After working so hard to make it on my top ten list Ed Miller seems to have posted something that I disagree with.

It’s the dreaded “online poker is rigged” argument again. Granted, Ed doesn’t say that online poker is rigged but he does stir up the pot a bit. He goes as far as saying that it can be done and an online poker site might do it. Here we have two different questions. The first is whether or not it’s possible and the second is whether or not a site would do it.

In taking on the second question, I’ve always approached this question from the standpoint of a medium or large site. If a player is going to get himself involved with some no-name poker room then it’s a crap shoot. Most people aren’t complaining about rigged games at no-name card rooms. The vast majority of online poker is rigged claims come from people playing on the top 10 rooms.

So, if we’re talking about a top ten room then I would say that the motivation for rigging the game favors not rigging it. As I articulate in a previous post there are so many other ways for a poker room to increase its profits from you that are entirely legitimate. And if you took the time to brainstorm a bit I’m sure you could come up with ten or fifteen more suggestions of minor tweaks the room could make to the game that would generate more hands per hour and/or more profits for the room. Until someone can answer for me why a room would go to all of the trouble to rig the game before having exhausted these other much more simple methods then I simply cannot buy this argument as being logical. Granted, a poker room might act in an illogical manner but if we’re to assume that all actors act in a logical manner then this doesn’t hold up.

The other part of Ed’s argument is that it’s even doable. Of course it’s doable but let’s put the caveat on there that you need to be able to do it AND not get caught. That caveat presents an entirely different problem.

Now, Ed is a man who isn’t exactly ignorant when it comes to software engineering. He has two degrees from M.I.T and used to work as a software engineer at Microsoft. So it’s deceptively easy for one to simply accept it as fact when he says creating a system that could do all of this rigging would be rather trivial. However, I’m not one to simply accept an argument simply based on the source. I put it back to anybody who claims that this would be trivial to at least outline how they would go about solving the problem without getting caught.

See, that’s the one thing missing from every argument from a software engineer regarding building such a system. There’s always some guy who says “I’ve been a coder for a jazillion years and this would be easy.” Okay then, tell me how.

There are some fundamental problems in designing a system that needs to escape detection. First thing off the bat is that such a system would need to follow certain rules in order to determine who to rig the game in favor of and how to rig the games. My theory here is that given a large enough sample size detectable patterns would emerge. So if it is trivial to design such a system then it should be equally as trivial to explain how one avoids creating patterns in the data.

One of the other factors such an argument fails to properly consider is that over 90% of poker players are break-even or losing poker players. So what exactly is a fish? How are you going to rig the game in favor of the fish when there are so many fish and so few sharks? How would you determine which players to rig the action for and which one’s to shaft?

These are the types of questions those who claim it is a trivial task never answer. I would love to see someone draw up a hypothetical model. That would at least be a step in the right direction for those who advocate that online poker is or can be rigged.

I’ll repeat a point I made in Ed’s comments. It is very easy to rig a single hand. It is more difficult but relatively easy to rig the game for a specific player. However it is far, far more complex to rig the game in favor of thousands of poor players.

Just think about the number of hands that have to be rigged. Every time you rig a hand you have to create one or more offsetting rigs so as not to create easily detectable patterns. Eventually, you’re rigging the outcome of every hand dealt.

I do agree that it is possible. I’m sure if you designed an entire system around rigging games it could be done. Like they say about almost anything in technology; given enough time, money, and resources anything is possible. The question is whether or not it’s practical.

29 thoughts to “Online Poker Isn’t Rigged . . . Again!

  • Darren Michaels

    got some more for you. played for about 30 mins on pokerstars.
    flopped straight, lost to turned full house (this was 10s vs kings vs KQ with a flop of 10 9 J – now that is an action flop)
    lost with 9s vs 10s
    flopped a set and lost to runner runner flush (guy called a pot sized bet on flop and turn)
    flopped tptk, lost to a flopped 2 pair.

    There are some times that the sites decides you will lose.

  • Darren Michaels

    I have played over 20 different rooms and fully believe some are “at it”. As someone said below, there is a pattern. win when you first join and then the bad beats start.
    I was playing 6 max sng on one site and won half of my first 30 games. after that i went 30 without a single cash.
    just given up on a site where i luckily won my first 10 man sng and then got knocked out of 3 consecutive sngs when all in and 70% fav.
    Gave up on another site when going from 2-1 chip lead heads up to bust in 2 hands after running into pocket aces in CONSECUTIVE HANDS.
    Gave up on full tilt after seeing a 3 way flop where 2 people flopped different sets and the 3rd flopped a straight. 3 perfect cards were required and they all came out. you also see suspicious play where players call pot sized bets with nothing only to hit runner-runner or a 2,3 or 4 outer.

    To say sites wouldnt take the risk or are making enough money are naively ignoring the human trait GREED. There are plenty of examples of legit companies breaking the law just to get a little bit more.

    I know these things can happen, i know bad beats happen but they happen far too often to not look suspicious. These examples are just the final straw and not isolated incidences.

  • GM

    I have heard a lot of good points made in this thread. Since a lot of them, tho, were repeated often, I’ll try to stick to ones that weren’t discussed as much. First of all, some people make it really easy for sites or other players to say that the site isn’t rigged, and say that they are just really bad players. People that think AA is an unbeatable hand, and people that play lots of bad cards, lose lots of hands due to bad play, and start screaming that the site must be rigged. People like that take away credibility of solid players, who are saying the same thing, but for much different reasons.

    AA is in no way an unbeatable hand. The average winning hand is 2 pair, so if your AA doesn’t improve to more than just one pair, by the river, odds are pretty good that you’re gonna lose. Donks get AA and slow play so badly, that they end up in showdowns against 2 or 3 other players. The more ppl in the hand also increases the chances that you’ll lose, especially w/ just AA.

    Other people will play bad cards, like Q-7, &, K-10, and even much worse, then wonder why their top pair/weak kicker didn’t hold up against the guy w/ 15 outs. Again, they’re screaming that it’s rigged, while everyone else knows that that’s not why they’re losing.

    I truly wonder about the ppl that argue for the sites and swear up & down that they aren’t rigged, tho, when it’s so obvious, to solid players w/ live poker experience, that something’s not right. Sure, some of them are ppl that see the really bad ppl screaming rigged all the time, and some are ppl that work for the sites, either directly or indirectly(meaning either on the payroll or writing articles like this), some are maybe ppl that play on high stakes tables, where you see a lot fewer suck outs, cuz ppl are better and aren’t chasing 2 and 3 outters, and there are ppl that want to look like winning players, so they jump on chances to call ppl donks, like when a solid player loses a hand where they were 90% favorites to win, after the turn, and lost to a somebody chasing that miracle card.

    Those are the ones that are winning more hands than they actually should be. Getting called a donk and a bad player, even when you know you are a solid live player, and that you are losing a lot more than you should be, can really affect you. I’ve had times when I really questioned my skill, and started thinking that maybe it was my play, and not the site setting me up. Then, one day, I was in some forum like this, arguing about the same thing. This one guy was swearing that it wasn’t rigged, and that I must be a bad player, and everyone else was backing him up, all jumping on me. Now, I knew that a lot of those ppl probably felt the same way as me, but just didn’t want to be called bad players just cuz they said it was rigged. I was feeling really discouraged.

    But THEN, me and that one guy started sending private messages, cuz he actually thought that maybe he could “help me become a better player”. Well, come to find out, he had ONLY been playing for A FEW YEARS, and ONLY online. He had almost NO live experience, but yet he was swearing that online poker was no different than live poker. And THIS was a guy making ME question MY skills, after playing live poker for 10 years, most of them in prison, where we played from breakfast until lock down, so I know how often certain hands, like runner runner, should hit. THAT guy had the nerve to argue for the sites, when he had hardly ever even played live. ????

    Now, most polls that I’ve seen in forums like this, as to whether online poker is rigged or not, are usually pretty even, like 50%/50%. But how many of those ppl that are saying that it isn’t rigged, either wouldn’t know even if it was, or are ppl that have motives to lie?

    I very seldom slow play AA or KK, and I usually win with those hands, even if it’s just the blinds or a small pot. But hands like A-K or A-Q, I only win cuz I steal the blinds or cuz I bluff. When I have those hands, only small cards come, and the times when I DO flop one of my cards, the ONLY other person in the hand w/ me will flop at least 2 pair, if not a set or a straight or better.

    That’s the rig that I see the most, where the other person seems to always hit his cards, and I lose w/ hands like A-K to hands like Q-5. Sure, I lose to flopped sets and trips when I have an over pocket pair, too, and it’s always that ONE other person that’s in the hand. If you’re allowing 3 or 4 ppl to see the flop w/ you, then your odds of winning are greatly reduced, no matter what cards you have. But when you’re raising pre-flop, so that only 1 0r 2 ppl are in the hand w/ you, your stronger hands should win a large percentage of the time against weaker hands. Notice that I said PERCENTAGE of times, not AMOUNT of times, cuz that’s their biggest defense, that you see MORE hands online, so you’ll see more BAD BEATS online. And that IS true. But the percentage of times should stay around the same, whether you play 100 hands or a 1000 hands.

    I play mostly cash games, micros, cuz there’s just way too much variance in the tourneys. Plus, you’ll get great hands when they don’t matter, but lose w/ monster hands when they DO really matter, so you can play great poker the whole tourney, but w/ 1 or 2 well placed bad beats, you’re gone.

    I do usually play tourneys about once a day or so, tho, and I really can’t believe the amount of bad hands that I’ve been receiving lately. I’ve actually had 2 or 3 days in a row, where I’d go whole tourneys w/o even one pocket pair or A-K. I mean, literally, over 100 hands in a row, w/o any playable hands. Just folding and stealing pots the whole time. I think that’s REALLY strange, tho, cuz usually, they’ll make sure you get certain hands the correct percentage of times, just so if you DO send in a hand history, they can say that the percentages were correct. It’s easy for them to show that you got AA the correct amount of times, but a lot harder for us to show how we always seem to run into bad beats at exactly the worst times possible.

    People can say that it’s not rigged all they want to, but I would love for somebody to sit in front of the computer w/ me for a few hours, and then dare to say it’s not. I wish I had all the things that record the play on my computer, in real time, like I see ppl on youtube with, so that not only could I show ppl the things that are happening on ONE table, I could ALSO show them how much even stranger things were on the 4 or 5 tables, that I usually play at a time. It’s hard to post a bunch of screen shots, cuz then ppl are saying it’s not enough hands to influence the variance, and it’s hard to show how many hands that you lose to bad beats in 1000’s of hand histories. They know that, too, that’s why they always say to show them the histories.

    And why do so many ppl keep playing, if they know it’s rigged? Well, for most ppl, including me, it’s an addiction. Plus, I’m usually a little bit better than a break even player, online, but I always try to move up stakes too fast, cuz I get bored playing smaller stakes, and cuz I want to see if the play gets any better, when you move up, so I never profit consistently. $.50/1.00 is about the highest I’ve played, tho, and I really don’t see much difference between those tables and .02/.04 tables, or between $1 and $11 tourneys.

    I refuse to deposit, tho. I haven’t done so in over 2 years. I just keep going up and down, between $25 and $150. I played that way on FTP and PS for years, then got no deposit bonuses on a couple Merge sites and a Cake site, right before Black Friday, which enabled me to keep playing, even tho I’m U.S. I basically consider it entertainment. It’s definitely not real poker. Most of the time, now, I can see the bad beats coming, know exactly what cards are gonna hit to make me lose, but then just laugh when it happens. Hopefully, cuz of Black Friday, they’ll legalize online poker here in the U.S., and maybe they’ll have real regulation, so that sites can’t just sit out on some island, somewhere in the middle of the ocean, and not have to worry about even if they DO get caught cheating us, cuz they’re out of our jurisdiction. Real sites, w/ real RANDOM cards. Wow, wouldn’t THAT be great? Good luck everybody! See you on the tables!

  • Riggingiseasy

    I won’t say online poker is rigged. Some (most) people shouting “It’s rigged!” are bad losers on a losing streak BUT the old argument of “It’s not practical or profitable for poker sites to rig the game…therefore it’s not rigged” bugs the hell out of me.

    Firstly, major poker sites have been caught cheating before. And major poker sites do not exactly operate within the boundaries of law! This cannot be disputed.

    Secondly, it is VERY easy to write the code to rig the game. And it’s very easy to chose who you rig AGAINST. It’s a simple matter of player profiling. Every player is obviously in the database, and anyone who thinks that poker sites (and various other sites) don’t use their databases to profile their members…is very, very, VERY naive.

    It is incredibly simple to track players habits. It is also easy to know every player’s approximate personal wealth. It’s easy to know a hell of a lot more, but even those two factors alone are enough for the system to make an automated decision on whether to affect the outcome of hands for that player. For example, a player profiled as ‘Likely to deposit regular top-ups when losing’ is surely a great candidate for regularly running into ‘bad beats’. Of course poker rooms want fresh $$ deposited as often as possible.

    As for ‘we’d see patterns emerging’ – Yes we would, and we do… it’s common to hear players who claim the game is rigged talk about similar patterns to one another. The problem is that poker is partly luck, and that magic ‘luck’ word can be used to explain any outcome, as long as the outcome is ‘possible’ no matter how high the odds against it. Online poker rooms often go against the odds.

    Another thing about poker, which makes a wonderful ally for poker rooms IF they are rigging, is that players who’s luck holds (those who ‘run good’) cannot even begin to believe that the game might be rigged, because that goes against human nature. So even a player who once felt the game might be rigged, will change his mind during a time when he is winning…because we want to believe that we played well, and that the simple act of playing well outweighs any luck factor…and that if we lose now and then, it’s just ‘variance’. And sometimes it probably is, because it is most likely that IF a poker room rigs the game, they will not rig the game all the time or for every player.

    So to recap the FACTS – We’re talking about massive corporations who –
    – Operate on the edge of, or way outside, the law
    – Have been CAUGHT rigging games in the past
    – Employ very clever technical staff, easily capable of rigging games, and those staff are sworn to secrecy under contract with the threat of crippling law suits (I know this to be true).

    With those FACTS it’s perhaps harder to believe that these sites might be honest.

    Until a detailed investigation is performed, it isn’t possible to know whether online poker is rigged generally. It is only possible to KNOW that it COULD be and HAS been in the past.

  • Hello

    “then why can’t an online poker site make the odds just slightly different than the odds in a live game – since the odds would STILL be overall better than most gambling games.”

    I will answer my own question. They could – so long as they were to come clean about it. Let people know that (if it’s true that it’s rigged) that the odds are less than what we actually know the odds to be by the rules of the game.

    Just like cigarette companies were forced to come clean about adding additives to natural tobacco make cigarettes burn faster – so that they’d sell more quantities of them since your smoke basically smokes itself these days. Poker sites (IF they indeed do this) should come clean that they give a slightly higher edge to a poor hand that that should by the rules of the game only win say 2% of the time before the river – it will win say 8% of the time (or whatever). In this case it would be opposite the cigarette analogy. They want to stretch out the time it takes to win from a fish – because the longer it takes (in cash games anyway) the more rakes from both sides.

    This is just one possibility – I am not saying that the rigging isn’t more intricate – just saying it doesn’t necessarily have to be in order to be effectively producing more rakes in a basically undetectable way.

  • Hello

    Saying Online Poker sites wouldn’t rig because the risk of getting caught is too large and it would ‘hurt’ their business and their reputation is akin to saying the tobacco industry wouldn’t put additives in their cigarettes to make them burn faster (because it lowers the quality)- it makes people consume more cigarettes because they burn faster than they should and despite people being annoyed by this and it lowering the quality of their smoke – that is not the reason anyone quits (if they can).

    People still smoke – and people would still gamble – especially if they are still making a profit off the fish (just not as quickly as they should statistically speaking).

    People are not going to quit online poker if they find out their odds as a skilled player are slightly less than in a live game due to rigging (but still ultimately profitable). Nor are fish going to quit playing as they already know the odds as an unskilled player are less but if the odds favour them a tad more than they should – they will get discouraged less quickly and are therefore more likely to get hooked – play more games – hence develop more rakes through extended playing.

    It makes sense to drag out the time it takes a skilled player to win the unskilled player’s money. The more hands it takes to drain the fish the more rakes the site makes. This leaves skilled players believing online sites are not rigged because they still show a profit – but not as much as fast as they would without the rigging. However it looks unrigged because they can play more hands per hour than in a live unrigged game – so that makes up the difference. They do however pay more into rakes because of this faster speed or multi-tabling.

    Quite honestly I don’t see why an online site would choose NOT to rig ever so slightly. It makes perfect business sense. If it is only slightly rigged to drag out the process – then better players are still going to win in the long run. This would not discourage them – it still beats the odds of trying to win the lotto or keno or roulette.

    It’s maybe good for everybody because even though the odds wouldn’t be quite as favourable in a rigged online site as a live game – you can still make a profit or more because you can play more games per hour. If casinos are allowed to offer slots with everyone knowing the odds are atrociously favoured towards the house – then why can’t an online poker site make the odds just slightly different than the odds in a live game – since the odds would STILL be overall better than most gambling games.

  • Hello

    Firstly – online poker ‘rigging software’ would NOT have to single out fish from sharks. You are right that it would be (more) tricky to program software to profile in this way because skill level in poker is a tad subjective (still it is hardly difficult for a computer software to crunch numbers based on past decisions, wins/losses). However you are wrong to think the software would EVEN HAVE to do this in order to be rigged. All the software has to do is when it comes to a showdown MAKE the odds 1:1 (50/50) … rather than the actual probabilities based on the hands. The rigged component of the game would not be in use most of the time. 50% of the time you give it to the hand that should win statistically speaking the hand you expect to win – and the other 50% of the time you give the only card that will save the hand that shouldn’t win statistically speaking. Or make it 75/25 or something less obvious but still statistically improbable for hands that should say only win 6% of the time. Give them say a 25% chance. In this way the sites keep the poorer players from consistently loosing to superior players after calling and putting money into the pot. In this way they would not need to profile good player from bad players. They just favor the bad hands a little bit more than the probabilities would allow. In this way poorer players which make it all the way to the river with a poorer hand would automatically be statistically rewarded without the need for any profiling.

    They also would not want to ENcourage the poor players to get too good. Otherwise the good players would quit as the rigging would be far too obvious. What do I mean by the sites don’t want to encourage the poor players to get too good? Well when they win 25% of the showdowns they shouldn’t with crap hands (with odd less than 25%) – they begin to feel that luck is a larger component than it actually should be – hence less serious study of the game and it’s probabilities – less incentive to become a shark. This keeps the good players winning most* of the time. But not ALL the times when they should be. Luck plays a part in poker – but over millions of hands the ‘luck’ should be exactly equal to the odds for the hands that were played. Consistent ‘math’ players should come out ahead in cash games against fish providing their bank roll is large enough to sustain them through the ups and downs. Bad beats are to be expected but only within the percentages allowed by the probabilities.

    Lastly I am saying it could be done – not whether it actually is. I don’t know for sure. But let us ponder the likelihood that a multi-billion dollar business would rig to keep poorer players from being adequately discouraged. I think it’s highly likely that they WOULD. Most arguments against the idea that online poker would be rigged use the idea “but if X online poker company got caught it would hurt their business – so that’s why they wouldn’t do it”… Are you KIDDING ME? Yeah RIGHT> People have gambling problems – people know the odds for winning the lotto are like 1 in millions and yet they still play. Poker is less luck than say the lotto – but if the odds are only slightly less in your favor because the site rigs slightly to keep the fish population from dwindling – is that going to stop you? If you are highly skilled and you should win say 70% of the pots. Would you quit if you found out you could only win 60% of the pots with your skill as the extra 10% was going towards fish with hands they wouldn’t win in a live game. No you wouldn’t stop as the odds are still in your favor but only slightly less – but it still beats trying to win the lotto or winning at craps. People still play other casino games with far sparser odds than even rigged poker. It is the nature of humanity.

    If you want and analogy – then think of it this way. A site which doesn’t at least slightly favor the fish would be unsustainable. A healthy starting population of fish would exist – attracting sharks. The sharks would get well fed telling the other sharks about the free lunch. More fish would come and either get eaten instantly or transfer up the food chain into being a shark and predating on fish. The longer this goes on – the more sharks you get and the less fish. The little fish would die out or find more friendly habitat and the sharks would turn to cannibalism and eat each other. Then there would be no fish left and no sharks either – hence no online poker sites, no rakes, no big business.

    What online poker sites probably have to do is level the playing field. Like hunting season or fishing season. Let the fish population spawn for a bit give them a break here and there they shouldn’t get (break ABOVE the lucky breaks dictated by the probabilities of the game itself). Keep the predators in check. Don’t feed the predators too well or soon there will be too many of them and the prey will go extinct – followed shortly thereafter by the predators themselves.

  • Richard Jones

    Ok first am a whining moron? i am 57 years old and recently sold out my business for in excess of 10 million dollars i only mention this so you understand the poker money i will talk about is simply peanuts.I am a uk citizen and poker has been a major hobby for more than 30 years i am a compulsive record keeper and like most i began playing in private home games,lol an uncle gave me “scarne on cards” on my 7th birthday so i will state that almost without exception private games WILL be targeted by cheats at some point, but pure bust out games are rare.
    Now for US players understand that in Europe limit games dont exist its all pot or no limit.The games i played included 7stud 5c draw strip deck 5 card stud {turkish game} and omaha high.
    From my diaries over 12 years i was a little over 23000 pounds in front but with two exceptions the private games were getting a little heavy so i decided to give Casino poker a spin the reason i had not done so before was concern about the quality of the players i would face.I started at the Rainbow in Birmingham sat down with a grand and promptly got slaughtered {outplayed} My next foray was at the Vic in London sit in a medium hold em 500 buy in {never played} go broke try 3 more times on other nights same results well im crap must be eh? Then i find the Sat afternoon 7 card stud game. HELLO this is my milk game in 3 sessions i pick up 17k so perhaps im not an idiot merely IGNORANT remember im self taught no real study.So i discover the Gamblers book shop OH MY GOD Stuart Rueben,Doyle Brunson,Sklansky,T J C etc game theory!!! Remember i have zero ambition to be a pro but in all my hobbies i demand at least a decent standard of myself darts county standard snooker first team of my club golf no chance tried and quit lol
    OK back to poker to explain at the Vic a 250 min sit down means the av stack 1500/2500 500 min av 3000/8000, the !k minimum is the top pro table av stack 25k in these days these are all dealers choice tables any poker player sees if you buy in for the minimum you have no chance.now the 250 is 70% hobby players and 30% junior pros rebuilding their bankroll this is where i begin and over a couple of months {1/2}nights a week lol i have a life im a little down 5k im taking money off the other hobby players but even the junior pro are killing me hmm recrack the books same same then i got handed the biggest favour a poker player ever gave me all the pro players know each other to them we are simply meat lol and they pass info around for each other,now i am not a regular face so when Ross Boatman sat in and muttered to his brother Barney “whats with the new fish” Barney muttered back tight/weak good hearing is invaluable at a poker table!!!
    I quit very shortly after and went back to my records checked and wanted to kick my own arse the pattern was plain.If you want to move up you HAVE to stop thinking of chips as money but as weapons as the pro players do thanks Barney i took that game for over 80k in 5 months including a lot of pro money.I said this is a hobby that 80k sent 4 aid lorries to Romanian orphanages
    Time to try and move up try the 500 now im playing Willie Tann Joe Beavers Derek Vas Barnie Bambas now this is a crack poker is the only game in the world that if you put your money down you can play the best in the world no matter how rich you are you cannot play the American golf open no money can let you play a Wimbledon final,at snooker i have only been able to play one top pro {Ray Readon} Did i make money no did i lose much? no and if i lost well back to the 250
    Did i try the ik table no way not ready yet 100% world class pro so where to gain the experience at high stakes with half a chance?
    Paris The Aviation Club du France my fav poker room Bruno Fitossi runs a great room i spent 3/6 weeks a year playing poker there one week tuning in and the rest playing in the big games. why there.simple even in the biggest games there were other hobby players and at last i sat with 100k in front of me playing David Ulliot,Philip Marmostein,Bruno,George the Greek Gus Hansen,Alain,triple P etc
    I had enormous and very profitable fun for 3 years lol in year 4 Mr Marmostein hit a 3 outer in a 200k pot and sent me home early yes bad beats happen in live games too lol Fine i done what i set out to do and retired from high stakes poker.
    All of this is background i have bricks and mortar poker profits in excess of 460k most of which i gave away that money was won in greasy speilers against gangsters and some in the most elegant card rooms of the world from people who thanks to the tv explosion of poker are now household names.

    At first when comments started to be made about major online poker sites my reaction was simple i was and AM a damn good businessman the sites would have to be INSANE to risk these huge money machines!!! now i am not talking about stolen info to see hand etc that is theft not fraud so i was one of the STRONG defenders that online poker was sound.
    Now i provided my poker history in b/m here is my online history
    Ladbrokes when they had the good omaha games profitable
    Paradise{first time around} profitable
    Pokerstars first two months very profitable after which i have not had a winning month for two years
    Hmmm senility? altzeimers? yet the cash games i continue to play i show a profit 7/10
    Now most of your posters either dismiss concerns as either whiners,crap players,too small samples and most of the comments concern hold em!!! Wrong place to look!!! to many times all the money is in preflop and the variations WILL be huge 5 cards to come!!! now omaha hello pot limit the most common street for the money to move is the turn.ONE card to come now i never have and never will whine about bad beats INDEED by definition the more bad beats YOU get the better player YOU are again using omaha as the example you have got ALL the money in with the best of it.THAT IS WINNING POKER. yet like me you are getting killed month after month
    I have played internet poker right from its inception and i have seen many sites come and go.and the most common cause for a site to be no longer viable? its traffic dies off players stop reloading and the games break why because these newbie players who have invested 1/2/3 hundred dollars have zero chance against the vultures waiting for them{i resemble that remark} in a straight game they are dead meat they may invest once or twice more then thats it
    OK WHY the poker bubble has burst the two poker sites that listed on the London Stock Exchange both issued warnings within two months of their listings that “in the current climate previous growth estimates may prove a little ambitious”OOPS
    We can then look at the {joke}attempts of american lawmakers to prevent Americans playing on line all bad news for the poker sites,lol i did see one comment about credit card fees in the 8/10% range bullshit can i have the job please 3%max
    THERE IS ONLY ONE REASON ANY POKER SITE WILL PLAY SILLY BUGGERS TO STOP NEW PLAYERS LOSING TOO MUCH TOO QUICKLY SURVIVAL
    Do you have any conception in a near saturated market what the cost of a new credit card using player is today,listed companies have to reveal numbers!!!
    5000 DOLLARS PER MEMBER oh dear we just spent 5k lets let the pros f**k him up so he leaves in two weeks YEAH RIGHT

    When Philip put a 3 outer on me for 200large i smiled said nice hand retired to the bar had a large cognac and then threw my guts up thats class POKERSTARS has none i quit

  • wolf

    Given history of greed it would not be surprising if these giant gambling companies did not manipulate the programs. Every one knows that the mathematics of video poker are against you, how ever slight.people pump shitloads of cash into them in our state, what’s funny is they all claim they win…gamblers will gamble. When the poker players alliance was searching for someone wiith standing to bring a lawsuit in response to unlawful gaming act
    …….they couldn’t find anyone(anyone legit), the only real winners at online poker are the sites themselves.

  • Cj

    I quit playing online poker myself because it was driving me insane. I kept noticing the same patterns. When I tried new games/tournaments, I usually did very well. Then I would go on these losing streaks that seemed to defy logic. When I first went to the .50-$1 NLHE cash game, I made a hundred a day for about 20 days straight. Then after cashing half of it out, I lost a hundred a day for about 10 days straight losing it all. I even noticed that when my account was almost finished, when I was all-in with the worst of it, sometimes the cards would start to go my way… The interesting thing is that I was playing the same way. It’s just that when the board was 9QQ, instead of being the guy with pocket nines, I was the guy with AQ. Of course, these things happen. But when improbable hands like that happen on ten consecutive days and all in the same direction, something is awry. So I kept my focus on tournaments… Everyone who has played tournaments on Pokerstars knows that a ridiculous number of aces and flush draws hit the flop. It happens way too often that the flop hits multiple players in one way or another. Profit reason? Simple, end the tournament as quickly as possible to obtain more rake. It seemed that I could almost never bluff on Pokerstars because someone always had it. Even when I was playing heads-up cash, which I seemed to beat pretty quickly, which at my stakes meant profitting a hundred or so after half a day of play, I would lose to players who just shoved it all in with ridiculous aggression, and, sure enough, got sucked out on again and again. But it wasn’t the suck-outs, it was the fact that they happened so frequently in such a short period of time. My experience playing in person has been totally different. Suck-outs are not the norm, but happened at the expected percentages. Everyone goes on losing streaks, but how many live players playing 8 hours a day get hit with a cold deck consistently for 10 days. How many internet players? I lost five out of six flushes that I made during one losing streak online. And everyone who I personally know who has played online poker agrees that it’s rigged. Statistics are so easily manipulated it’s ridiculous. Here are my observations:
    1) Top pros are quickly bought out by the sites so that they won’t speak out against them
    2) Chip leaders are at a huge advantage statistically speaking in tournaments; some people know this and play accordingly; I once played with this guy who once he became chip leader just kept throwing it in with 37 off or whatever he was dealt and just quashed everyone; also, more experienced players stay out of the chip leaders way for the same reasons.
    3) Statistics can be maintained in creative ways; if a system is going to go your way when you first play a game, it’s going to go against you later to even things out; if the system works for you when you’re chip leader, it will work against you when you’re not; it the system rewards you for depositing, it will punish you for cashing out.
    4) Statistics are manipulated more at the lower stakes. When I have played in higher stakes tournaments, the flops and the action are different. At lower stakes tournaments, there is too much action because the flops are juicier. Why? Hook the fish.
    5) The profits clearly make it worth it. Doubling the amount of return players nearly doubles the rake. Creating flops at the cash tables where two players feel compelled to throw all of it in does better than double the rake. Keeping the money going through the site without players taking too much of it home does better than double the rake; in essence, it makes it like a casino game that you can only beat to a certain extend.
    6) The statistics should level out in the long run. In live poker they do. On internet poker they do in the skewed way that I and countless others have mentioned. How many live players cringe when they hold KK and are risking their tournament life against AK? How many internet players do?
    7) There must be a certain level of manipulation that can be obtained that can not be mathematically proven. For instance, if 10 trillion coins are tossed in a row, what’s the highest percentage of tails that can be observed for nothing to be considered awry? 52%? But what’s 2% to a billion dollar company? I don’t care how much you have. 20 million is 20 million.

  • Phil

    Who is poker rigged for? No one. Its even spread. I’ve got a slightly above 50 percent ace ace all in preflop over 2 years. Nothing is more even spread than that. Go check an established pros wins and losses. Notice how most of them record better rois at higher levels. Why? Seems like the exact opposite should happen. When you have to play the cards you can only hope to break even. The less folding there is the less of a chance you have to win. those higher quality opponents at higher levels aren’t chasing one outers as often. I challenge anyone to go find a consistent winner down at the lowest of levels. I looked around at all the stats. Everyone is losing. I mean everyone. Haven’t found a winner yet. All in the negative. Who is winning? Who is capitalizing on all these losses? I’ve got a slight win percentage at five dollar games, better at 10, better still at 20 but lose my ass on the dollar games? they always say the players who craft their skills on the net are uber aggressive. I think they understand. The ones that can get the most folds take the most cash. Simple as that.

  • Phil

    I hate it when people come out with the assumption that people will walk away if a site is rigged. Absolute had its issues and seems to be doing fine. Everyone knows the slots are rigged for a specific amount of payout and they seem to do alright. Ever notice that the ones screaming rig always keep playing. I used to be one of them. I’ve got 3 years of aces 30 percent off from accepted preflop all in win percentage. Corporations like mcdonalds can sell poison because people don’t care, they just want their fix. I’m sure the guys that own the companies are aware that they can get away with murder. Why not skew it a little. I certainly would. In fact the sites that have the american market sowed up, thanks to some coincidentally helpful legislation pushing out competitors, can pretty much do whatever they want. Monopoly anyone? That argument that a site wouldn’t risk it is based on the lie that their is any risk involved. There really isn’t. When you’ve got a monopoly on the game and can spin perception any which way a guy could show up with a legitimate hand history and be laughed away. Believe me I’ve tried.

  • Bill Rini

    Bob,

    Nothing really to respond to. His examples are typical rigtard-speak. All talk and no proof. Getting sucked out on 60% of the time with a flopped boat? Come on, no room would be stupid enough to rig the game like that.

    When you flop a boat and lose to runner runner boat 60 percent of the time or you get dealt qq 108 times and 100 of those times someone else at the table has aa or kk something is definitely wrong.

    Anybody can claim any wild results but where are the hand histories that prove this? Oh . . . they don’t exist. And that’s the problem with 90% of the rigtard posts everywhere on the internet. They make some outrageous claim like the one above but when you say “Great, show me the hand histories,” they either disappear or tell you they don’t have them but you should just trust their memory.

    You’re asking me to respond to something that hasn’t happened.

    As for his assertion about fish needing to win . . . that’s how the business works. The attrition rate in the industry is crazy. Most rooms lose 50% of first time depositors within the first 30 days and the slope stays pretty steep after that.

    So if some room was rigging the game to keep the fish in then they would be experiencing insane growth because the attrition numbers would be flatter thus their Poker Scout stats would show little player attrition while they kept adding new players. Sorry, no room fits that profile.

    Bill

  • Bob Valks

    Hi Bill,

    Please respond to the arguments of Jim Smith..

    Bob

  • Darryl

    The question is asked, “who is OL poker rigged in favour for ?” and “how do sites rig OL poker for some and not others?”. well that’s pretty basic. OL poker is rigged for the site and for no-one in particular (on the software side of things), but the fish do benifit from this in the long run. “Action pots” do this. by creating action pots ie. top pair Vs flush draws post-flop, bigger pots are played (benifiting the site in rake) and making the game statistically more “luck”, which definitly benefits fish. In a game where no-one hits the flop, generally a top player has the advantage and will slowly win a game.
    Reason for sites to do this – Well….. If a site could double the rake on every table increasing profits %100……mmmmmmm, well lets think about that.

  • anon

    Apologies: those last two posts were mine, and were directed to the original article’s author, not comment writers.

  • anon

    There absolutely are sites that are rigged, and running bots, etc. Sunshine-Poker was one (I think I’m remembering the name correctly, it might have been Sunrise-Poker), for example, with almost no through traffic, but that always had some full tables that played like the biggest fish imaginable, and then if you had the poor judgment to deposit funds and play they suddenly turned into the biggest rocks on earth, and played as if they could see your cards.

    That is a documented one, if you go back through RGP threads.

    There absolutely have been rigged online sites. But it’s not a question of whether there’s one type of rigging or another, but of what one would expect reality to dictate. Reality tends to argue for the existence of some form of “rigging.” Belief, of course, is a function of desire, however, for most people

  • anon

    You’re not thinking straight, especially not in light of the UB scandal (perpetrated by the previous owners, who by some accounts — see 2 + 2 boards — remain the current owners, behind the scenes. The past owners, specifically Russ Hamilton, reportedly cheated players out of millions.

    The argument should actually be this: THE BEST WAY TO MAXIMIZE PROFITS is ultimately to maximize the rake. The problem a poker room faces is that its customer base can never be large enough (there’s always more money to be made), and that in poker the reality is that the big fish eat the little fish. At each level, eventually, large chunks of the customer base get eaten up by other players, and as these players attempt to ascend the betting structure ranks, they in turn “donate” to the bigger fish in the ascending levels. The money keeps moving up the food chain, and at the lower ranks — where the greatest number of players are — the fish keep getting eaten up and eventually busted (or at least beaten until they don’t want to buy in again).

    The most profitable strategy — not taking ethics or fairness into account — would be, then, to assist the weaker players in some way, or if you prefer to assist the LOSING players in some way, so that the maximum number of players are in action at any given moment, and so that the rake is maximized at all times.

    This is simply the math of it. The customer base is not unlimited, as sites are finding out, and they have to compete for customers. This is, for example, WHY SITES ADVERTISE (duh). The size of the rake does not vary in any given ring game according to the amount of chips any given player has; it varies in the cardroom according to the number of players in action. So, again, the most profitable situation would be one where as many players as possible are in action. This is why THE PROFITABLE MOVE (in an unregulated industry) would be to automatically assist losing players so that more players stay in action longer, maximizing the rake.

    Kahnawake, as their UB handling has proven (if you don’t already acknowledge that they’re not a legit regulatory agency, since no legitimate regulatory agency would depend for its own income on providing services to the businesses they regulate, so that the regulatory needs the businesses to prosper for its own success), cannot be seriously considered a presence that makes the gaming industry deserve to be considered anything but unregulated.

    It is entirely possible to generate completely random deck shuffles, and then distribute cards in an unrandom way (favoring, for example, weaker/losing players over stronger/winning players), so that aggregate data on cards distributed show random card patterns, but where actual distribution isn’t in fact random (or is in reality “rigged”).

    The strongest argument for the games being rigged is (1) that rigging them (to help weak players) is the most profitable way to run an online cardroom, (2) programming the software to do it is not difficult, (3) there is no effective regulatory agency in place to prevent such a manipulation of the software program, (4) and that the industry is populated by the types of personalities who would not avoid an ethical breach if there were not accountability in place to prevent it.

    As far as “4” goes, there is a certain type of person who tends to gravitate toward starting an online gaming site. Russell Hamilton isn’t unique in being a person of that type. There was Dutch Boyd, there are many others. There is honor among thieves, on occasion, but it’s the honor of…well…thieves.

    The most rational analysis argues FOR the likelihood of games being rigged, not against. It’s EMOTION and DESIRE that make it FEEL like the opposite holds.

  • Tet

    Online poker is definitely rigged. The customer base is not infinite and many site will even give away money to gain players. It is a must for any site to keep the money spread around and the action constant. If not, the good players will eventually win all and the rakes and business will die. Any player who have played both live and online know it is rigged. I don’t get how you can HONESTLY say you believe it is not. They have lied over and over saying how its impossible for someone to see your hole cards and “superuser accounts” don’t exist. Obviously they do. What else are they lying about? In an industry where money is king and deceit, bluffing and trickery are the order of the day, the possibility that online poker is completely fair and random are worst than the odds of winning a lottery. How can you so strongly defend that position? Unless….

  • Levvy

    quote” it is far, far more complex to rig the game in favor of thousands of poor players.”

    Do you know how much money Full Tilt have ???

    Full Tilt is obviously rigged. If you havn’t lost big yet im sure you will do soon. Im sorry but there are way to many suckouts. Read the forums. We know when weve been had and the only way is to not play because you can’t beat their system whatever it is !!!

    Full tilt makes a joke out of people who want to play real poker

  • isabelle

    I agree with Pud. Some of the hands that you see when you’re playing live are horrendous.

  • Bill

    Terry – Side note: I think it really detracts from taking your argument seriously when you somehow try to connect Bush and Absolute / UB. It makes you sound like a paranoid, tin-foil hat wearing, lunatic who when he isn’t going around and posting on internet websites is down at the mall talking to himself.

    Much better to keep your argument to the facts being discussed.

  • Bill

    Terry,

    Actually, if you read what I’ve written on the topic I say that rigging a game is when the house alters the natural state of the game in order to profit.

    UB and Absolute were cases where a malicious employee (or consultant or ??) went in and modified the game for his own gain. That doesn’t fit my definition of rigged. That’s simply cheating and I’ve never said that someone can’t cheat the game. In fact, I’ve written the ways that the game can be cheated online and off.

    Bill

  • terry

    of course poker is rigged

    sites have been caught

    people always cheat for more profit

    look at the stock market and bushs elections

    to say it isnt rigged, must take a lot of cash from poker companies. i hope u get paid well bilL!

  • jim smith

    Okay so you don’t think online poker sites will rig the cards or that they don’t rig the cards. Fine thats your opinion. Now think about this. If the fish continue to lose at poker they will stop playing so what will the site have left playing in cash games? They will have all the pros playing so tight that there will be minimal rake made because as we all know that most ring games no flop is seen. When no flop is seen the poker site doesn’t make any rake and therefore wouldn’t make as much money. Now there are no fish playing because they have lost all their money, so there are only good players left to play so everyones winnings decrease including the poker site. The number of players greatly decreases so the site is out millions of dollars. I started playing online poker and stopped because I was sucked out on so much that I couldn’t stand it any longer and will never play online poker again. When you flop a boat and lose to runner runner boat 60 percent of the time or you get dealt qq 108 times and 100 of those times someone else at the table has aa or kk something is definitely wrong. I know that suckouts happen as I have been sucked out on and sucked out on during live play, but its the frequency that it happens online that is troubling. I understand that the amount of hands played online is greater, but there should be no more runner runner suckouts per number of hands played then there are at the casino and the odds don’t change. It is almost like the cpu is setting up hands and skipping over cards that the people don’t need. Having aa and losing to a lower pp is not uncommon for me as it happened at a 60 percent rate. Or flopping a set and losing to a runner runner flush from the person who had the aa and hit their flush on the river using one card happened at around 40 percent. Just rediculous odds. If only the tight aggressive players played ther would be no action or very little and therefore very little rake. If everyone playing knew that they don’t make a call without the proper odds what a boring game it would be and the site would have greatly reduced profits. So there is definitely incentive to rig the cards. I am not a programmer, but video games can rig things to your advantage or the cpu’s advantage so why couldn’t the online sites? Thanks for listening to me ramble and good luck to all you people playing online poker.

  • Greg S

    I think it would be trivially easy. You just 1) figure out which players you want to shift money from and which you want to shift money to, and 2) Shade things a small amount that will avoid detection.

    For 1) there are many ways to figure out who you want to get the money. Simplest might be to rank order a given table based on who has the highest ratio of money in their account per big blind at the table. You maximize rake if no one ever goes busto

    For 2) Everytime one of the richest players gets dealt AA-QQ, you simply redeal everyone else at the table to not get dealt AA-99/AK/AQ. Or verytime the poorest players see a flop with 2 suited cards you specify the first flop card must be one of their suit. Fine tune things are there are a thousand things like that to try.

    You don’t need to worry about them misplaying hands, or statistical metrics catching things. Just given them a small, difficult to detect edge and let the law of large numbers work its magic.

  • Mark Gritter

    Bill,

    I’m curious what you think of the other half of Ed’s post in which he talks about a way in which the PokerStars did “rig the deck” by ensuring no player would receive a card he had drawn before after a reshuffle. They didn’t do it because they wanted more rake, but because they thought it was a better game.

  • Haley Hintze

    Hiya, Bill!

    This an example where I think Ed is serving the greater good, whether or not everything he says can be supported. I’ve thought about posting on this myself, but whether I do or not, I think Stars is in clear error here. One reason is technical and the other is philosophical.

    Reason 1: There are clear guidelines for how triple draw is supposed to be dealt. I disremember if that game is in Lou Krieger and Sheree Bykofsky’s “The Rules of Poker” (that’ll be 50 cents, guys!) but I’m absolutely sure the printed rules are out there somewhere. So the “because we can” argument as stated by Stars is meritless.

    Second, Stars needs to -not- do things that give any sort of mathematical credence to the “online poker is rigged” crowd. Mathematically, the effect of the change made will involve a very slight juicing of the results and will result in something like one extra player being in the pot maybe every thousandth hand in triple draw, and maybe a little more frequently in badugi. It therefore increases rake by some tiny, all-but-imperceptible amount. When it’s measured statistically, it’s probably down in the four- or five-decimal-point range regarding its effect on play. It’s negligible in triple draw because there are almost never enough players in a hand to bring a reshuffle into play.

    But even if it’s an unnoticeable juicing, it’s still a juicing that exists in the mathematical sense, and can therefore be used as a mathematical “proof” that the game is rigged to increase rake or whatever. It’s the wrong tool to hand to the wrong crowd.

    I have no clue which big-name pro came up with the idea, but famous players can still have bad ideas and this one should have been deep-sixed. Was the unknown player on any of the rules committees that have sprung up to promote rules standardization, like Jesse Jones’ WPA? I’d guess not. Hachem’s been on that board, IIRC, so he’s probably not the pro that floated this one.

    I’ll skip the rest of the tinfoil hat portion of the discussion.

    Stars’ handling of dead blinds is wrong, too. That’s a much greater issue in terms of play because it can affect strategy at the table, but it’s not a “Rigged!” issue that can be used against the site and against online poker in general. That’s the key difference.

  • Pud's Poker

    It always makes me laugh when people say poker is rigged. Some of the hands I’ve seen live are laughable but nobody accusses the dealer of shady dealings.

    Good post, I will put away my tin foil hat for now!

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