A Basic Guide to the Poker Random Number Generator (RNG)

poker random number generator

Anyone who has played poker long enough will have heard of a poker random number generator, or RNG. People either look at it with scepticism after running bad for a while or have done their research and feel secure.  These are the two positions that are commonly divided in the poker world. Some people have even quit poker due to doubting the RNG – although we expect most of these players are regular losers and use RNG as a convenient scapegoat. In this post we will seek to explain what a poker random number generator is, how it works and attempt to answer whether it casts doubts into the security of poker in general.

What is a Random Number Generator (RNG)?

A random generator is software designed to generate completely random numbers from a specific range of numbers. RNG’s are commonplace in lots of sectors that require security and unpredictable results. They are particularly prevalent for online gambling where offshore casinos and cardrooms need to ensure results and poker hands are random.

How RNGs Work in Poker

All major poker sites have invested heavily in lab tested and independently verified random number generators to deal hands. They know that people are sceptical to the true randomness of their RNGs so use outside, unbiased 3rd party experts to check, monitor and verify their systems are random.

Poker sites vary in how their RNGs work. Some have a single shuffle which works in the same manner as a live poker deal. In other words, once the hands are dealt, the community cards are determined. The other method is known as the continuous shuffle. This works as a further security measure as while the hand is playing out, the remaining cards are continuously being shuffled. This makes the next cards to come out even more unpredictable.

Is Online Poker Safe & Secure Then?

Ultimately, when discussing the random number generator, we are questioning whether or not online poker is safe. I can answer that with an emphatic yes. Nobody can hack into online poker sites and figure out the RNG. If anyone was skilled enough to do this, they’d be figured out and instantly infamous. This kind of hacker would not only need the skills to hack advanced systems but get rich and hide it successfully.

As for the poker sites themselves, I’ve already answered the questions “is online poker rigged?” before and hold the same position now. All the major sites make too much money in rake. They know they are reliant on the RNG and its integrity. To have weak systems would be worse than foolish, it could close down their entire enterprise. Therefore, there is no internal or external threat to the RNG being compromised.  

In conclusion, the RNG in poker is what keeps the game pure and unpredictable. You may curse it when you get a cooler or a bad beat, but it’s the backbone of the game and ensures poker is trustworthy.

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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: info@texasholdemquestions.com