Have you ever been playing a hand at an online poker room – and know that the person you’re playing against was going to hit the one outer (sole card that can make him/her win) on the river? The percentage is so small, less than 2%, yet it seems to happen regularly. Let’s build an unbiased case for each – whether it’s possible to cheat or not.
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Random Number Generation
Firstly, it’s important to understand how the cards are chosen for each player when they’re being dealt with. As with all ‘random’ online functions, a Random Number Generator. Random numbers can be generated in 2 ways
Algorithms. The mathematic formula can produce seemingly random results. This is the cheapest method of RNG – and also the preferred choice for most online gaming sites.
Natural Phenomena. Analyzing equipment monitors random occurrences in nature, such as subatomic movements or global tidal positions.
Reported cheating cases
There have been two major cases of ‘insider cheating’, one was at Absolute Poker (2007) and one was at Ultimate Bet (2008).
The first and most well-known case was brought to light when Absolute Poker announced they had a security breach. An employee had managed to play at high-stakes tables whilst being able to see his opponent’s hole cards. He was discovered after several high rolling players complained about hand histories showing that he was always 100% right with betting, folding, and calling their hole cards.
The second case was similar to the first, as the perpetrator could see his opponent’s hole cards, however, he had to use third-party software to manage this.
Colluding is where multiple people are at the same poker table working together. In live poker tells such as winks, finger tapping, and code words let the other players in their team know what
cards they have – and then they act accordingly. This gives them an unfair advantage over the other players. Online this can happen too – where people are talking whilst playing. Poker rooms don’t allow multiple players with the same IP address at the same table, due to colluding.
The International Federation of Poker (IFP) is the global governing body for poker. They protect the rights of poker players, both online and offline. Their mission statement is to ‘Serve as the global governing body for poker’.
The main reason people believe poker rooms are ‘rigged’ is due to the number of hands per hour. At a live poker table, you can expect around 30 hands per hour, but an online site can be as much as triple this! This leads to players seeing bad beat, high pairs, and other poker phenomena three times more often than live tables – giving the illusion that it is more probable in online poker.