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Is online Poker Rigged?

Online Poker is rigged A few evil players at Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet have been recently caught cheating. This scandal has taken the online poker community aback, and it is still under the shock of this brutal surprise. This was even discussed on the Television at "Sixty Minutes".

This story has reinfored the feeling in the mind on some players that online poker is rigged, and this is the topic of many poker related discussions. This article attempts to put some light on the issue of online poker site rigging the game for their own benefit.

Are Online Poker Rooms rigging the game?

Why do many online poker players wonder or suspect that online poker is rigged? Let us be honest, people do not like to lose at poker, but not everyone can be a winner. So when players take a beating, a bad beat, lose against a one-outer or are on a continuous downswing, the natural reaction is that someone is cheating on them.

It has been noticed that people get many more bad beats online than in live poker. This is normal, given that online poker plays much faster. In the simple case of one player multi-tabling four tables of full ring No Limit Texas Hold'em, he will play in one hour five to ten times more hands than if he were sitting at a casino.

Another reason that bad beats happen more is that online players are not afraid to make stupid calls as no one can see or recognize them behind the anonymity of their avatar.

people think poker on the web is rigged Henceforth bad beats will occur 5 to 10 times more frequently in the case of this player. So many bad surprises make people wonder if poker on the web is rigged.

Given that bad beats inflict such a dreadful amount of mental pain in our brain, it is understandable that people get so upset and question the integrity of online poker rooms when they take too much of them.

What is hard to understand for most of us is that there will always be period of very bad luck. Randomness is like that: true random events do not feel random, but this is the way pure chance happens, not in a perfectly smooth way, but with "trends". Nothing to do with rigged games.

Is it worth it for Poker Rooms to Rig the Game?

Online Poker is still a very unregulated environment for the most part. In 2008 one of the most respected financial institutions was accused of running an unnoticed Ponzi scheme for the past twenty years. As finance is so much more regulated than online poker, one may wonder why we should trust poker sites and not believe that online poker is rigged. is online poker rigged

One conspiracy theory is that the poker rooms tweak the odds in favor of bad players versus good players. As fish would lose their money too fast, this is a way to keep them playing online longer and to collect more rake.

In spite of its ability to explain bad beats, this stratagem would be very difficult and dangerous to implement. Difficult as the software enabling to run this program needs to be very advanced, profiling players between fish & regulars and fine-tuning the odds precisely but not too much to avoid alerting observant players as well as auditing companies.

Note that all respectable poker room such as pokerstars get their random number generator audited on a regular basis.

In addition rigging the cards would be dangerous because information about this machination could be leaked by accident or by anyone involved. The price for rigging the poker software would be way too high, including fines and loss of reputation. As online poker is so lucrative, it can be argued that the risk is not worth the reward for poker rooms to offer unfair games.

In a similar vein, it has been said that one sees way too many big pots, where two players fight each other with a monster hand. It does not seem natural to have two monster hands at the same time that often. The theory is that poker rooms tweak the card shuffling in order to generate more big pots and collect more fees.

The arguments against this idea are the same as above, difficulty of implementation and risk if they are caught. Fortunately for poker lovers, hand histories can be collected and used to run statistical tests of the fairness of online poker games.

Plenty of players collect such hand histories and run their own tests, sometimes in great depth. This is how the cheaters at Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were caught. But no one has ever been able to find any statistical evidence that online poker games were rigged except for this well-known case.

By the way, with respect to the security of your money left in your account at these rooms, it is very safe. Just stay with the largest rooms. If you have a paypal account, there are paypal poker rooms. Otherwise check the payment methods for each room.

Stay with the largest poker rooms. Such rooms with high traffic are under a lot of natural scrutiny from their players and cheaters are caught rapidly because of that. Many players have databases with over one million hands, and sometimes even over ten million hands. Such large sample sizes enable efficient statistical evaluation

This is not so in the smaller poker rooms, where the reduced traffic makes it harder to multi-table. There are fewer sophisticated players in these rooms and cheating would be harder to catch there.

This is why we only recommend poker rooms with a perfect record of offering fair games in a secure environment and under strong work ethics. They are not rigged.



NJGUY says:
Feb 05, 2011 at 21:04 pm
I was just reading a posting on your site about the fairness of online poker and how it is hard to do due to the "auditing" going on. I have to disagree with your statement as these audits are not taken place by any governing bodies, but rather the companies hired by the companies who actually run the poker sites. Therefore, any reports that might be available(which they are not) are easily manipulated for the public eye. Your posting really has no true evidence and appears to be strictly by your opinion. It is easier to determine who is a fish and not, 3rd party programs that can track millions of players and billions of hands can do, why can't the poker sites themselves? There are reasons why the poker sites are not regulated by governments such as the USA...they are not trusted and understand how easy they can be manipulated. Why do you think such countries as the USA don't endorse it as they are losing billions each year in is not because of compulsive gambling, rather the cheating that can and does occur.

learn2holdem says:
Feb 06, 2011 at 09:04 am
Hi NJGUY and thanks for your comment.

You are welcome to disagree. We have been following online poker since 2007, and we believe that online poker is not rigged as of 2011, at least not in the major rooms. Yes audits could be manipulated (even though they are done by independent companies). But note that given the accrued competition between online poker rooms, it is not in their interest to take such unneccessary risk by rigging their games, and as we know the online poker community would catch such frauds better and faster than a few years ago due to increased awareness.

Also look at the example of France. The new gambling law imposes strict guidelines on poker operators, and here again it is hard to rig the games, and if they did and were caught they know they would be losing their licence, and why do that given how hard it is to get a license. In other countries like the US, if a new law is implemented to regulate the game of poker online, it is believed that licenses will be granted as well, and only to reputable companies of course.

The question you have to ask yourself if you think pokerstars is rigged after you took a series of bad beat there, is who won the hand. Who is this player? Does he work for the room? Is he a winning player? Look at his hand histories and stats to see if there is anything abnormal with his results. Follow this player in the future and see if he is just a fish who got lucky. If not you would have uncovered what no one else has been able to prove (I mean that online poker rooms rig their games).

Ryan says:
Aug 01, 2011 at 11:54 am
You make some good points and I like your argument but you are missing something... evidence with which to back up your argument. At Online Poker Watchdog we have carried out independent testing on 4 major poker sites to look for evidence of rigging at these sites. We have tested PokerStars, Party Poker, Ongame Network and Merge Network and we intend to continue testing other sites.
For more detail on this see:
So far, our tests back up your arguments as no evidence of rigging has been found at any of these sites.

learn2holdem says:
Sep 27, 2016 at 22:38 pm
Hi dear readers, it is 2016 already. No new evidence of online poker being rigged has recently surfaced. It was rigged in the early days but now online poker is getting highly regulated and the chances of it being rigged are small to none. But if you are really concerned about it try betting, as you will know your odds exactly and the outcome cannot be controlled by the bookie. Check Bet Bind for more information.


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