Is Online Poker Rigged? The Truth of it

is online poker rigged?

The most commonly asked questions asked by people new to online poker has to be “is online poker rigged?”. It’s fascinating how human psychology works. It isn’t even a question at first.. A player loses a little and it creeps in as a question, fast forward some bad beats and a few more online deposits and it becomes a statement “online poker is rigged”.  

Online poker’s credibility has faced skepticism over rigging allegations for years. The question doesn’t go away. However, licensed poker sites like GGPoker undergo extensive regulation to ensure fair shuffling and randomness.

Independent third party agencies, whose sole job is to ensure fairness are brought in to test a sites random number generator (RNG) , to make sure its completely random. As such, you can feel completely confident that a licensed poker room isn’t rigged. Still not convinced? You best read on…

Regulators Vet Online Poker Sites

Major online poker sites operate under gaming licenses from authorities like the Malta Gaming Authority and UK Gambling Commission. These regulators thoroughly vet licensees to guarantee compliance with all laws and regulations. Operators cannot receive licenses without passing rigorous tests proving fair games. All properly licensed online poker rooms offer safe, legitimate playing environments. Players should verify a site’s gaming license before playing though as any poker site without one hasn’t undergone the same testing as approved poker sites.

UK Gambling Commission

Where are the Whistle-blowers?

If major poker sites actually rigged their games, there would almost certainly be whistle-blowers exposing this misconduct. Online poker companies employ thousands of people across departments like software engineering, security, and customer service.

With so many staff privy to site operations, any coordinated rigging would leave an extensive paper trail. Employees would inevitably speak out against unethical practices that cheat players. The fact no staff have publicly accused operations of rigging games provides compelling proof of poker’s legitimacy.

Given the scale of major poker sites, rigging would require broad internal coordination across teams. However, no employees have produced tangible evidence of wrongdoing despite incentives to come forward. The lack of whistle-blowers further validates poker’s fairness for consumers. Players can trust their outcomes aren’t being manipulated behind the scenes.

Analyze Your Hands to See No Rigging Exists

One of the easiest ways to demonstrate a sites fairness is analyzing your own stats. By saving a large volume of hand histories, players can analyze their results with tracking software. This data reveals winning and losing scenarios occur at precisely expected frequencies. While small sample sizes produce skewed perceptions, over time, the randomness becomes evident. If consistently losing at small stakes, players likely need to re-examine strategy and rake impact, not the integrity of a poker site.

Online Operators Want Fair Games Too

Major online poker sites earn hundreds of millions in annual revenue. Rigging allegations and scandals would dramatically threaten these profits, as seen with former sites like UltimateBet.  Modern operators invest heavily in fairness and security to avoid this outcome. While conspiracy theorists believe rigged “coolers” increase rake, most games feature capped raking and similar cooler frequency as live poker. Operators lack financial motives to rig play. They make too much money in rake, a system that is heavily automated already. They’d never risk millions of profits with complex systems of rigging when they would be out of business if caught.

Cognitive Biases Lead to Perceptions of Rigging

Despite proof against rigging, some recreational players insist games seem pre-determined after quick losses. However, poker’s innate variance means luck impacts everyone through swings. Professionals manage this by using massive bankrolls, regardless of skill level. Small sample sizes also skew perceptions, as statistical anomalies occur over limited hands. Cognitive biases lead many players to blame external factors, rather than improve fundamentals.

cheating threats

Other Cheating Threats

While games aren’t inherently rigged, cheating dangers do persist online. Recent scandals involved illicit real-time assistance software. This is where the main threats are, not rigged games. Bots, hacking, and ghosting by colluding players threaten integrity of poker sites. Therefore, players should secure devices, use trustworthy sites, and remain vigilant against evolving cheating methods.

Winners Understand Variance; Losers Claim Rigging

Critically, almost no winning poker players believe games are rigged. Professionals recognize luck inherently impacts results through variance swings. Most rigging accusations come after big losses or bad beats from recreational players unwilling to improve fundamentals.

Successful players exercise proper bankroll management to withstand inevitable downswings. But losing players often lack bankrolls or discipline, instead blaming external factors. In reality, poker contains the luck factor where anyone can lose in the short run. True winners devote time to perfecting strategy, mindset, and risk management.

The fact many online pros earn six figures or more proves poker rewards skill over time, not predefined outcomes. Complaining about rigging simply exposes lack of knowledge around poker statistics and variance.

Is online poker rigged? No, but its an easy scapegoat if you’re losing isn’t it? To become a consistent winner, players must develop patience, embrace variance, and continually work to master technical skills.

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aelred o'doherty
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Jake Leach
12 October 2021

This article was originally written in 2020 and has been updated.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: