It’s perhaps the biggest and longest-running conspiracy theory in the poker world – the claim that the online game is rigged!
However, as micro-stakes crusher and best-selling poker author Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams investigates, it’s a theory that belongs in the dark ages of the internet poker game.
— Nathan Williams (@BlackRainPoker) 5 January 2019
Although perhaps preaching to the converted here, it’s worth taking a look at online poker in 2019 and how likely, or unlikely, it is that those cracked aces or runner-runner flush that you claim always goes against you really is.
Go online and you’ll find hundreds of posts and videos claiming that something completely fishy is happening. The video above just one example. However, as Williams points out: “…while they certainly demonstrate a large amount of emotion, they just aren’t supported with anything close to what we would typically deem as evidence”.
Show me the evidence!
What, asks the author of books such as ‘The MicroStakes Playbook’, would constitute evidence?
He argues, rightly of course, “You would need a sample size of thousands of instances where your AA was getting beat too often in order to have a real and substantive argument here. And luckily for all of those who believe that online poker is rigged, this is actually really, really easy for them to do”.
Well, have you ever seen a database of hand histories from the conspiracy theorists? Say, even 100k+ hands of online poker – itself a relatively small number to calculate variance and deviance from the norms?
Of course not. “Instead they have sample sizes of 3 hands, 10 hands or 100 hands,” says Williams. Adding: “Incredibly small sample sizes like this would be quickly refuted by any amateur mathematician as well within the bounds of simple variance and standard deviation”.
“Play a statistically significant sample of hands (i.e. 200K+), run it through a tracking program, and then post the evidence for all the world to see!” says Williams, and it’s hard to disagree with him.
Of course online poker has had its fair share of extremely dodgy occurrences in its time. For example the superuser disgraces of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.
This, however, was a far cry from rigged RNG’s that can give your opponent quads every time you get a full house! So, although there is ‘reason’ for players to be concerned about certain elements of the online game, there is no reason to go ‘full tin foil hat’!
Tin foil hat time on YouTube
It hasn’t stopped many from doing just that, of course. Here’s another YouTube video full of ‘evidence’…
The Real Sharks
Now, PokerStars – who crop up in these conspiracy theories more often than anyone else – may not be everyone’s favourite site because of some of their choices aimed at certain games and players.
But it’s 2019 now, and a $billion company is not going to screw you on the river a couple of times when they are getting a share of your money anyway!
“The poker sites themselves are the real big winners in poker and they always will be. They are the real “sharks,” not the players,” says Williams. “The financial incentives for the poker sites to maintain the integrity of their games are just too important”.
Does that mean there is nothing to worry about at all? Not quite – and we all owe it to ourselves to do due diligence wherever and whoever we play in poker. But, next time you get rivered for the 10th time in a session, just remember…it’s supposed to happen sometimes!
You can read Nathan ‘BlackRain79’ Williams’ full blog post here.
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