Ever since it became massively popular in the mid-2000s, players have been debating whether online poker is rigged or not. Without seeing the dealers and the physical cards, it’s obvious why many people still wonder whether online poker is fair.
But is online poker safe? Or is it actually rigged?
If you’ve ever wondered this yourself, you’re about to find out why online poker is fair, and how you can verify that for yourself.
Is Online Poker Rigged?
In short, online poker is not rigged. Firstly, online casinos have too much to lose and risk rigging the games. As gambling is one of the most profitable industries, no casino would ever risk losing huge profits and their hard-earned reputation by rigging online poker games.
Secondly, most casinos nowadays are licensed and use anti-cheating software (e.g., Random Number Generators (RNG) or the Provably Fair algorithm), which is enough to assure you that you have fair odds of winning when playing online casino games. Technology has advanced to such a point that the software used for regulating cheating cannot be hacked or bypassed.
And the truth is, most rumors that believe online poker is rigged at players that cannot face a loss. After going on a losing streak or facing bad beats, it’s easier for them to claim that online poker is rigged than to accept that they’ve had a bad game.
Now, let’s explain the Random Number Generator and Provably Fair technology, so you can have a better picture of the modern protection layers online casinos use.
What is a Random Number Generator (RNG)?
A Random Number Generator, or RNG for short, is the most important feature of online gambling, as it brings randomness and causality to games. It’s used for all types of games, such as slots, roulette, baccarat, and, of course, poker.
RNG uses algorithms and mathematical formulas to constantly produce random numbers to determine the outcome of online casino games, such as determining which cards you get in poker, the cards that are revealed on the table, etc. With such an algorithm, online poker websites provide players with the luck of the draw and an experience just like live poker.
Most importantly, with RNG in place, you are safe from rigged games and hackers, as hackers can’t identify a pattern and control the numbers. So, when choosing an online casino to gamble at, always opt for one that uses RNG.
What is the Provably Fair Algorithm?
Provably Fair algorithm is an algorithm used by online casinos to check whether bets placed have been tampered with by a third party .
A casino that uses Provably Fair sends you an encrypted code that contains the server seed before you place a bet. The algorithm will send you another code after the winner of the bet is declared, which you can then use to compare with the first code. If the two codes match, you can rest assured that the casino isn’t rigged and that the bet hasn’t been tampered with.
The two codes you get are encrypted so securely that no one can decipher them. But the biggest benefit of the Provably Fair algorithm is that it allows you to personally check whether a casino is fair or not.
5 Reasons People Often Think a Poker Site is Rigged
The claim that online poker is rigged is often just a rumor. Here’s why people might think a poker site is rigged:
#1. People Don’t Trust Algorithms
Sometimes in poker, no matter how good your game is and no matter how advanced your strategy is, you will eventually lose. At the end of the day, this is a card game, meaning that the luck factor plays a big role.
Some people don’t trust algorithms and think that an AI is playing against them, when in reality, losses are bound to happen due to the randomness involved in poker.
There are also other players who trust the RNG, but only when things are going well for them. Once they face a loss or two, they lose their trust in the online poker algorithm and start thinking it’s rigged against them.
#2. There Are Many Bad Beats in Online Poker
Taking a bad beat in poker is never fun, especially if you’re playing online. Many players seem to think that bad beats in online poker happen far too often and that the game must therefore be rigged.
In reality, the truth is that online poker gameplay simply goes faster, more hands are dealt than in live games, and players generally make their moves quickly. When the game moves at a quick pace, mistakes are likely to happen, and players are bound to take bad beats.
Now, let’s take a quick look at the numbers. In live poker, you are dealt around 30 hands per hour, whereas in online poker, you can be dealt more than 100 hands per hour. This means that there are 3x more chances of taking a bad beat, and that has nothing to do with the fairness of online poker.
#3. Online Poker Has a Bad Rep
In the gambling world, online poker has a bad reputation because of past incidents, such as the UltimateBet casino cheating scandal in 2005. The game became massively popular on the internet in the mid-2000s, and some casinos decided to take advantage of that. There were quite a few instances of casinos rigging their poker tables, but those days are long gone.
Nowadays, it’s pretty much impossible for an online casino to rig their games. This is mainly because they have more to lose than to win because most of the sit and go’s and poker tournaments have a required entry fee.
Most importantly, the vast majority of online casinos use the Provably Fair algorithm and random number generators, which we mentioned earlier. To top it off, all online casinos are required to have an issued license by passing fairness tests.
#4. Online Players Can’t Accept That They’ve Lost to a Computer
Drawn out online poker sessions sometimes get people thinking that they’re playing against a computer and not real players. So, when they lose, they can’t accept it because they think they’ve lost to a computer.
On the other hand, people sometimes end up playing against bots instead of real players. Have you noticed those players who only seem to lose, hand after hand, without chatting in the room, or without acting human whatsoever? If so, you might have encountered a bot.
Cheaters use bots to gain an unfair advantage and control the stakes at the table. This has nothing to do with online poker being rigged, but rather with people who resort to unethical practices in order to win. Luckily, they are often discovered and banned quickly.
#5. Online Poker Rooms Fix Cards
Some people like to think that online poker rooms fix cards to stop the fish from losing money and leaving the room too soon. The idea is that the casinos want to have as many players as possible in order to generate more rake and to make more money.
In reality, creating an algorithm that detects players who are losing and helps them get better cards is so hard that the chances of online poker rooms fixing cards are non-existent.
On top of it all, if a casino were to be caught fixing cards, the consequences would be so bad that it wouldn’t be profitable to do so.
How Can I Verify a Poker Site is Fair and Safe?
To check for yourself whether a poker site is fair and safe, you should look for the following things:
#1. RNG and Provably Fair Algorithms
RNG and Provably Fair, which we discussed above, are the two key algorithms for bringing fairness to online casino games.
Both of these algorithms are foolproof against hackers and cannot be breached. This means that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your game when an online casino has them in place.
#2. License and Registration
If a poker site is licensed and registered, you can rest assured that it’s safe and fair. Most online casinos nowadays have a license issued by a government gambling authority entity.
You should avoid playing at online casinos that aren’t fully transparent about their license number. So, whenever you are thinking about playing at a certain poker site, scroll to the bottom of its homepage, and check whether the casino is licensed.
#3. Software Developers
Online casinos that work with reputable software developers are likely to be safe and trustworthy, because no developer would ever work with an unverifiable website. That’s why you should always check whether a poker website works with well-known names such as Yggdrasil Gaming, Betsoft, and iSoftBet, to name just a few.
To check which software developers an online casino works with, simply scroll to the bottom of the home page of their website and you should find a list of software provider names.
#4. Reviews and Ratings
Ratings can say a lot about a poker website. That’s why before choosing an online casino, you should read reviews of it and see what other players have to say about it.
A reputable casino is likely to have stellar reviews, with a bad one here and there that is likely from a tilted player. Whereas a poker website that might be rigged will have numerous negative reviews and comments from people confirming this.
#5. Banking Options
Lastly, you’ll want to check out the casino’s payment options. You should look for PayPal, as it is one of the most reputable payment processors nowadays. To top it off, PayPal is picky when it comes to who they work with, and they only cooperate with legitimate casinos.
Poker sites that are fair and safe invest in reliable banking options and even accept cryptocurrencies so their players can choose from many options.
At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that online poker isn’t rigged. Most casinos nowadays are licensed and use security algorithms such as Provably Fair, so you have nothing to worry about.
The key points to walk away with are:
- An online casino that uses the RNG and Provably Fair algorithms, as well as has a license from a gambling authority, isn’t likely to be rigged.
- RNG is an algorithm that produces random numbers that determine the outcome of your bets.
- Provably Fair is an industry-standard algorithm that lets you manually verify whether a casino is rigged or not.
- Most people think online casinos are rigged because they don’t trust algorithms or they keep taking too many bad beats.
- To verify that a poker site is fair and safe, you can check if it:
- Uses RNG and Provably Fair.
- Is licensed and registered.
- Cooperates with well-known software developers.
- Has stellar reviews and ratings.
- Supports established banking options for deposits and withdrawals.