Is Online Poker Rigged?

The question of whether or not online poker is rigged has raged on since its inception. But is there any truth to the rumours? 

If you’re a frequent player of online poker then chances are you have a few interesting stories to tell. From bad beats to hot streaks, online poker players have seen it all! In fact, some games unfold in such a bizarre and unpredictable manner that many have argued the games themselves are fixed. 

After all, how many times can someone lose with aces or a set if the game isn’t rigged, right? Wrong! Rigging an online poker game isn’t as easy as it sounds, even for the operator. Industry regulations and technology like RNGs (random number generators), make this kind of activity woefully difficult. What’s more, these operators have little to gain but everything to lose if they’re caught defrauding their players. 

 How Do I Know a Site Isn’t Rigged?

The surest way to guarantee you’re not playing poker on a rigged site is to stick to the major online platforms. If you come across a site you’ve never heard of that seems too good to be true, trust those well-honed poker instincts and stay clear. Sites like PokerStars or PartyPoker are highly regulated and contrary to what you may have heard, don’t have free reign to do as they like. That is if they want to keep their license to operate and continue to make money. Routine requirements for a license include the promise to provide an even playing environment for their audience. Naturally, when it comes to this stipulation, regulators don’t simply trust poker sites at their word. Before getting their seal of approval, a regulator tests every inch of a poker website to ensure it’s a fair game for players. What’s more, once approved, these checks continue regularly to dissuade sites from changing how they operate. Beyond this measure, some poker operators seek out additional reviews from industry-approved third-party auditors. After all, additional verifications are a small price to pay when securing player confidence about the authenticity of a poker website.

Reputable poker websites are also well known for employing RNGs, ensuring they have little to no influence over the outcome of a game. RNGs are responsible for selecting every card a player is dealt throughout a game, from start to finish! Essentially, this technology shuffles through the deck in the same way a real-world dealer would!

Why Do I Lose More in Online Poker?

If online poker really isn’t rigged, then why do you seem to lose far more often than in live poker? Firstly, consider how many games you play live in comparison to your online poker games. After all, live games can only last so long. On any given day or night, most players will only make it through approximately 25-30 hands per hour. In contrast, online players can play 75-100+ hands in a session. When you consider that online players also may be playing at multiple tables, the number of potential hands being played increases even further. This could see ambitious poker enthusiasts sitting at 4 tables and playing upward of 400 hands an hour. 

Why is this important? Well, it is a matter of mathematics. When you consider how many more hands are played throughout an online session, it tracks that bad beats are more likely to happen. The larger sample size in online games, especially those on popular platforms, gives way to more plentiful chances for players to experience all manner of hands. This is also why online games can appear more sensational at times. Many live poker players accuse casinos of rigging games to ramp up the excitement. While any good poker player knows the game needs no help in this respect, it’s also important to remember that online poker unfolds at a much faster pace than its live counterpart. This means that, thanks to the pace and the sheer volume of games being played, a player will witness a far greater number of shocking scenarios. 

Still, some claim that online, they lose to hands that were initially much weaker than theirs because the casino gave their opponent miracle cards on the turn or the river. Of course, these exact situations do happen authentically in live games too but just not as often. Any poker veteran who’s spent time at live poker tables comes accompanied with a fully stocked library of colourful stories as standard. So, no, you’re not losing more online and poker platforms don’t rig games in the name of entertainment value. 

So, Is Online Poker Rigged?

In short, it’s nearly impossible for online poker to be rigged. Between regulators and random number generators, operators would have to jump through dangerous hoops to achieve this - with very little gain. For casinos, it makes little difference who takes home the pot, or even if anyone takes the pot at all. Once players keep their money circulating around the casino, the operators are the real winner! By interfering with this delicate online ecosystem, operators would risk players not coming back for another game in the future - hardly a prosperous business strategy. 

Even in online poker, you’ll recognise that the winners and the losers are fairly consistent. The simple truth is that, like with live poker, skill and experience typically come up aces. Yet, if you still believe that online poker is fixed, our best advice is to spend less time focusing on the casino and more time on your game!