Is PokerStars Rigged? Here Are the Facts [2020]

Is PokerStars Rigged? 2019
People still ask me all the time if PokerStars is rigged. Or if online poker in general is rigged.

And I have never written an article about it before because I think this just legitimizes what to me seems like a pretty ridiculous question.

But here is the quick answer.

PokerStars is not rigged. It just appears that way sometimes due to the incredible speed of online poker. Because online poker sites like PokerStars typically deal hands 3 times faster than a live poker game, you should expect 3 times as many bad beats. This is even more pronounced in Zoom Poker which can deal hands up to 10 times as fast as a live poker game.


Is PokerStars Legit? Is it Rigged?


But believe me I get it, some people are still not convinced that PokerStars is legit and not rigged.

And I know that the emails and the comments I get about online poker being rigged won't stop. Therefore, hopefully this article will help solve the Great Debate once and for all!

Is online poker rigged? Are we being invaded by Russian bots? Are there mysterious ninjas hired to create another rigged river card just for you right before the final table?

I gotta be honest. I can't possibly answer all of these earth shattering questions in a tiny little blog post like this.

However, a little bit of common sense should tell us that of course there is some nefarious behaviour going on when anything important (such as money) is on the line.

Humans rig the stock market, they rig elections, they lie on their resumes and they cheat on their high school exams as well. Heck a decent chunk of them even end up cheating on the person that they swore their wedding vows to!

So in short, yes of course there are certain poker sites and individuals out there who are trying to rig the system in their favor when it comes to online poker. You would have to be incredibly naive not to realize this.

But is PokerStars legit? Is there widespread cheating going on across the entire industry, and specifically at the biggest online poker site in the world, PokerStars?

Probably not. Here are 5 reasons why.


1. PokerStars is a Money Making Machine


The first and most highly obvious reason why PokerStars is probably not rigged is because they are an absolute money making machine.

As I have said many times before on this blog the house is always by far the biggest winner in poker. And PokerStars takes this to an entirely new level.

They are estimated to be bringing in 500 million dollars in pure profit each year. And therefore god only knows how much they were hauling in 5-10 years ago when poker was really booming.

And I personally have made a lot of money on PokerStars as well over the years simply by playing against guys like this!


So common sense should once again beg the question: Why on earth would you possibly want to screw that up?

When you are already making absurd amounts of money and dominating the entire industry what possible incentive could you have to want to rig something?

PokerStars is one of the most successful and profitable brands the industry has ever seen. And no matter what you think of their new ownership, they continue to crush it in every possible way from a business point of view.

So there is simply no plausible motive here.

In fact they have every reason in the world NOT to rig it and just keep playing a winning hand over and over again.


2. You Can Simply Go Check it For Yourself


The second most important reason why PokerStars is probably not rigged is kind of a biggie as well. And that is that you can actually just go and check it for yourself!

PokerStars is one of the few poker sites out there who are very open about what they do. They will in fact actually send you every single hand history that you have ever played on their site.

I know this because I did it myself once. I requested close to 8 million hands that I had played on PokerStars from them. Within 24 hours I had the links to download them all.

This means that I could then go stick those 8 million hands in a tracking program like PokerTracker and run extensive analysis and tests looking for statistical anomalies.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I am not a big fan of a recent trend in online poker towards anonymous poker sites and/or those who do not provide hand histories.

"Open source" poker sites like PokerStars are much better for the industry in my opinion because they allow us to essentially police the games for ourselves.

Any legit online poker site like PokerStars is not going to hide anything from you. All the hand histories are available for you to see for yourself.


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3. There is No Actual Evidence that PokerStars is Rigged


So given the fact that we can actually run our own tests and search for statical anomalies over massive sample sizes you would think that all the people who are so certain that PokerStars is rigged would have overwhelming evidence to support their claims.

Nope, nada, none.

There has never been one conclusive study that I have ever seen, based on a statistically relevant sample size, which actually proves that there is any rigging going on at PokerStars.

Their standard arguments instead usually go something like this:

"OMG...My AA got cracked 3 times in a row by some stupid fish!!!...I told you JOKERSTARS is rigged, rigged rigged!!!"

The main problem with these "arguments" is that they fail to account for even the most basic variance in poker and they are completely lacking in a statistically significant sample size.

A sample size of 3 hands is completely meaningless in poker. And so is a sample size of 300 hands, 3,000 hands or even 30,000 hands.

This is why most advanced poker training programs these days focus exclusively on long term results based on solid decision making at the poker tables in the short run.

To put it quite simply, you need to be working with millions and millions of hands in order to get to the point where you can mathematically rule out variance.

Anyone who has actually played this many hands of poker knows exactly what I mean by this.

I have never seen a real legit study based on this many hands which conclusively proves that there are widespread statistical anomalies going on with the RNG on PokerStars.

Because if such a study like this actually did exist, believe me you would have heard about it by now. And it would be an absolute bombshell within the poker industry.


4. Human Bias and Defence Mechanism


The next reason why some people are convinced that online poker is rigged is because most people lose at this game. And that unfortunate little reality isn't likely to change any time soon.

Once the poker sites and the winning poker players take their cut there just isn't much left over for everybody else. In fact I would estimate (conservatively) that 70% of poker players lose over the long run.

And the other thing that we know about poker players is that virtually all of them think they are pretty good, or at least above average. Poker is kind of like driving, nobody will ever admit they are bad at it.

So this naturally leads to a situation where many losing poker players will look to either repress this reality or simply shift the blame to something else for their lack of success.

In fact, Sigmund Freud (the father of modern psychology), even created a name for this very common unconscious process. He called it a defence mechanism.

When you aren't winning at poker the easy solution is just to blame it all on your bad luck or convince yourself that the whole game is rigged against you.

This is an absolutely crucial reason why poker continues to be so profitable.

Losing poker players have an easy out. They can just continually convince themselves that their lack of success is due to some outside force beyond their control.

And therefore, they never even think to address the real reason why they keep losing, which is their own lack of skill and lack of tilt control among other things.

There is no other game on earth that I have ever seen that inspires such incredible levels of self delusion. And quite frankly, it is an absolutely beautiful thing.


5. Variance and the Speed of Online Poker


The final reason why some people swear that online poker is rigged is because they don't realize how the speed of the online game changes everything.

Daniel Negreanu actually touches on this specifically in his new poker strategy course.

A lot of the people who claim that online poker is rigged come from a live poker background. Or they have played a statistically insignificant amount of hands online (less than 100k).

Therefore, they simply do not understand that the speed of online dealing (often 3 times as fast as a live game), coupled with the ability to multi-table, means that bad beats and coolers are simply bound to happen far more often than what they are used to.

This doesn't mean that anything is actually rigged. It just means that you are now experiencing the acceleration of a Ferrari instead of your old Toyota.

Yes it is going to feel weird at first. It won't even seem believable at times in fact. This is why many people do not feel that PokerStars is legit.

And if you try your hand at something like Zoom Poker (which deals hands upwards of 10 times as fast as a live poker game), it might just blow your mind completely!

Is PokerStars Rigged?

You really have to understand that online poker is a completely different experience from live poker. Yes it is the same game with the same rules, but all of the similarities end there.

The speed at which the online version of the game is dealt means that you are going to get to the long run far quicker than you are used to. This also means that you will see the true depths of statistical variance much more vividly.

And when you add in the ability to multi-table into the mix as well, you better buckle up. Because it is going to be downright crazy and quite simply not believable at times.

By the way if your are curious how I am able to play 20+ tables of online poker and still keep track of all my opponents, yes I do use several poker software tools and aids.

For the complete list of all the poker software and tools that I use as a pro, click here.


How I Became the Biggest Winner of All-Time on PokerStars (Micro Stakes)


The debate about online poker being rigged or not will rage on no matter what I say here.

And I know a few people will probably even accuse me of being a "shill" for PokerStars after writing this article.

The most hilarious part about that is anyone who actually reads my poker blog regularly knows that I have been actively recommending that you DO NOT play at PokerStars for many, many years now!

And that is not because I think there is any rigging going on at PokerStars or that PokerStars is not legit.

It is simply because there are many far easier online poker sites (softer games) available these days to play at in my opinion.

But hopefully some of the points discussed in this article will help bring some sanity back to the discussion. Obviously online poker faces many challenges and the integrity of the games will always be questioned as well.

Humans like to cheat at stuff after all. The sky is blue as well!

But the idea that there is any widespread rigging going on at PokerStars in particular is pretty absurd in my opinion.

I have made a lot of money on PokerStars over the years as a 10+ year poker pro by simply using a solid fundamental tight and aggressive strategy and focusing heavily on my tilt control.

This is in fact why I originally wrote what is now the best selling poker strategy book of all-time for low stakes PokerStars games, Crushing the Microstakes.

Is pokerstars rigged?


And then I also included hours and hours of optional videos with the book of me personally playing Zoom, 6max and full ring on PokerStars.

Is PokerStars rigged?

I have made tens of thousands of dollars in these low stakes games (some of the highest in PokerStars history), and I wanted to show people exactly how I did it with a video series.

I also wanted to prove once and for all that you can absolutely crush these games when you use the right poker strategy and focus on your tilt control.

However, I can't lie.

After playing millions and millions of hands on PokerStars, I have also taken an enormous amount of bad beats over the years. So much so, that it seemed completely unbelievable at times.

And there have been many times when I felt like just giving up completely. Throwing in the towel and quitting.

But I realized that this is the time when you find out what you are really made of as a poker player. When you can't win a hand to save your life for weeks or even months on end.

This is when you separate yourself from all the other amateurs out there. This is when you get to prove that you are a professional.

And this really is the critical point.

Winning at poker over the long run is really hard. It takes an unbelievable amount of work ethic, discipline, self control and patience.

Is PokerStars Rigged?
Me multi-tabling on PokerStars

And as a 10+ year poker pro I can tell you that the vast majority of people who play this game are simply not willing to put in this level of dedication and work.

After all, it is so much easier to shift the blame onto somebody or something else than to actually put in the hard work every single day both at the poker tables and away from them improving your game.

Look guys, if being a big winner in poker was easy, then everybody would be doing it. The bottom line is that you will get exactly what you put into this game.

You can keep choosing to believe that it is all rigged against you like most people do, or you can choose to finally address the real root causes for your lack of success in poker.

Having coached 100+ people myself to finally start winning big on PokerStars, I can tell you that the #1 reason most people don't win is because they are bad at poker.

I found that many people *think* they are good at poker, but in reality they do not really understand how to play a fundamentally sound tight and aggressive poker strategy.

They also typically suffer from an appalling lack of discipline and tilt control in most cases, both of which are absolutely vital components of any winning poker strategy.

To put it bluntly, it is only when you finally decide to start approaching this game like a professional that you will start creating the real consistent profits you have always dreamed about on Pokerstars.

In any case, I wish you all the best at the poker tables in 2020 no matter what your poker goals are. Thank you for reading.

Lastly, if you want to know the strategy I use to consistently make $1000+ per month on PokerStars as a 10+ year poker pro, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Is Pokerstars legit?