Every once in awhile someone loses a large amount of cash playing poker online to successive bad beats and decides that online poker must be rigged. Someone must be out to cheat him, or a bug in the software got him, or players are colluding against him, or whatever. That’s nonsense. I’ve logged hundreds of thousands of hands and have encountered nothing except normal random fluctuations. My cards have been well within the normal range. Often times the downswings are my own fault.
Let’s tackle the idea that online poker rooms are rigged first. This is utter and complete nonsense. Unless you’re playing at the Sooper Pokir Room which is hosted inside someone’s closet in a country you’ve never heard of, then I wouldn’t worry about it. Look, take Party Poker for instance; they make millions upon millions of dollars a year in rake from their players. They don’t need to cheat. It’s like Donald Trump stealing a pair of socks from Walmart. It’s not gonna happen. They have everything in the world to lose if somehow it was found out that they’re cheating their players. And it would be found out. Thousands of players track every single hand they play online with programs like Poker Office. To my knowledge no one has ever shown anything other than normal randomness in the cards being dealt them. If anything fishy was going on, it would become obvious real fast simply by looking at the combined histories of many players. And people have analyzed large databases of players’ histories and have found nothing amiss. Poker rooms are not going to cheat you. They have so much more to lose than to gain by doing this.
Some people accuse online poker rooms of sweetening the cards. They believe online poker sites deal more premium hands more often in order to get people excited so they’ll play more. Again, this is nonsense. And again, the hand histories of players would show if this was happening. It is not. You have to remember that in a live casino you’ll see maybe 30 hands an hour. Online you’ll play far more hands. If you play four tables at once as I do, then you’ll see almost eight times the amount of cards per hour as you would see playing live Poker. This explains some of the weirdness we encounter. You’re much more likely to see quads twice in a row playing 240 hands in an hour than you are playing only 30. The mind is programmed to recognize patterns, not randomness. When you’re playing you don’t notice how random the cards are. When was the last time you said to your buddy, “Man, that was a good session, the cards were really random tonight!” But if your sets get beat a few times in a row by monster hands you’ll sure remember that. Or if god forbid you should see quads twice in a row. It must be cheating! No, it’s nothing but normal randomness. Taking a large enough sample, weird statistical anomalies are bound to crop up. The more hands you play, the more often you’ll run into them. There’s nothing at work here other than normal randomness.
Another concern is collusion. There is some collusion going on, but again, it’s not something I lose sleep over. To me it’s kind of like worrying about whether I got overcharged on my $150 grocery bill for .20 cents. I don’t care. First of all, online poker sites are very good at spotting players that collude. If you often sit at a table with the same player, they’re going to take a look at your account. There are patterns they look for. You don’t have to be playing from the same IP in order to get busted. If you and a buddy talk on the cell from two different points on the globe and think you’re not going to get caught, think again. They’ll notice that you adjust your betting pattern whenever you’re in the same room as your buddy, based on his play. They have programs that can spot this stuff quite easily. I know of a guy that once got a refund from an online poker site because it was determined that two players at the table he was sitting at were colluding. I also know of a buddy that was booted from a SNG because his girlfriend was in the same game. They do catch this stuff.