. Most businessmen will tell you the big score is overated. Hell most good poker players will tell you that. Doyle has made a pretty good living playing for little pots at a time. The reality is they do not need to make a huge huge amount to be worth their time. Lets say a poker room averages 10,000 players at their tables at any given time over a 24 hour period. If they take 5 cents per hour from those players in the “army” scenerio that is a tad over 4.3 million a year. Still chump change?

    “No, you dolt, I haven’t called them. I have enough trust in PriceWaterhouseCoopers desire to protect their brand that they could sue any company, anywhere that I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt until I hear evidenece to the contrary”

    That actually depends on the legal system in the country the site is hosted. You cant apply American law to your arguements.

    In a nutshell all of your arguements are as false and just as well thought out as the ones you are countering. You say its not worth it, where I showed you if they can take just an amount that you would never notice would be huge profit for them. You use what is in essense american legal code to argue the valueability of the audits when none of the sites are in the US, and many are not even in a country that has a great legal system. In your other arguements you made similarly silly assertions. One of your other arguements is about the coders “owning” the company. Come on man. In any company that is 100% dependent on code the coders could theoritically “own” the company. This situation is no different. It is also no different then in any company that “might” have unscrupulous or flat out illegal things going on. They can always discredit, deny etc the claims by the accuser. They often win unless its real proof thats really big. Most intelligent people know this, and its the intelligent ones that are the ones that are generally going to catch the behavior.

  • Bill

    Re:

    Arguement A: More hands are dealt per hour. This is obvious. Yes, your starting hand requriements loosen up in short-handed poker but the average number of people seeing a showdown in a 6 handed game is far less than in a 10 handed game. Less people means less time for betting action, showdowns, etc. Ed Miller recently wrote that you pay less rake in a six-handed game and had to retract his statement when several people showed him he was wrong. You pay more rake because you play more hands per hour.

    Arguement B: The average dolt playing low limit poker doesn’t know enough about rake to know the difference. Said dolt also would not notice shaving 5 seconds off his time to act. Go look at any beginner forum where someone is asking about rooms and they talk about avatars, how quickly cashouts are processed, etc. Nobody talks about the time to act or how much rake is charged. Party has one of the highest rakes in online poker, yet it’s the most popular site out there.

    Arguement C: Actually, it has little to do with data. It has to do with server load. Different things. The more often the info is updated the more often the client has to hit the server and ping it for an update. While most poker rooms do try to limit the amount of data sent over the wire, it’s mostly to accomodate dial-up users, not to save money on bandwidth.

    Arguement D: No. I said billions of hands are dealt. Billions of hands with hundreds, if not thousands, of people indepedently tracking the results. I never said I played billions or hands nor have I said that I personally have tracked billions of hands. I said that billions of hands have been dealt and no anomolies have ever been documented.

    Argument E: Seems your alphabet needs some work as you left out “E”

    Arguement F: I’m not saying building some sort of system like this is impossible. I’m saying it’s highly improbable. Look at Party the other day goofing and giving people free money just for clicking on a link. If they can’t even do something that simple, what makes you think that they are so sophisticated that they could be running this uber-player system without even the slightest hiccup? You and every other know-it-all can argue all day long but nobody has even come close to something this sophisticated in the online poker world. Is it possible? Yes. I know plenty of computer scientists who, in a lab, can demonstrate all sorts of stuff. But you get that in the real world, and put hundreds of millions of dollars at stake if it’s discovered and it’s not so easy any more. The price of even a minor flaw in the system is way too high.

    I guess the comedy of your argument is that people smart enough to design such a system would be smart enough to know that the risk/reward ratio favors not building such a system.

    And to answer your final question: I am putting this up here because I’m tired of seeing morons post about how online poker is rigged. If people came to the table with something then we could have a debate. Instead they tell some boo-hoo stories about aces getting cracked or some other crap and they post it on every message board on the internet.

    I’ve posted this because I think they should be somewhat educated. I posted this so that people could post a link to it whenever some poor loser posts the 1,000,001st “Online Poker is Rigged” post on 2+2 or RGP. I posted this because of people like BadJames who doesn’t understand that mathematically his opponent may have been forced to call with any two cards.

    I’m not really trying to convince anybody. I know that those who think online poker is straight will read it and feel even more secure in their beliefs and those who think it’s rigged will become angry and bitter and write me nasty messages in my comments. :-)

  • Re

    badjames –

    That actually depends on some variables. Did you have less then 1-5th of his stack? Was your stack added to the blinds and rake such that the math dictated he call with any 2 cards? You would have to set the stage a little more.

  • Re

    While I dont personally believe sites are rigged literally all of your logic is just as flawed as the others who claim it is. In the end its a wash and the debate still goes on.

    arguement A – the 10 table 6 table max. 6 table games generate larger rakes not because of amount of hands played. They do so primarily because hand requirements by any and every player loosen with 4 fewer players at the table. This is universal, there is not a player that doesnt get in more hands in a 6 player game then he or she does in a 10 table hand.

    Arguement B – Other ways to make the sites more money. This is realistically impossible for them to do. With such harsh stipulations they would have no customers. Its much easier to rig the site and have conspiracies then it is to make it a non welcoming environment at the door. Wal – Mart did it for years. They would not be as big as they are now if they had not made everyone believe their products sold were made in the US at the onset of their expansion boom.

    Arguement C – The sites are too inept to develope something only slightly more sophisticated then pokertracker because they cant keep player updates in the lobby. The player updates work just fine……if you are on their LAN. The feeding of information is staggered over the internet. These sites pass a very large amount of data through the net. They limit the amount every way they can out of necessity. Making the player stamps in the lobby be non real time likely saves them 200K a year in data usage from their uplinks. And before you quable with my figure, I work in telecom, I will guarantee they save atleast that month by not making the lobby figures real time.

    Arguement D – You have been dealt billions of hands? Ok maybe you meant you had poker tracker up logging and have reached billions of hands. But I will call you to your face a bold faced liar if you say you have played 1 billion let alone several billion hands of online poker. You simply would not even have time to have written this article if you played that much. Without the line saying you tracked billions of hands this line itself makes you as unreliable a “witness” then the conspiracy theorists.

    Arguement F – The site cant know how you are going to play every hand. Your flaw here is using yourself as an example. It is indeed possible to tell withing a small percentage of variance how someone will play a hand. Poker pros make a living doing this and have proven it can be done. So has the science of sociology and psychology for hundreds of years. Most people are not very sophisticated. They are quite the reverse, very predictable. Remember, they dont have to know every single hand how every single player will react. They just have to know how the top 15% of their most predictable players will generally play a hand. Within the same arguement you say how can they make you always have the second best hand. They dont. They dont even have to give the winner the best possible hand. Most players online or not will call off or play big with the 5th or 6th best possible hand. I see regularly on UB people going big with bottum pair. You see it too and you know you do so the fact that you even put this in your arguement makes me wonder about your credibility. Who exactly are you trying to convince and why.

  • Tongo

    Bill, before they can punish new fish they must wait an hour or two so that he loses the support (tricky register award) from poker room. In that time he can also change a room and an angry experts must find him.

    Advice!!! What to do if you are on a losing strike. Open a second account with a diferent email address, loose your game and enjoy winnings:)

    Poker is a game of skill, online poker is a game of gambling!!!

  • BadJames

    Bollocks, they’re all on the take. 4hours into a $30 tournament. Final table. I’ve AA go all in preflop and get called 5 2. The flop comes 5 2 2. He can’t be that stupid and make it to the final table. Just a bad beat?

  • Bill

    Tongo,

    I guess it couldn’t be that when a new player sits down at the table, people don’t know anything about them and they give the person credit for their raises and other plays? Once people figure them for a fish they isolate them and punish them for their poor play.

    It’s called Poker 101.

    Bill

  • Tongo

    A lot of players have an impression that when they enter new poker room for the first time they are doing good. It seems like no matter how bad do you play for the first hour you are winning chips.

    Why I newer heard for someone who lost all play chips without first winning some pots? Even guy who
    never played poker before wins some pots before he loses everything due to no skill.

    Why is allways positive swing first after you open new account!!!
    Maybe this is the lure for fishes that they are talented for poker or maybe that they will feel this is their lucky game or even better that they found their lucky poker room.

    This subconscious lure is very subtle, but I think It helps poker casinos to keep players play longer in their rooms. Longer they play more money they spend. Some may spend even 2 to 3 times or more money before they quit playing.Some might even gamble everything they have just to rediscover the illusive taste of winning.

    subconscious is very powerfull and it directs our feelings and our lives! As a good salesman uses knowledge of human subconscious to sell you more products so the top poker room managers use it to take as much money from customers as they can.
    This is business.

    Setting up hands for the right people at the right time is just one of many tools poker rooms uses to earn more from us and I mean much more!

    Joe Zuilek you are right!

  • Bill

    Poker Pundit Sez:

    Thanks for your reply, but you haven’t addressed my points.

    Actually, I did address your points but your thoughts are so disjointed and rambling that it’s difficult to follow what you’re attempting to get at.

    I never said it would be trivial to program a “bot”. I said it would be trivial for a poker site to program a HOUSE PLAYER that could not lose. I say they could easily create ARMY’s of players that do not lose.

    How about this; you tell me how they would do it and I’ll tell you how someone would be able to easily detect it. If it’s so TRIVIAL to do then it should be somewhat TRIVIAL for you to explain how one would go about it. You don’t even have to write the code. You just have to explain, in some degree of detail, how one rigs the game without it showing up as rigged when being analyzed via hand histories and such.

    You claim this is impossible. I say it is TRIVIAL. I am not claiming it is being done, but that it could easily be done. You claim that it is DEFINITELY NOT being done, with no evidence to back up your claims. You simply demand that others with no access to the code must prove their allegations.

    No, what I’ve said is that if it was being done then the programmers basically own the company. What I’ve said is that doing this is NON-TRIVIAL. What I said is that the motivations not to rig the game are so overwhelming that it’s highly, highly unlikely that anyone would do it. Go back and read the post.

    I play poker online. I don’t NECESSARILY believe that the sites are cheating players. I do however, believe, that it would be programmatically TRIVIAL to do, and that one day (if that day hasn’t already arrived) it WILL be done.

    Well, you still have yet to give me a reason why they would do it. Doing the kind of stuff that it would take to rig the game (which contrary to your completely misinformed point of view is not TRIVIAL) typically ends up costing lengethening the time to play each hand which reduced the overall rake.

    And if your argument is that the casino is simply in the business of creating armies of non-losing players, you still haven’t given me a reasonable scenario. Ok, Party has 50,000 players online playing on a given evening; how big of an army would they have to have to even generate enough money that it wouldn’t look like a rounding error compared to the amount of rake they’re taking in?

    It’s the old catch-22:

    If they’re rigging games or creating unbeatable armies they have to do it at the lowest limits where the players are the most inexperienced and unable to catch on. If they did it at higher limits, most of these folks have played enough poker that they know when there’s a fix on the game. So if they only fix the smaller games, what the hell is the point since the amount of money they can make is so TRIVIAL?

    If they were that hard up to make the chump change they could make doing what you say, they could just whack 5 seconds off the time to act clock and double what they could make by having even a small army of unbeatable players fishing around the $3/$6 tables.

    As a player, I don’t much care if it is the HOUSE stealing from me, or other players that the house lets in. In either case, to a player, that seems “rigged.” And I think that’s the sense that others are saying the word “rigged.”

    Oh please. I’ve taken your exact words in which you say that rigged implies a house fix. Don’t try to wiggle around definitions because you found out how quickly your statements crumble when exposed to a little reason and logic. I have said it again and again and again and again . . . I’m talking about the sites rigging the game. I might do a post on player vs. player cheating but 99.99999999999999999% of the people who say that online poker is rigged are claiming that the site itself is rigged so I go where the claim is aimed.

    Player vs. player cheating has been going on since the first card was pitched in the air. And just like the catch-22 I pointed out earlier, the higher the limits the quicker those folks get uncovered so they tend to scam the low limits which can’t be much of a business model. Wow! He’s scaming an entire BB per hour off of the table. Wooo Hooo! That’s like $6 an hour.

    Does “house” cheating occur. Well, there have been many, many, regulated casinos where house cheating has been found and prosecuted, even though those casinos were making MILLIONS. Statements such as those you proffer that it would add a “rouding error” to their profits is to discount human greed, which history has shown to be BOUNDLESS.

    Just like over-active imaginations. I have never, ever said there is no site anywhere that isn’t cheating. What I have said is that given all of the variables, it’s highly unlikely that most online casinos would cheat. Your entire position seems to be that because you think it would be TRIVIAL (a position that happen to be wrong about) that it’s profitable. You have yet to demonstrate that.

    Also, I would note how TRIVIAL it is to CLAIM that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is auditing your shuffle, the fairness of your game, etc., without such statements being true.

    It’s as trivial as one calling themselves a pundit on a subject they seem to know very little about.

    Some site in Grenada claiming they are audited is unconvincing “evidence.”

    Have you CALLED PriceWaterhouseCoopers to verify these claims?

    Maybe you should.

    No, you dolt, I haven’t called them. I have enough trust in PriceWaterhouseCoopers desire to protect their brand that they could sue any company, anywhere that I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt until I hear evidenece to the contrary. You’re the one with paranoid dellusions. You’re the one who has done nothing but throw out speculation after speculation. Why haven’t YOU called them? You’re the one who keeps proposing that it’s rigged. You’re the one proposing that the site has mis-used the PriceWaterhouseCoppers logo and name. You’re the one who has the burden of demonstrating that what you say is true. Just capitalizing the word TRIVIAL in your comments doesn’t make something TRIVIAL. You call it TRIVIAL because it’s an easy way of getting out of explaining how it would be done.

    No, you don’t have access to the source code but show me a business model where it’s profitable. Show me a faked audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Show me something other than your paranoid rants.

  • Bill

    Poker Pundit:

    A few years back, it was not uncommon for the online casino’s to have “house players” or “shills” who would be paid to “start” tables to get others to sit at them.

    You do realize that live casinos do this too, don’t you? Paying players an hourly fee and giving them 100% rakeback to risk their own money is not harmful to the game. The casino has no real stake in who wins or loses. They simply have paid people to play in order to help fill up tables.

    And one of the reasons this happens both online and in live casinos is because most players are scared of playing shorthanded. The “shill” ends up playing mostly shorthanded games, has to move if a table gets too juicy, and has to play at whatever limits they tell him to play at.

    I actually know people who have been shills at both live and online casinos and I can assure you that they didn’t get rich off of the experience.

    Bill

  • pokerpundit

    Bill,

    A few years back, it was not uncommon for the online casino’s to have “house players” or “shills” who would be paid to “start” tables to get others to sit at them.

    Is that rigged? Is it rigged when the house is paying players to play, without that knowledge being given to the other players?

    Just a thought I’d like to hear your opinion on.

  • pokerpundit

    Bill,

    Thanks for your reply, but you haven’t addressed my points.

    I never said it would be trivial to program a “bot”. I said it would be trivial for a poker site to program a HOUSE PLAYER that could not lose. I say they could easily create ARMY’s of players that do not lose.

    You claim this is impossible. I say it is TRIVIAL. I am not claiming it is being done, but that it could easily be done. You claim that it is DEFINITELY NOT being done, with no evidence to back up your claims. You simply demand that others with no access to the code must prove their allegations.

    I play poker online. I don’t NECESSARILY believe that the sites are cheating players. I do however, believe, that it would be programmatically TRIVIAL to do, and that one day (if that day hasn’t already arrived) it WILL be done.

    As a player, I don’t much care if it is the HOUSE stealing from me, or other players that the house lets in. In either case, to a player, that seems “rigged.” And I think that’s the sense that others are saying the word “rigged.”

    Does “house” cheating occur. Well, there have been many, many, regulated casinos where house cheating has been found and prosecuted, even though those casinos were making MILLIONS. Statements such as those you proffer that it would add a “rouding error” to their profits is to discount human greed, which history has shown to be BOUNDLESS.

    Also, I would note how TRIVIAL it is to CLAIM that PriceWaterhouseCoopers is auditing your shuffle, the fairness of your game, etc., without such statements being true.

    Some site in Grenada claiming they are audited is unconvincing “evidence.”

    Have you CALLED PriceWaterhouseCoopers to verify these claims?

    Maybe you should.

  • joe zuilek

    Well this argument about online honesty is a joke,I have been dealing for 20 years and playing for about 35 years and I can tell you positively it is a set up.There is nothing the same between online and live poker.They are as differint as night and day.I have tried all the top sites and there all the same.Rigged is to put it lightly..You people who dont believe it are either liars,site employees,or fools who dont have enough time in live games to know the differince.I wouldnt even bother to go into bad beat stories,I dont type fast enough.Bill you always use prove it to debate anything,thats an easy way out.I say to you prove that it isnt..Dont you people get it,the fact that hundreds of thousands of people feel they are being cheated proves it alone.I have been in las vegas for years at a time and I have never heard anybody say they are getting cheated in the casinos,other than your occasional nut.you never here it about atlantic city,mississippi,monte carlo,etc,etc,ect.Why is that bill? Because the only place people are getting cheated is on the online poker rooms.Bill we have bad beat jackpots that go on for months sometimes before there hit.Online you see that type of beat every couple of hours just at the table you at..this view is not coming from a player who lost and is mad..I have taken 2000 dollars off party poker and deposited 1900 back to them in 100 and 200 dollar deposits..The reason I quit is I came to realize that my winning or losing had nothing to do wiht my playing so it was no fun.They have to let everyone take turns winning or the good players would have all the bad players money and the site would lose big time.Dont you people get it,if the bad players dont win the will go and thats it.aces on every other flop,all in winning %,s wat to high,flush draws on flops way to much,pocket aces,vs.poket kings way to much.Play high/lo and see all the low cards in everyones hands all the time.It goes on and on.Please dont be so stupid people,millions of people are not screaming wolf because they lost a few dollars.we had a customer come in our casino about a month aga and screamed he was being cheated because he was down 7ooo dollars..he said all the cards were not there..The gaming board came down to the casino floor right away and stopped the game and the dealed had to seperate all 6 decks and spread them out in front of the player and everybody else to show all the cards were there.The customer then said he was sorry to everyone and the game went on..All these sites are aware of the bad press they get so if they were honest they would have proven it a long time ago themselves.The fact that online pokersites havent stepped up themslves to prove everyone wrong says it all..they havent stepped up because they cant..
    if it looks like a cheat,and smells like a cheat,and sounds like a cheat,guess what people.they are all cheats.they dont want just the rake they want everything..There has never been any unregulated buisness that has been honest in the history of the world and you want me to believe the first one is a online poker site out of the country!!! please
    Bill I dare you to post this one and see what reaction you get.I probably wont see it posted if I guess right..Who do you work for bill? partypoker or UB

    joe

  • Nick

    Who are you and what have you done with Babyurl?

  • Bill

    Bob,

    Some people are just idiots. I’ve seen some amazingly boneheaded moves both in live games as well as online. Sometimes it works out for them but most of the time it doesn’t.

    After you’re done cursing Mr. 35o, spend a few moments thanking your favorite diety that people like him exist because you’ll eventually make a lot of money off people like that.

    Bill

  • Bob Carroll

    Read the entire article about why on line poker is NOT rigged. It was unbelievably thorough. It gave me a better understanding of why I had suspicions and why they are unfounded.
    PLEASE answer this 1 question. I am heading for the final table in a tourney on pokerstars, I am all in with pocket AA, 2nd player calls, and 3rd player goes all-in. Player # 3 has risked the entire tourney against 2 others with 35o?? Flop is 246 ! WHAT GIVES?
    Thanks for the great article.

  • Bill

    Uh, ok Neo. We’re just trying to find the keymaker first.

  • This man

    You are all fucking idiots if you listen to this man’s ramblings.

    You cannot determine whether the shit is rigged by ANY inductive-statistical model without MASSIVE amounts of empirical data, not just loose theory and hypothetical mathematics.

    If you want to know whether the system is rigged, you have to know the system. There’s a reason people who work for a business often cannot participate in “special offers”… and it’s not just a matter of PR.

    We are inside the peanut shell of their machine. Get to the source if you want to know the TRUTH about whether it is “rigged”.

  • Jay

    Bill,
    This is an awesome follow up of your other rigging poker blog post. I really like your point of how if the cards were dealt for alot of action there would be less action; because of the big bets in the beginning and less people seeing the flop which means less chasing. And chasing leads to the big pots and the poker rooms love that.

  • Bill

    Well, you do make an attempt at a logical debate but then you go off on a little tangent there talking about collusion by players. I love the fact that you say:

    I also notice that you limit your discussions to the question of whether the site itself is “stealing” from players

    And then end your post with:

    “Rigged” is a loaded word. It implies that the casino itself is cheating;

    Duh! I can do plenty of posts of collusion, bots, and other things that give one player an unfair advantage over another. But the title of this post is about “Rigged” games which as even you point out, has to do with whether or not the casino is rigging the game.

    So, let’s talk about what this thread is about and the so called “rigging” allegations. I’ll answer your first point regarding why don’t the casinos prove their honesty by telling you that they do. Do you see those little badges most sites have saying “Audited by PriceWaterhouse”? That means some third party has come in and verified that it’s a fair game. If each casino were to just release a billion hands worth of hand histories to the general public it would have a very negative impact on the playing public. As it stands now, people buy and sell hand history databases and the online casinos have attempted to put a stop to that as most players prefer not to have every game they’ve played being available to other people to analyze. Sure, people can analyze your play while you’re at the table with them but usually not every game, every session. Besides, the bigger issue is that for a casino to release hand histories they would have to show every player’s cards. Most people would prefer not having every hand they’ve ever played shown with their exact hole cards. That’s also another reason the online casinos have come out against database selling. If you combine enough databases from different players you can make educated guesses as to the holdings of the other players who didn’t sell their database.

    Second issue is your assertion online poker companies are not unregulated. For some reason, people seem to think that only US regulation is regulation but every territory that allows online gaming operations has a regulatory commission.

    You say it would be trivial to create a bot that never loses? Really? I’m sure there are a lot of companies that would like to talk to you because NOBODY HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO CREATE SUCH A THING!!!!! Not even the best AI researchers in the world have been able to create a bot that can beat the best human players. Back before the online casinos got hip to bots, I ran into several players that I’m 100% convinced were bots and I won far more than my fair share of hands against them.

    Even the commercial bots like WinHoldEm haven’t been able to crack the middle and high limit games ($10/$20 and above). In fact, most can’t even match the win rate of a decent player of 2BB an hour. Most barely squeek out a profit of 0.5BB – 1BB per hour but work on the assumption that since they require no intervention they can play for many, many hours at those low win rates which would be the equivilent of a skilled player playing about 1/2 to 1/4 of the time the bot needs to play.

    But, you throw out a hypothetical and offer no proof or even analysis of it so there’s not much for me to debate you on except for the factual errors in your statements. For instance, why would Party poker want to put a bot on their site to play $2/$4 hold ’em? They are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Unless they were to unleash an army of bots, the additional revenue would be nothing more than a rounding error on their books.

    All in all, you’re arguments are nothing more than a collection of inaccurate facts and hypothetical musings. When a definition doesn’t suit you, you change it. When facts don’t support your views, you make up new ones. I can’t and won’t debate you on this any further until you come up with something more than pure speculation.

  • pokerpundit

    Bill,

    I’ve read many times your detailed explanations of why online poker sites cannot be “rigged.”

    One of your favorite arguments is that, because nobody ever provides emperical evidence in the form of hand histories, that their arguments cannot be considered.

    Allow me to posit a different view: online poker sites could easily dispel this argument by themselves releasing their entire hand history databases.

    Online poker sites are unregulated entities organized in far off places free from any risk of investigation by US authorities. They are, thus, free to rig games at their whim. The technological capability to do this is trivial, despite your claims.

    For example, if I was an unscrupulous poker site operator, it would be trivial to program a “player” who doesn’t lose, but who quietly rakes in pot after pot; with the occasional loss to make it look good.

    I could change that players name every day and just have him cruise different tables at different limits, scooping pot after pot. I could have many of these players and nobody would be the wiser.

    Trivial right? So, who can say whether it’s occurring or not? Nobody, that’s who.

    I’m not suggesting that it is happening, but a lot of your arguments above are along the lines of “there isn’t enough programming” to rig a poker site. But clearly, it would be an easy task.

    I also notice that you limit your discussions to the question of whether the site itself is “stealing” from players, but you rarely address the question of whether a site is rigged, not by the house, but by the players inside the house.

    For example: I know for a fact that many players at PokerStars play on teams and split their winnings. Is this “rigged?” Well, I guess if you lost to one of these players, you could certainly make a reasonable argument that it is rigged.

    Many players are allowed to break the very rules of the casino; rules such as not changing screen names, discussing hands in action, etc., etc.

    Rule #16 at Stars says that players may not discuss the contents of their hands while action is occurring; yet this rule is broken time and again, and Stars does not enforce this rule.

    Rigged?

    If players are allowed to break the rules with impudence, one might come to the reasonable assumption that the play is not “fair” and so is thus “rigged.”

    Is it rigged if “players” are using “bot” software that has hand-sharing capabilities? Surely you would agree that this is occurring at all online poker sites. They all claim to have countermeasures in place; why is there a need? Because people are using such software, that’s why. And successfully. They are demonstrating it to major market media publications in live demonstrations which show that online sites cannot stop them.

    So, I ask: Is it rigged?

    “Rigged” is a loaded word. It implies that the casino itself is cheating; but there are many ways to be cheated at a poker table, and every one of them are in practice at every online card room.

    Player beware.

  • Bill

    Not sure if you’re tracking with me here, Randy. Nobody has ever submitted more than 10 hands to me or on any message board I’ve ever seen. 30,000 hands isn’t going to *prove* anything but it would be a good starting off point. At least one could say “Hmmm, now that’s interesting. Let’s keep collecting hands and see where this goes.”

  • Randy

    Well how many people have submitted ANY hand histories in the thousands? You can say none either because they don’t bother or that there are no anomalies. It really doesn’t matter which you choose. But if there are anomalies over 30,000 hands would you need to expand that inquiry before giving any validation to any suspicious trends?

  • Bill

    Randy,

    No, I don’t think we’re making the same point. Somewhere between someone retelling their bad beat story from last night’s session and infinity is a number of hands that would be construed as a large enough sample size. It’s not true that no one person or persons would gathers a large enough sample size. I easily can gather 20,000 or 30,000 hand histories simply by opening up a bunch of windows of one of my favorite poker rooms and letting Poker Tracker datamine 48 hours straight.

    There is a sample size large enough and that number is about 30,000 hands. If someone could produce 30,000 hands and demonstrate anamolies then my interest would perk up a bit.

    30,000 hands isn’t a lot of hands. In fact, it’s a minimal number that is still large enough to begin to show any sort of trend. If someone tells me that their a winning poker player and is basing that on 10,000 hands worth of play then I would normally dismiss the person for not yet having a large enough sample size.

    Bill

  • Randy

    Good Reply Bill,

    You are basically making the point that I was trying to agree with you on. The reason it will not ever be proved is because of the required sample size and the basic laziness of the average person (poker player). No one person or persons will gather a big enough sample that will have numbers that sway to the wrong side of the expected results. This is where I think we definately agree.

  • BruinEric

    Great minds think alike because the articles on my “Is Online Poker Safe” site have been touching on many of these same points. http://www.isonlinepokersafe.com/

    It will come as no surprise to you that no one has done review of their hand histories for me. It took me a short amount of time to analyze over 30k flops on Party to determine if they are too flush rich. But no one cares to present facts to the contrary to me either.

    Lots of people will tell you “don’t even bother…” But the articles confirming the general safety of playing online poker are important. For every “Party is Rigged” theorist are 9 others who see it in the pokerroom chat box. And of those 9 others is at least one person who is bothered and concerned.

    A great number of my hits come from google searches. And people ARE searching for information on whether poker site shuffling algorithms are fair. So keep posting on this topic. Lots of lurkers read these posts to assuage their fears.

  • Bill

    Randy,

    I don’t believe that to be accurate. If a disgruntaled gambler sued a Las Vegas casino saying that the roulette wheel was rigged, the casino would be able to demonstrate that given a large enough sample size, it displayed properties of being fair. That doesn’t mean it is fair. It just means it shows the generally accepted definition of being fair. Now the court would ask the disgruntled gambler to show his proof that the wheel was rigged and he would have to do something more than say “Well your honor, I lost on my lucky number 16 three times in a row.”

    Empirical evidence is what the casino presented. They say that if the wheel has 36 numbers the chances of the ball landing in any one number is 1 out of 36. If you spin the wheel a million times you should not see a distribution where black five comes up 999,999 times. That would indicate the wheel was unfair. On the other hand, every number doesn’t have to hit exactly 27,777.777777777777777 (1 million / 36) times either. Some numbers might be slightly higher and some slightly lower. But as long as those over and under 27,777 are within an expected range of statistical variance (usually 6 sigma given a large enough sample size), most people would agree that the wheel is fair.

    As I said in a previous post, it’s not easy to prove a negative. It’s difficult to prove that online poker is not rigged. All you can do is present the hand histories and show that they fall within expected norms. However, it’s every easy to show that online poker is rigged (if it is) by showing statistical variances that are highly improbable. Getting dealt pocket aces once in every 220 hands is normal. Getting pocket aces five times in 220 hands is odd but one would hope that over a larger sample size (say 100,000 or 1,000,000 hands) that the ratio would approach the statistical norm (220/1). If the site is rigged, those statistical anomolies will not approach the norms and there will be patterns which do not appear to be a normal random distribution.

    I would even be happy if someone said that they intend to prove online poker is rigged by demonstrating that this random selection of 1,000,000 hands shows patterns that fall signficantly outside the statistical norms. Then, at least, we could debate what the norms are and whether or not the numbers are in or out of the range of expected values. The problem is, I have yet to see one person EVER come to this argument with anything more than a handful of bad beat hand histories. Hell, at this point, I would take a mere 10,000 randomly selected hands. I mean, I can show you 50,000 Poker Tracker collected hands and demonstrate that all the results are within the expected norms, why can’t those who claim otherwise come to the table with a sample of data that demonstrates their supposed anomoly?

    Bill

  • Bill

    DuggleBogey,

    Actually, you have no idea how many angry emails my “poker is not rigged” posts have generated. They read them. They simply refuse to believe.

    Too many foreheads, not enough shovels.

    Bill

  • Randy

    edit: The problem is there will never be proof of either side (not site)

  • Randy

    Good points, but don’t go holding your breath for that empirical evidence. (not that means that it is or is not rigged) Unless someone has a hand history with 5 kings or 14 cards of a suite then there will never, ever be proof of online poker being rigged. The problem is there will never be proof of either site: it is rigged/ it isn’t rigged; because the point is if it can happen (ie: only 52 cards in play) it will happen and it cannot be proven as rigged, but merely “random”.

  • DuggleBogey

    Fantastic post with only one major flaw.

    You are totally preaching to the choir. Anyone who reads the entire, well reasoned and rational discussion will already be on your side. The retarded jerk-offs who think online poker is rigged won’t make it through.

    I do have an obvious solution. A shovel to the forehead.

  • Drizztdj

    Excellent observation Bill!

    I think the other problem is most players don’t have the proper protective psychological gear to play poker and tend to get injured easily.

    I could probably pull my PT stats from my last 30 tournies and show everyone that I busted 27 times due to losing a coin flip and/or money in with a favorite, but that’s statistically insignificant. The tinfoil hat fanatics don’t understand that.

  • ToddCommish

    Your entire argument can be summed up in one sentence, found almost at the end of your NaNoWriMo-length entry.

    “People hate to admit failure.”

    I’m not a loser, but I lost. Ergo, someone else cheated. (See also: Gore, Al)

  • Brian

    Thats quite a novel to read 15 minutes after waking up.. Very thoughtful.. But my pocket twos keep getting busted.. poker is rigged. :P

  • Bill

    Right you are Sparky. I should proof these posts before I hit submit :-) Problem corrected . . . I think.

  • Sparky

    Ahhh. A pleasant, well-reasoned interlude of reality in the “poker is so rigged!” so-called controversy. Bless you, sir.

    (one minor nit: four tables of $3/6 with a $150 buy-in would put $600 in play, not $450 – right? Don’t give ’em any ammo. ;) )

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