Why Some Think Online Poker is Rigged (Brutal Truth!)

Why Some People Think Online Poker is Rigged

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

If you’ve played online poker for a while, you already know that frequent bad beats and suckouts are inevitable. 

You’ve also quite likely encountered such horrendous plays from some players you just can’t believe a real live person would play that way. 

What’s worst, it seems they keep getting rewarded for their mistakes, and you end up losing stack after stack, despite seemingly doing everything right.

This kind of all too common experience has led some players to believe online poker sites are somehow rigged for action. 

While there is virtually no real evidence to back these claims, it still doesn’t explain why so many people still believe that to be the case.

This article will take a closer look at some common objections people have when it comes to the alleged rigged online games, and why your poker site (in all likelihood) is not out to get you.


1. Online Poker Has Far More Bad Beats And Suckouts Than Live Poker


One of the main arguments for online poker being rigged comes mostly from anecdotal evidence. 

And in particular from some players who claim that the RNG (random number generator) in some (if not all) online poker sites isn't really random, but is somehow programmed to deal the cards to induce action. 

In other words, poker sites have intentionally developed an algorithm designed to compel players to put money into the pot in order to make more money from the rake.
 
The argument for this claim is the allegedly disproportionate number of the so-called "setups" or coolers, (i.e. the spots where you have a very strong hand, but your opponent ends up having an even stronger hand) in online poker as opposed to live poker in a brick-and-mortar casino. 

Some players go so far to claim that sites are deliberately designed to reward recreational players' mistakes because of frequent suckouts they endure when playing poker online! 

For example, the spots where you put your money in with the best hand, only to be outdrawn by a weaker hand on the future streets (aka a "bad beat").


Bad Beat Example Hand


You raise AA, bad player calls.


Flop comes: 853

You bet, they call


Turn comes: J

You bet, they call


River comes: 2

You bet, they raise, you call

Bad player flips over 5♠2♠ and you lose!!


I think we have all had this sort of thing happen to us before. And it is very frustrating, without a doubt. 

Maddening in fact. Why the hell were they even in the hand?!?

But this is of course what bad players do, they play bad. 

And they almost always have some small chance to hit a miracle river card (which will of course happen sometimes).

Anyways, the argument goes that poker sites make the most money from recreational players and depend on their deposits, so they artificially hedge their bets in order to keep them playing longer.

Others will even claim some poker sites are infested with bots, because they can’t believe a real life person would make such horrendous mistakes and end up being rewarded for it. 

For example, a player calls you down with a fourth pair, only to spike a set on the river and take your whole stack. It must be the bot that somehow knows which river cards are going to be dealt beforehand.

In reality, however, the insane number of bad beats, coolers and suckouts has nothing to do with the rigger RNG, but the lightning fast speed of online poker as opposed to live poker.
 
While you’ll be lucky to be dealt about 30 hands an hour playing live poker, you can get dealt a hundred or more hands an hour in online poker. 

If you get dealt three times as many hands, you’re going to suffer three times as many bad beats. It’s simple math, not a conspiracy.

And that’s only if you play one table. 

If you play multiple tables online, something you can’t do when playing live, you will multiply the number of possible bad beats with the number of tables you’re playing. 

Five tables equals five times more bad beats. What’s more, these bad beats can happen in quick succession, sometimes one right after another. 

And some of these situations are really mind-boggling, and it’s hard to believe something like that is even statistically feasible. 

When that happens, it’s natural to get overwhelmed and frustrated. It’s hard to think logically in these situations, and it can really feel like someone is out to get you. 

There’s hardly any other logical explanation as to why you’re running so terribly.

If you want to know how to prevent bad beats (is it even possible?) I have already written an entire article on that.


2. Some Poker Players Have a Hard Time Dealing With Randomness


Still, there is another logical explanation why horrendous situations happen in online poker, and you might not like it. It’s called the negativity bias. 

In psychology, it’s the notion that experiences you perceive as negative have a greater psychological effect on your wellbeing than the positive experiences of the same intensity. 

In other words, bad things produce more negative emotions than good things produce positive emotions. In poker terms, losing money hurts more than winning money feels good.
 
It’s perfectly understandable, and hardly a surprise. 

When things are going well, you can only feel so good, but if things are going bad, they can always get even worse, and you can die. 

You probably won’t die playing poker, but you can still lose a lot of money, and that’s also pretty bad. 

By the way, if you literally feel like you "can't win at poker" I recommend checking out one of Nathan's latest videos on this.


The point is, we humans are naturally hardwired to respond more strongly to what we perceive as negative experiences, and losing money definitely constitutes as one. 

We also like explanations as to why certain things happen. 

We are pattern-seeking creatures, and when someone tells us that things happen because they are random, our brain is none too happy with that explanation. 

It doesn’t understand randomness. It doesn’t accept it. 

Telling it that things happened because someone designed them to happen that way is psychologically much more feasible than saying that they are just random.

Hence the rigged RNG in online poker. The greedy poker sites intentionally rig the algorithm to squeeze out every last penny out of their unsuspecting customers.

Many people are totally convinced for example that PokerStars is rigged and I have already done a deep dive debunking a few of the myths about this.  


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3. Online Poker Sites Have No Reason To Rig The Games


Now, to give credit where credit is due, some online poker sites can certainly have shady business practices, and some are even outright scams. 

The stories about poker bots, superusers, collusions are not unheard of, and certainly exist. 

Wherever there is money to be made, there will always be a fringe minority of people willing to defraud other people for the prospect of an easy buck. It’s nothing new. Scams and scammers exist in every industry, not just poker. 

However, these are individual cases, and they are very few and far between. It’s not an industry-wide conspiracy by any means. 

That’s because there’s really no reason for the poker sites to rig their games. The gambling industry is already a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and online poker sites have the near-perfect business model. 

They already rake in millions of dollars of revenue every year, and have very few expenses to cut into their profit margins. 

Unlike a brick-and-mortar casino, they don’t need to spend any money on a physical location, equipment, staff wages, security and so on. 

Once they develop the software, all they have to pay for is the site maintenance, customer support, marketing etc. This is a vast oversimplification, of course, but you get the picture.
 
The point is, once the poker site is up and running, it basically makes money itself. The games run themselves, with little to no effort, and the money keeps rolling in. 

If a poker site has an approved gambling licence, and passed all the hurdles on the way to establish itself on the market, why on earth would it risk facing a financial and reputational ruin by deliberately rigging the games? 

Just to make a few bucks more? 

Well, maybe, but remember, they’re already making bank. Once you earn a ridiculous amount of money, you reach the point of diminishing returns. 

If you’re dirt-poor and someone gave you a thousand bucks, you’d be thrilled. But if you’re a multi-millionaire, a thousand dollars more or less means close to nothing to you. 

It makes zero logical sense for a company to risk its licence and reputation by rigging the games. The upside of slightly increasing their revenue doesn’t even remotely justify the risk.
 
Besides, somehow making an algorithm designed to induce action is so overly convoluted effort that ultimately just isn’t worth the hassle. 


4. It’s Easier To Assume The Game is Rigged Than to Admit You Suck


It’s also curious that you always hear about the poker site being rigged from bad poker players. 

Somehow, the winning poker players don’t complain about the rigged RNG, regardless of the number of bad beats they encounter.

This is probably because they already know the proven winning poker strategy that will yield them positive long term results.

So they don't have to stress over every single bad beat like the weaker players do.  

The good players understand if they do suffer a bad beat, it means they put their money in with a mathematical advantage, and that’s the best you can hope to do when playing poker. 

If that advantage doesn’t come to fruition at a particular time, so be it. 

In the long run, they know they will win far more than they lose, and they’ll continue playing to the best of their abilities.

Bad players, on the other hand, will be quick to recognize the spots where they got the short end of the stick, but they will also be painfully unaware of their own mistakes, and how they contributed to their bad results.

Why Some People Think Online Poker is Rigged

In poker, the cards you’re dealt are only a part of the equation. How you play them is just as important, if not more so. 

It’s also important to be aware of the fact how variance affects your short-term results. 

If you get a full house and your opponent flips over quads, it’s infuriating as hell, but if you play poker long enough, these situations will happen, albeit infrequently. 

It’s the nature of the game, and it has nothing to do with the rigged RNG.

In order to achieve long term success in poker, knowing which cards to play in which position is just part of the equation. 

Having a slight technical skill edge over your competition isn’t enough to crush the game beyond belief. 

You also need to know what it is exactly that makes you more skilled than your opponents, and how to best exploit it in a given situation, even when the cards aren’t falling your way. 

If you can recognize deficiencies in your opponent’s game, you should extend the same courtesy to your game as well. You don’t have it all figured out, because nobody ever does. 

Finally, you need to come to terms with the fact that superior poker skill just isn’t enough, and the luck element of poker will play a role in your day-to-day result. 

The skill of recognizing and dealing with variance, both good and bad, is also a skill, and it’s just as important as technical game knowledge. 

If you sometimes get the feeling the site is rigged against you in the heat of the moment, it’s perfectly understandable, because it can certainly feel that way from time to time. 

But if that thought pattern becomes pervasive enough, it can become a problem.

Luckily there are more ways that ever today to quickly improve your poker game such as advanced poker training programs and poker strategy books that give you the step by step formula to start winning now.


Why People Think Online Poker is Rigged (Final Thoughts)


In conclusion, online poker is not rigged, and there isn't any real evidence to back this claim apart from anecdotal evidence from some players who aren’t exactly experts on the topic, to say the least. 

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t any poker scams online at all, because there certainly are. 

There are a number of scammy poker sites, but even in these cases, the frauds have more to do with the inability to withdraw money, operating without a gambling licence and so on, and don’t have anything to do with the rigged RNG.

That’s because it’s far easier to make a legitimate random number generator than a convoluted algorithm that somehow induces action. It’s even more ludicrous to make such an algorithm for low stakes poker games. 

The monetary incentive to do so simply does not outweigh the risk, and if someone is deliberately out to defraud people, there are far cheaper, less risky, and less convoluted ways to do so.

As to the question of why some people still believe online poker is rigged, the simplest answer would be ego protection. To err is human, but to blame someone else is even more human. 

It’s easier to assume that someone is out to get you, than to take a long hard look at where your skills may be lacking and realize how you’re complicit in your own bad results.

Between the industry-wide conspiracy and our own wilful blindness and ignorance, which one is more likely? Occam’s razor would suggest the latter.

Finally, if you want to know my complete strategy for crushing online poker games for $1000+ per month, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Why Some People Think Online Poker is Rigged