People are always curious about whether or not online poker is rigged.
The answer will always remain the same. If it’s rigged, it’s definitely been rigged for some. Because some people have made an awful lot of money playing this simple card game online.
All joking aside, the potential rigging of online poker is a huge worry for a lot of people.
Here’s the upshot of it:
On the whole, no, online poker is not rigged. The monetary incentive for the online casino sites to maintain their level of integrity across all their games is too important to risk.
There are, however, legitimate concerns regarding smaller poker sites specifically. At the end of the day though, you’re a customer so the ball is in your court. If you believe a site is rigged then you should immediately withdraw your money and never play on that site.
But, this is a simple answer to give, and you want to know the in-depth stuff. This article will dig deep into the cases both for and against the rigging of online poker. It’ll discuss things like collusion, bots and superusers.
Here we go!
Are Online Poker Sites Fixed?
Let’s jump right into this. Do poker sites fix their results, yes or no? What on earth is the deal? Why do so many people get so many bad bets? There has to be some third party factor, right?
When people voice concerns about online poker being rigged, the most typical complaints heard are a mathematically infeasible number of ‘set-ups’. For example AA versus KK, and/or bad bets, say you AA and a bad player who has 74 offsuit hits 2 pair on the river).
Anyone who’s ever played poker for more than a couple of days will know that these things go both ways. They’re just part and parcel of the game. It’s like moaning about the rain.
Big Stake Advantages
A big stake advantage is another thing people talk about a lot in poker tournaments. Meaning they think the poker site will rig the tournament for the biggest stake to win more of the all-in pre-flop coin flips (for example, AK versus 99).
The thinking behind what exactly the poker site gains from rigging the hands and letting the bigger stake to win more flips is a lot less obvious.
More so since the majority of people who do the complaining about online poker being rigged are those playing with lower stakes. For example, ten dollar games.
Other people, though, will claim there is a lot collusion, or the use of superusers and/or bots. This is a more distinct issue due to the sort of cheating, if proven, is likely to be at the hand of the players, not the online poker operator itself.
We’ll put that on the back burner for a moment and focus on talking about the case for and against online poker being rigged in the first instance.
Online Poker is Rigged
OK, let’s dive into the facts that prove online poker is definitely rigged.
You probably got excited there, but the truth of the matter is that online poker sites being proven to be rigged is rarely to never seen. The testaments in favour of an online poker site being rigged are much more likely to be anecdotal, rather than hard fact.
For example, if you went and read the comments on any article claiming a specific site is rigged, you’ll very likely find almost all of those comment posts are angry, curse-ridden and probably incoherent.
There are issues with comments like these, claiming a particular online poker site is rigged. There’s no denying the incredible amount of frustration the person is feeling. But they never really support their argument with any real proof.
So, unfortunately, when making such inflammatory statements, threatening to take legal action against what is probably a multi-million dollar company, you’re definitely going to need some real proof.
There is a program called PokerTracker that you can use. You can import your poker hands and use a filter for all your instances of AA and it will figure out your winning percentage.
A pocket ace should win around 85% of the time vs random hands.
For example, if you had a huge sample size of thousands of instances of AA, but you were winning at only 60-70% (or even less), you’d have a legitimate and genuine complaint to action.
There has never been claims from anyone who say online poker is rigged that were backed up with a significant statistical data to back this up.
Rather, they have a sample size of anywhere between 3 and 10 hands. Not nearly enough to bother looking into and more likely bad luck.
So, a sample size this tiny would be refuted by even a rookie mathematician as completely within the realms of variance and normal deviation.
If you’re one of those people threatening to get a lawyer involved against the online poker site, this ‘evidence’ of yours would be quickly laughed out of court as nothing more than silliness.
Online Poker is not Rigged
Inevitably, the case against online poker being rigged is far, far more robust. The reason being that you’re able to look into it yourself.
The majority of online poker sites these days let you download your data to analyse hand histories. A hand history is usually a text document including all the information possible about a poker hand.
For example, you’ll see:
- The precise time you played the hand
- All the player’s stake sizes
- Those who bet, called or folded (etc)
- The winner of the hand
- The loser of the hand
So, as it was covered earlier, there is transparency in data thanks to online poker tracking systems like Hold’em Manager and PokerTracker.
Opinions are wonderful. Everyone’s got one. What’s actually needed to solve the age-old debate about online poker being rigged, or not, are stone-cold facts. Honest, clear and undeniable.
So for all those claiming that online poker is a fix, there seems to be absolutely no follow up with numbers to prove it. An expert player with years of hands under their belt could run their history through a program and prove them all wrong with one click. It all comes down to the facts of poker.
To put it bluntly. One thing that will help millions of people to know that online poker is not rigged is to get better at poker.
Does it Benefit the Sites to Fix Poker?
Online poker sites have the financial incentive to never rig their online poker games.
Another huge problem for those in the camp believing online poker is rigged is that the online poker sites have a serious financial incentive to ensure the ongoing integrity of their games.
So, put simply, they have a direct motive to not rig their online poker.
For example, the site PokerStars made $877m in 2017, revenue driven purely from poker. This is a 4% increase from 2016, for those people who also think the popularity of online poker was decreasing.
These numbers are clear proof that the online poker operators are the real winners and always will be. They’re sharks, not players.
If you really disagree then you’d be able to name a poker player making billions a year. And if you do know a guy, pass on his details because a lot of people are going to want coaching!
Poker Sites Want You to Play and Win
Common sense and logic will tell you that when you’re smashing profit targets left, right and centre, the last thing you’re going to do is jeopardise that.
Of course you won’t, you’ll simply want to keep milking that cash cow.
You should ask yourself what the likes of PokerStars would gain from rigging their games in a $10 tournament. Not a thing. But they would have everything to lose.
Why not check out some poker training sites and see how you can boost your game before playing for real.
Players Control the Situation
If you think about it, it’s you, the customer, who holds all the cards (pun not intended).
Some people, though, are stubborn and will never be moved from what they believe.
Despite the fact that there is precisely zero evidence supporting their claims, nor a motive for any online poker site to rig their games, some people’s minds are firmly made up.
Which is totally OK.
You can wholeheartedly believe that the earth is flat for that Tupac is still alive and well. You can believe whatever you like, with little to no solid proof.
At the end of it, it doesn’t really matter what you believe. When it comes to the bottom line when you’re playing online poker, you’re the customer, so you have all the power.
Don’t Use Sites You Don’t Trust
If you feel a particular site is rigged to work against you then you have the power to simply not use that site and starve it of your money. You can withdraw your cash and never use the site again.
The number of people who complain about a particular site being rigged but carry on playing on it is immense. It defies logic. Why would you keep giving your money to a site that you genuinely believe is set up to take your money?
There are quite literally thousands of online poker sites you can play on. If you’re sure one of them is rigged, you could play live too.
Worth noting that when you withdraw your money and find somewhere else to play, this is a massive loss for the poker site. They are dependent on the rake you pay to continue aiming for that multi-million dollar win.
If you really think an online poker site is rigged, the best retaliation is to hit them in the pocketbook. Withdraw your cash and never look back.
Poker Bots, Collusion and SuperUsers
OK, here the conversation gets a bit heavier in the discussion of poker bots, superusers and collision.
This is a more legitimate worry. Where there is no evidence of a poker site rigging the river against you, there is actually solid proof of this type of cheating.
The biggest difference is that the cheating itself is, most of the time, done by the players.
They’re the ones who run poker bots, work in teams with other players at the table or figure out someone’s cards (a superuser).
Players Using Bots
There have been several allegations over the past few years of bots specifically being active on the majority of online poker sites.
This isn’t unfounded speculation. There have been a lot of high profile cases where online poker sites have publicly refunded a player due to their security team discovering a gross rule violation.
Whilst they’ll rarely to never give you the specific details of what kind of cheating has happened (obviously), it’s very clear some kind of bot or collusion has been involved.
Should you worry about potentially playing a poker bot, or people who are colluding? Definitely. But, you’re concerning yourself with human behaviour here.
When there’s a significant amount of money on the table, you’re naturally going to get a group of people who will go out of their way to try and get it unlawfully.
Remember the worldwide financial meltdown a decade ago? Say no more.
Be Aware of Those Players
Here’s the deal. You will pretty much always come up against someone cheating in poker, regardless of what game you’re playing. Live or online, it doesn’t matter.
This isn’t to say you should never play poker again! All it means is that you should be cautious, mindful and vigilant when playing.
It’s worth being concerned with mid to high stakes poker with this particular type of cheating because the pots hold much larger sums of money.
The bottom line, again, is that you are the customer. If you smell something fishy, then write to the power site and give as much specific detail as you can; names, details, etc, so they can look into it.
If you’re not happy with their response to your concern then withdraw your money and do not use the site again.
So, can you trust online poker to be fair, or is it rigged?
There’s a substantial lack of solid evidence or actually even a motive for the majority of online poker sites to be unfair. And this speaks volumes.
As for the bigger issues of poker bots, superusers and collusion, it is fair to worry about these things.
It’s important to be vigilant about the online poker games you’re playing and never be afraid to report any behaviour that you think is suspicious.
At the end of the day, though, as it’s been said here in this article, you’re able to make up your own mind. You’re the customer, you have all the power.
If you are unsure about a specific online poker site, then you should immediately withdraw your cash and never use the site again.
Table of Content
- Are Online Poker Sites Fixed?
- Online Poker is Rigged
- Online Poker is not Rigged
- Does it Benefit the Sites to Fix Poker?
- Poker Bots, Collusion and SuperUsers