Is online poker rigged? The million dollar question. Anyone person positive poker is controlled behind-the-scenes by shady corporate entities who turn on or off the ‘win’ button to further personal vendettas don’t need to ask – their minds are already mind up. If, like me, your inner skeptic trumps that tinfoil hat wearing part of yourself, things are not so black and white.
Short answer is no. Online poker is not rigged. Now let’s find out why.
On the lookout
As sure as there’s sand in a camel’s fur, there will always be fraudulent establishments eager to prey on the unassuming or the naive.
On your quest for a new poker room, you must use your discretion when reading through site rules and webpages to get a feel for its legitimacy. I’ve already written a whole frickin article on what to look out for and avoid when deciding on a new poker room, especially if you’re a frequent player.
Decryers will claim only ‘bad players’ shout ‘rigged!’ by virtue of smaller bankrolls constricting them out of the game, but that’s not a wholly fair assessment. While this is a very real contingent and in every game, from video games to family Monopoly, similar sentiments can be found, it is a discerning mind that asks difficult questions.
If you’re out to play the game or maybe even considering a poker career in future, fairness should be among your primary concerns. So, how to ask a sensible question without appearing overly paranoid? Don’t ask at all! Check
Third party scrutiny and independent certifications are important documents any legitimate online poker site will display in website footers or embedded deep into marketing emails below the brunt of their spiel. If you can verify the RNG is independently-certified (more on this below), and the website closely follows UKGC guidelines (which are very strict, this tick alone ensures legitimacy) you’re likely onto a winner.
Et In Arcadia Ego
Nothing could be more suspicious than a rigged poker article without references to those rare unfortunate times where a dishonest room tarried the Great Game’s reputation.
The Wild West of poker, along with the heroes and villains it bore, has gone the way of the setting sun. Regulatory bodies police game integrity with militant efficiency, making it unlikely such levels of dastardliness, as seen with UltimateBet, would survive unnoticed.
Ever heard of UltimateBet? If you’re a recent convert, we must journey back to 2005 when the cultural zeitgeist and the internet were not yet one and the same.
No one could know that within six months, UltimateBet would come to define large-scale poker rigging, becoming the sample case to which future infractions would be compared. It had everything; software manipulation, high-profile players losing funds, losses totalling millions.
During subsequent investigations, UltimateBet claimed any cheating was perpetrated by employees, which led to the discovery of code lines embedded in the software which fed hole card and other vital player info to a single account.
Like tumbling Alice, they followed the rabbithole to its inevitable conclusion, which led to the revelation that a high-profile pro was responsible or at least culpable in the shadiness.
Russ Hamilton cheated multiple times and was found guilty of fraud in excess of $20M. With such large amounts of money changing hands, it was only a matter of time before poker scandals, hitherto confined to the scene, broke the mainstream news.
RNG is a Random Number Generator, central to all forms of online casino gaming. Through a series of algorithms numbers are constantly transferred. While this engine is running – indeed, it never stops birthing – it is impossible for software to produce a predetermined hand.
If bias is the worry, remove the human element entirely and we’re left with the cool, emotionless grace of machine learning. Not only does the RNG ensure player security in financial matters, the random series of ever-changing numbers means hackers cannot control or identify RNG patterns.
Follow the trail
Does the site you’re investigating have active players? How old are their oldest regular accounts? Do accounts unrelated to the site vouch for its legitimacy? Longevity and reputation go hand in hand. The tests of time are more stringent than the rules of any regulatory body, fearsome or not.
Now that you’ve established a site as safe, it’s time to take some personal steps to ensure account security:
- Never use public computers. If avoidable, use only your home set-up or preferred machine, to which only you have access
- Password protect everything. Strong passwords, using symbols and numbers throughout
- Pay attention to other players at tables. Even the biggest sites with hundreds of reactionary security agents watching like hawks for collusion, things can slip through the cracks. If you see anything untoward, it’s your duty to ping an investigation request up the chain. In doing so, you’re paving the way for the next curious n00b wondering whether his chosen site is rigged.
Having worked and been around industry veterans for the past few years, I can confirm that behind the scenes everybody is obsessed with fairness, security and game integrity.
While we offer poker and other games, to where there’s no doubt about the aims of the business, legitimacy is the stock in trade.
Without legitimacy or the reputation of acquiring it, a poker room become one of a thousand. Doubtless sordid television programmes depicting the ruthless efficiency of gangster casino owners and backroom drubbings for winning players have influenced the popular image of gambling, but unlike other casino games poker players do not compete against the house, who in turn have no vested interest in their players losing.
With these in sight, choose this site:
- Good player traffic
- High-quality software
- Safe, secure banking options
- Bonuses and loyalty rewards
There’s your answer. Is online poker rigged? No.
Was it ever? Yes, a few times.
As with every rule, there are exceptions. Be safe, be daring and in every walk of life let none wear you like a boot sole.