Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is online poker rigged? Real answers – not just theories.

This is a guest post by Ryan over at We hope you enjoy his article!

Is online poker rigged? Real answers – not just theories.
Browse any online poker forum and you’ll come across a number of threads where this ‘million dollar question’ is debated. You’ll see a whole spectrum of opinions, from the spectacularly neurotic: “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me”, and the devil’s advocate: “I’m not saying it’s rigged but it would be possible to rig a game by… ”, to the staunch believer: “there is simply no reason why a poker site would want to rig the game – it makes no sense”.

What you are unlikely to find is evidence to back up any of these opinions. It has been impossible to find any definitive answers… until now.
Statistical Testing
Large scale tests have recently been performed on some of the major poker sites and networks.
These tests have become known as ‘bad beat tests’ and were performed by Online Poker Watchdog who are dedicated to independently monitoring online poker for fairness. They analyse hands from real games that have been played at major online poker sites and networks.
The sites and networks tested were: PokerStars, Party Poker, Ongame Network, Entraction Network, Merge Network and Bodog Poker. These sites comprise over 85% of all online poker traffic.
For the results to have meaning it was necessary to use very large samples of hands, so over 6 million hands were purchased from hand history providers that ‘track’ hands from online poker sites.
The most recent tests have looked at flop all-ins. Pre-flop all-ins were also examined a few months ago. The tests compare the number of hands that are expected to win in a perfect world with the number of hands that actually won in reality. Due to variance, these numbers will always be slightly different but the tests measure the difference and see whether it falls within reasonable limits.
The tests then singled out all the hands that were the underdog at the stage when the all-in took place and checked to see whether there was any bias towards the underdog.
Results & Conclusions
In all cases, results showed that the actual number of hands won was reasonably close to the expected result. It was therefore concluded that no evidence of rigging was found at any of the sites tested.
For the full details of these tests and the complete results you can visit ‘Is Online Poker Rigged’
It is true that these tests only look at one potential way that rigging could take place. However, it seems that the old theory that ‘good players get more bad beats than they should’ isn’t true after all.

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