The idea that online poker might be rigged seems to still be present in some players’ minds even though the game has now been around for close to two decades. Although these players are a minority, they are a very vocal minority unafraid to make their voices heard.
Moreover, there are also many players who aren’t quite sure what to think about this whole topic. The fact of the matter is that it is hard to change someone’s mind once it is fully made up. Even, no amount of evidence will do in some cases!
In any event, for those wondering who’s right and who’s not, let me try to answer the question “is online poker rigged?” once and for all.
1. The increased number of bad beats online is just an illusion
Players will often claim they experience an unusually large number of horrible bad beats when playing online. They base these conclusions off of their experience in live games, arguing that such things could almost never happen in a live setting.
The truth is that this is an illusion created by the fact you’ll play many more hands over the same period of time when playing online. You’ll see twice as many hands at a single online table, and most players play at least two or three tables simultaneously on top of that.
This means you are able to experience a month’s-worth of live play in a single night playing online on some occasions, depending on how often you go to your local poker room or play in a home game, of course. This makes it seem like your made hands are being cracked way too often, but what really happens is that you are simply encountering more of these situations than in live sessions and are just seeing your share of bad beats.
So the next time someone types GG WP in chat and then hits his magic one outer on the river, do not assume he knew what is coming and that the games are not fair.
2. Online poker rooms operate on an RNG that can’t be tampered with.
Every poker site out there features a Random Number Generator (RNG) that is tasked with providing fair and random results for every hand. The RNG works as a shuffling machine, ensuring every card that comes out of the virtual deck is entirely arbitrary, and it is independent of the players’ hole cards, or already dealt community cards.
These RNG algorithms are usually developed by independent companies, and poker rooms don’t have the kind of access required to tamper with the code. Once it is implemented, the algorithm does its thing over and over again, without any outside influences.
In theory, a poker room could order a custom RNG that they would use to rig the games. However, this would be a complicated algorithm to develop, and it wouldn’t last very long. All serious operators are regularly inspected by their licensing authorities, and it wouldn’t take much to figure out that the underlying RNG isn’t truly random.
3. There isn’t a single piece of real evidence of online poker being rigged
While there are many conspiracy theories floating out there, there isn’t a single concrete proof that online poker is rigged. In fact, the results of all players who have big hand samples seem to be within statistical expectations. Again, that’s with online poker being around for close to 20 years!
This is probably the most significant piece of evidence that online poker is fair. If it were not, someone would notice things were off. If a player were losing money overall with pocket aces after playing a million hands, that would be a good reason to trigger an investigation of a particular room, for example. But this hasn’t happened as of yet.
All the “evidence” of poker sites being rigged comes from cherry-picked hands that do look “fishy” in isolation but aren’t surprising in the grand scheme of things. After all, you might lose even with flopped quads every now and then! It is rare, but it does happen. If you were to lose with flopped quads ten times in a row, that would be a red flag, but, again, it doesn’t happen.
So, to sum it up, if you’re wondering if online poker is rigged, the answer is no. It’s just faster than the live version of the game, and people are more prone to doing crazy stuff online because there is no one physically sitting across the table. This can create a feeling that online games are “off” somehow, but it’s all just an illusion.
So, instead of worrying about it, focus on improving your game and playing as many hands correctly as possible. You’ll see that in the long run, the online setting — just like the live one — rewards the best and most consistent players.