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How To Rig An Online Game And Not Get Caught

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My recent post Manipulating The Deck In Online Poker seemed to “stir up the pot” a bit as Bill Rini put it. I thought a lot of the feedback was interesting, and I responded to some of it in the comments section of the original post.

But I thought Bill’s feedback needed a new post to properly address. If you haven’t been following the discussion, definitely check out Bill’s post Online Poker Isn’t Rigged . . . Again!.

Bill makes essentially two points. First, he doesn’t think the risk/reward ratio is there to make it worth a big site’s while to try to rig their deck, and second he thinks actually rigging the deck is a lot harder than I made it sound.

Why Rig A Deal?

Bill said:

So, if we’re talking about a top ten room then I would say that the motivation for rigging the game favors not rigging it. As I articulate in a previous post there are so many other ways for a poker room to increase its profits from you that are entirely legitimate. And if you took the time to brainstorm a bit I’m sure you could come up with ten or fifteen more suggestions of minor tweaks the room could make to the game that would generate more hands per hour and/or more profits for the room. Until someone can answer for me why a room would go to all of the trouble to rig the game before having exhausted these other much more simple methods then I simply cannot buy this argument as being logical. Granted, a poker room might act in an illogical manner but if we’re to assume that all actors act in a logical manner then this doesn’t hold up.

I do sort of dismiss this argument, and I do so for two reasons. First, Bill poses a false either/or here. He suggests the cardroom could increase profits either in legitimate ways or by rigging the deck, and he prefers the legitimate ways. But obviously cardrooms could try both at the same time. There’s no reason for me to think that a cardroom would order these options in a “try all legitimate options then try rigging” manner.

Second, Bill says, “if we’re to assume that all actors act in a logical manner…” which I always think is a poor assumption. Most people aren’t strictly logical thinkers, and online cardrooms have, in my opinion, demonstrated many times over that they are run by people who often don’t make entirely logical decisions. And, beyond that, even “logical” people can be prone to making rash decisions when doom and gloom appears to be forthcoming. I’m reiterate the scenario I posed in the comments of the previous post. A major cardroom does an analysis of its traffic and concludes that even though it appears healthy to the casual observer, it’s actually in danger of losing a critical mass of customers within two or three years time. I could easily see a manager panicking and making an “illogical” decision under these circumstances.

Before I move on to the meat of this post, I want to reiterate that I’m not accusing any site of being rigged, and the vast majority of claims of rigging can be dismissed nearly on face. My whole point in this series of posts is to encourage people not to stick their heads in the sand. A site’s deal could be altered now and not yet have been discovered, or at some point in the future an honest site could turn dishonest. It’s possible, and the player community should be as vigilant as reasonably possible. That’s my argument.

How To Rig A Deal

Moving on. Bill argues that rigging the game to the benefit of a cardroom is neither easy to accomplish nor easy to conceal:

One of the other factors such an argument fails to properly consider is that over 90% of poker players are break-even or losing poker players. So what exactly is a fish? How are you going to rig the game in favor of the fish when there are so many fish and so few sharks? How would you determine which players to rig the action for and which one’s to shaft?

In my previous post, I mentioned that cardrooms could alter the game to improve their profitability. It’s been suggested by others that by rigging hands to favor “the fish” one could do so. That’s certainly a reasonable place to start, but I’m not arguing that helping out the fish means more money for a cardroom. That argument comes from other people, not from me.

My only point is that there likely exists some change one could make to the deal that would improve cardroom profitability. If you don’t grant that point, then you’re claiming that no-limit hold’em as it stands is essentially the perfect game for a cardroom to spread.

In any event, I think Bill is chasing his tail a bit here when he talks about how it’s hard to identify the “fish” from the “sharks”. I don’t think that it’s necessary to solve that problem at all. The theoretically dishonest cardroom cares about altering the game to make more profit, not necessarily helping one set of players against another.

Having said that, I do concede that if a cardroom were to explore these options, they might start by considering ways to blunt slightly the advantage a skilled player has. Here are possible alterations to the deal that might accomplish this goal without being too complicated:

  1. The cardroom could skew all-in confrontations to slightly boost the chances that the underdog hand wins. For instance, once two players are all-in, it could quickly calculate the equities of each hand and then deal cards such that the underdog hand consistently wins slightly more often than it “should”. Perhaps it could turn all 80-20 confrontations into 78-22 affairs. I mention this change first because it’s a specific one I’ve seen posited before.
  2. If the proposal above is too blunt an instrument (and possibly too detectable), then the cardroom could slightly shade the odds in favor of the player who called all-in at the expense of the player who bet all-in. So if I semi-bluff all-in and you call me, I would have a slightly worse chance than I “should” to win the hand.
  3. If you’re worried about detection, all-in hands are possibly not the best ones to alter since hand histories report the results of them with nearly complete information. So perhaps you alter the deal in non-all-in situations to slightly favor the player who called a bet over the player who made the bet. This would have the effect of making plays like firing turn barrels less effective since the calling player would “get there” more often than they should between the flop and turn.

Again, I’m not sure what game alterations would benefit the cardroom and what alterations wouldn’t. But I think it’s clear that at least some alterations exist that would benefit the cardroom, and I think a dishonest cardroom could use trial and error to try to find some that work to their benefit.

Also, note that these are all simple, systematic alterations to the game. They don’t require identifying “fish” and “sharks”, and they don’t require rigging hands individually according to some complex algorithm.

How To Hide The Evidence

The obvious criticism of this sort of alteration is that it would be detectable. Build a database of a few gazillion hands, run the right tests on it, and viola, you’re a newly minted whistleblower. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that simple, and part of the reason is that the burden of proof currently lies almost entirely on the accuser and not at all on the cardroom.

Plausible deniability. It’s a powerful weapon. Someone posts an article saying, “I think the deal at cardroom XYZ is rigged subtly in this peculiar way that benefits them. Here’s my data.”

Cardroom has the following response:

  1. We emphatically deny it. Why would we rig a deal when we already make so much money?
  2. That effect you observed is so small it’s probably just luck.
  3. If you go digging through the data enough, you’ll always find something that looks out of the ordinary.
  4. Prominent players A, B, and C have won a ton of money on our site. Clearly that makes the deal fair.
  5. Our code is audited by 3rd, 4th, and 5th parties. By the way, you’re just some jerk on 2+2.

Yada yada. Standard stonewalling tactics. In the meantime, the cardroom just backs out the offending code and the effect disappears. Just a weird run of cards, guys… nothing to see here.

In fact, the cardroom would likely get early warning that someone was on to them by reading 2+2. It’s not like the AP/UB thing were there were a few offending screen names that could be tracked. We’re talking about a systematic effect that would be reasonably subtle and where no one could easily point to a timestamp on, “See, as soon as we started talking about it the offending parties fled to a desert island.”

In other words, as long as they were sufficiently subtle about it, it would be very hard to detect in the first place (especially because no one that I know that has any skill at this sort of thing is really looking for it), and if detected, there’s simply no smoking gun. Just hire a PR firm and blast away until the controversy goes away.

Hiding The Evidence In An Even Sneakier Way

If you wanted to alter the game more than a few percentage points and still not get caught, you could probably do so nearly undetectably by piggybacking on a well-known effect that’s not well-studied. For instance, card removal.

I saw some post where someone noted that small cards were more likely to come on the river than big cards. A deuce is the most likely river card, an ace is the least likely, and the other cards are all distributed uniformly in between. This effect makes some sense from a card removal perspective. Two big hands might tend to see more rivers than one big hand and one small hand or two small hands. Big hands are more often made of big cards, and therefore the deck should be slightly rich in small cards by the river.

But how big should this effect be? Who knows? Is a 0.01% difference in frequency between a deuce and an ace reasonable? How about a 0.1% or a 1% or even a 5% difference? Sure, you could take a whack at it with simulation, but it’s hard to simulate the way people actually play… and how people actually play is important when we’re talking about card removal effects.

So say this difference “should” be 1%. The cardroom decides they want to systematically shift results to favor one hand type over another… and they look for opportunities to replace big cards on the river with small cards to make that happen. They replace the cards until the small card big card difference is 3% or 4%.

Anyone who went looking would notice that the all-in results didn’t line up with the theoretical results. But then when they attempted to account for card removal, they’d note that small cards came more frequently than expected on the river… an effect that piggybacks on card removal. Time for alarm bells? Or maybe card removal is just a little stronger an effect than we previously thought. Who knows?

Final Thoughts

None of this is too complicated to pull off. I’m going to alter my deal to favor underdogs in all-in situations. I’m going to carry that out by occasionally substituting a high card that would have come on the river with a small card that helps the underdog. I’m going to do it with a frequency such that it’s hard to detect unless:

  1. You’re looking specifically for it
  2. You have a huge sample of data
  3. You know exactly how much of an effect card removal should have and you can back that out of the data and still detect the anomaly

And then, after you detect it, you have to win the PR war to convince the world that this obscure effect you’ve found is real and you’re not just another “OMG IT’S RIGGED!!!!” kook. And you have to keep people convinced even if the effect subsequently seems to disappear or reverse.

If I’m a cardroom owner with plenty of greed, not a lot of scruples, and a huge ego, I might give it a shot…. even if I ran the biggest, most profitable cardroom in the world. I might be especially inclined to try it if I thought for some reason that my cardroom was on the way out and I needed to act to save it.

Finally, I feel compelled to reiterate some main points from both articles. I have no evidence or reason to believe that any current site has an altered deal. I don’t know how to rig a site to improve its profitability; I merely posit that it’s possible to do so. If a site were rigged in the ways I’m proposing, it would be entirely undetectable to the naked eye. In other words, “I’ve been noticing my good hands getting beaten a lot recently,” is not an observation that would lead me in any way to conclude that anything was wrong with the deal.

But I do think it’s possible. It’s possible an honest site will turn dishonest in the future, and it’s possible that a site we all think is honest today isn’t. It doesn’t mean a good player couldn’t still beat the game consistently or that any one player would get singled out for the doomswitch. But it’s possible that all is not quite as it seems in online poker.

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51 Responses to “How To Rig An Online Game And Not Get Caught”

Bill Rini
@ Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:14:03 AM
1

Hi Ed,

Thanks for the well reasoned response. I would like to highlight a weakness in your argument which you readily admit which is that you don’t know how rigging the game would impact the revenue or profitibility of the online poker site.

Personally, I don’t think some of the things you suggested would benefit the cardroom in any way. They would certainly change the game but I don’t believe that the room would be a beneficiary.

It’s unfortunate that we can’t simply put this whole argument to rest by legalizing online poker in the US and requiring hand history analysis. However some licensing jurisdictions do audit licensee poker rooms. If one wants to increase their chances of a fairly dealt game they might want to consider playing at sites licensed in strictly regulated jurisdications.

In the end, I don’t think we’re going agree on this one. You’ve presented a compelling argument but I’m still not convinced. Granted, I have a bias because I work in the industry. Maybe that’s the sticking point :-)

Cheers,

Bill

@ Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:18:46 PM
2

[…] Miller responds to Rini with, more or less, a blueprint of exactly how to run a crooked card room and avoid detection. Thanks, Ed. Article Credit: […]

Todd
@ Tue Sep 30, 2008 06:59:24 PM
3

I would also add that it doesn’t have to be the site that does the cheating. It is probably much more likely that an individual or small group backed by one of the wholesome elements of the gambling community that would endeavor to cheat in that way. It serves the community to be on guard and not just think everything will be ok.

Really, any time money is involved there is the possibility of some sort of cheating be it insider trading, bid rigging, bribery, rogue software, etc, etc, etc. To think that it couldn’t happen in online poker is little optimistic.

As an example (not to suggest this is the form it would take):

…snip…
Harris was a 12 year employee of the State Gaming Control Board who was assigned to evaluate gaming devices. He was arrested in 1995 in New Jersey for using a computer program to win $100,000 on a Keno game. He was later charged in Nevada for rigging slot machines to pay fraudulent jackpots and is now on parole for this crime and residing in Las Vegas. Harris was banned from New Jersey casinos in 1995.

Harris still works as a consultant in the gaming industry. Harris techniques were the ultimate in technical cheating. He had his own engineers upload software he had written onto slot machine computer chips when in the process of testing them. Other team workers could then play thoses machines and everyone shared in the profits.
…snip…

http://www.thegoodgamblingguide.com/spotlight/lasvegas/blackbookfrankrosenthal.htm

The ultimate in technical cheating is probably strong. As I recall, he got caught in much the same way that the UB/AP cheaters got caught in that he/the team won way more than was plausible.

andrzej
@ Wed Oct 01, 2008 02:44:30 AM
4

I am software developer.
I worked on several projects involving statistics and cryptology.
Usually I just implement my supervisor instructions
Many times I did not have idea-“big picture” how my code modification change business model or logic of software.
Sometimes nobody fully realizes changes.Only production environment and full analysis make people realize.
At the hart of online Poker game is RNG.RNG is usually used to shuffle the cards.
“A random number generator (often abbreviated as RNG) is a computational or physical device designed to generate a sequence of numbers or symbols that lack any pattern, i.e. appear random.
Poker sites use algorithms which meet some statistical test form randomness.
Ok.You can have 2 algorithms which meet all common statistical tests for randomness.
The real life shows that one algorithm will create 100 times more situations where money must go in – flush versus flush,set over set,etc.
Still both algorithms pass all common statistical tests for randomness.
The reason for my post is my impression that some have a lot of assumption about integrity online poker mechanics.RNG is one of example.

RNG != the integrity to the online poker game.

Greyzy
@ Wed Oct 01, 2008 06:12:23 AM
5

Ed and Bill,

although your points are certainly interesting it appears to be extremely difficult to prove or falsify your arguments. So my question to you is this:

What the heck am I going to do about it?

The only reasonable answer that has come up so far would be to support the installation of some supervisory institution that makes sure that the casinos don’t rig the game.

Is that all we can do???

Greyzy

P.S. Does anybody know if online casinos that offer Black Jack or slots etc. are checked by any institution? In those cases where the money can come from the house ONLY (no opponents to win from) the incentive of cheating the player must be even greater, right?

Bill Rini
@ Wed Oct 01, 2008 07:04:34 AM
6

@Greyzy: Or only gamble at sites that have a strong regulatory obligation. My personal opinion is that Alderney has the most strict compliance and audit standards.

Most regulatory bodies check all games offered. So for your PS question they would also audit the BJ results if they actually required an audit.

Tom Dwan
@ Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:58:30 AM
7

Dear Sir,

Would you like to go out on a date with me and discuss how I can rig the deck in my favor? I haven’t been running above expectation like before =(.

bernie
@ Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:58:09 AM
8

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t simply put this whole argument to rest by legalizing online poker in the US and requiring hand history analysis.”

Or random checks on a sites source code.

I agree with Ed that he’s only trying to show that it’s possible. It is. Businesses making multimillions get caught all the time trying to make a little more in some shady way. Sorry, but the history of gambling is littered with this too. Anyone that thinks it’s all lily white and pure and that no one would do anything does indeed have their head in the sand.

As far as BJ online? I don’t see why any site would put a beatable BJ game online. It’s much to vulnerable of a game.

b

Lin Sherman
@ Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:25:43 PM
9

Let’s do math! Or better yet, let twodimes do it for us.

As Ks vs Qh Qc:
No dead cards: 46.2 to 53.8
2d as a dead card: 46.8 to 53.2

The above is a case where removing a minor card from the deck stub and reshuffling before dealing the remaining cards would have a small but significant effect on either player’s chances. It would be difficult to detect by statistical analysis, but not impossible. In the short run you could explain it away as variance but if the longer-term results keep converging on this you’re going to have some explaining to do.

Other showdown situations are even harder to manipulate unobtrusively, and as a general rule, the bigger the underdog, the harder it is to slip him a few equity points without getting caught:

As Ah vs Kd Kc
No dead: 81.3 – 18.7
2s dead: 80.7 – 19.3

This is the same absolute equity swing (+/- 0.6%) as in the previous example, but it’s a much larger relative swing for the underdog hand – about +3.2% vs +1.3%. You might get away with claiming that someone winning 1.3% more pots than they should is within the MoE, but 3.2% is starting to push your credibility, and is even more likely to look suspicious if the longer-term results appear to keep converging towards it.

After the flop, it will be impossible in many cases to find a card that tips the scales for the underdog but not too much:

As Ks vs Qh Qc, flop 7h 6s 3s
No dead: 55.5 to 44.5
2s dead: 52.5 to 47.5
Kd dead: 52.6 to 47.4

Obviously that’s just way too big a swing – 3 whole equity points and a relative improvement of 6.7% for the underdog.

So is it theoretically possible to manipulate the deck in virtually undetectable ways? Yes. Is it practical? No. As I think the above numbers show, the opportunities to induce sufficiently small effects are more limited than people realize, and we haven’t even talked about issues such as dead cards in other people’s hands, multiway pots, or what to do about side pots. And as a number of commenters have pointed out, not just here but also in other forums where this sort of scenario has been discussed, it’s just not at all clear what the benefit to the site would be even if the site ownership were willing to make the non-trivial investment in developing the code to make such a scheme work.

Sam
@ Thu Oct 02, 2008 01:40:19 AM
10

I agree with Ed as well. And I think his suggestions are quite valid. The ultimate problem is that most people are susceptible to greed on some level that makes them compromise their moral standards. Two rather famous sayings come to mind, William Cowper said, the “Absence of proof is not proof of absence” and Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common”. One only has to look at politics and people’s voting patterns to see that. Without digressing too much, what I was more or less trying to say is what Ed stated so well already, that there are many ways to rig a software program. Also in response to what somebody said to one of my earlier posts…isn’t it intuitive to see how much easier and more difficult to detect the modification of a software algorithim is compared to the modification of a physical deck of cards? I get the feeling that a lot of people that believe in a card room’s integrity think of the software program as an actual deck of cards, which would be more much difficult to do in an overall manner, and would have to be done for specific players and recall knowing which cards were going to come out and when. This of course also involves dealers being complicit, as well as players being complicit. Whereas the software manipulation requires far fewer people to be involved.

Also in response to Bill Rini, I think you place too much faith in any auditing agencies that would regulate any online gaming. First, who’s to say that the auditing agencies has good auditing procedures? Second, for all you know the auditing agency is in bed with the gaming sites. They verify the site as reputable and nobody questions it…further does nobody remember the Arthur Anderson scandel as only one example?

Greyzy
@ Thu Oct 02, 2008 03:38:05 PM
11

@ Sam and others

Guys, your input is well meant and I don’t want to appear disrespectful, but honestly I have no need to read any more speculations, theories, arguments etc. why (or why not) poker sites MIGHT/SHOULD be rigged. Either there is a definite proof or there isn’t!

What I would rather prefer to discuss are your recommendations what TO DO in case the speculations about cheating are true. Then everybody would have a reason to decide for himself whether or not to believe that there is cheating going on, because then there’s ACTION one can take.

Right now it doesn’t matter if I believe there’s cheating or not, because I wouldn’t know what to do anyway…

So please come up with ideas what we could do rather than flooding yet another site with fruitless arguments!

TheZepper
@ Thu Oct 02, 2008 11:19:02 PM
12

Systematic cheating by sites is part of the risk you take to play. As anyone who has ever rigged a game of chance can tell you, there is a limit to how much you can “rake” off the top before players will take their action elsewhere.
I think this concept is called ….. supply and demand.
So I just consider any deck manipulation as part of the game and any loss incurrd as a form of additional rake. Therefore, as long as I can beat the game and its worth my time and effort to play – I’ll play. It pisses me off, but I’ll play.
If you can’t beat the game anyway, you just lose all your money a little bit faster.
To be blunt, the action I decided to take regarding this issue was to improve my game enuff so that I could absorb the additional “rake” of approx -1.80 bb/100 or so (don’t ask) and still maintain an acceptable win rate.

Slide
@ Fri Oct 03, 2008 01:24:29 PM
13

@ Lin

You can easily alter the effects by randomizing the chance to cheat in any given situation by 50%. Instead of 6,7% it would be 3.85%.
Or 33%, making about 2.23%
You could even use the suits of the cards to determine wether to apply your cheat tactics.

Fact is there are a gazillion ways to very slightly alter the outcome.

Sam
@ Fri Oct 03, 2008 03:52:36 PM
14

Greyzy,

I think I get where your overall response is themed…but let me address the first paragraph by itself. Humor me for a second. You saying there’s definite proof or there isn’t is like saying there’s WMD or there isn’t. And we all know what we went to war in Iraq for…my point is it is not that clear cut. This is a huge chazam of grey not one of black and white. Unfortunately, proving it, even if one has the statistical analysis like Ed already pointed out, is still an uphill battle. Ergo, it is not as easy as Liz would make it appear to prove.

To get on to the meat of your reply…what can one do…well since I am no legal expert I would suggest (if you’re actually looking for advice on something one could do that would forceably put the card rooms on notice) try consulting with an expert in international law and see what he/she would recommend. To the best of my knowledge the legal issue is very murky and my best advice would be to stop playing all together and remove your money if you suspect something. Assuming the money you have online is sufficient enough that this matters to you. Of course is the amount you have is relatively small and you are hoping to get lucky and score big despite what you think/believe to be going on, then cross your fingers…play your best and hope the software doesn’t pick you to mess with.

So when you say you don’t know what to do, I have to believe shutting your account down had to cross your mind…but it’s one you’re not that willing to consider.

On a related but tangetial topic…what do people think about the risk of collusion in online poker in one table SnG’s and ring games? We’ve been discussing so much what a site could do the code that we’ve totally bypassed this other aspect. I’m just curious to hear what other people have to say about it.

For what it’s worth I think that this has been a worthwhile discussion up to this point. I’m just surprised that nobody on here seems to be willing to try and perform the statistical analysis or form a group to do it.

TheZepper
@ Wed Oct 08, 2008 12:17:38 PM
15

Sam – I didn’t just make up the number -1.80 bb/100 as the amount of additional “rake” that some sites might be charging the good players (and passing on to the bad players to keep them around longer)- this is the result I got from the statistical anaylsis of my own play – over 300,000 hands.
However, I have decided – at this time at least – that my time is much better spent in learning to improve my own play than wasting it by joining a group trying to prove this is happening. I might change my mind at some point in the future if it appears that some good might come from the effort.
p.s. I believe that there is a group currently working on the issue at 2 + 2.

Manny
@ Wed Oct 08, 2008 06:24:58 PM
16

I really liked this article. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen an honest discussion on the topic. I wanted to add a few things I thought relevant.

One thing you mentioned is how easy it would be to detect something like the situation you described about skewing the odds between two hands so that the underdog had a slightly better chance to win. On that subject, I wanted to point out how incredibly difficult it would be to actually detect this. Almost impossible for the average player. Even when you have played online poker for years, as I have, and have a database of hundreds of thousands of hands, how do you go about comparing hands by odds? Poker tracker and other analysis software do not offer this capability. Sure you can look at the frequency of being dealt pocket aces, and you can see your win rate with any hand, but how do you pull up all the times you were a four to one favorite all in pre flop heads up?

About a year ago, I came to the conclusion that the best way a card room could fix the game would be to do exactly what you suggested: increase the chances that the underdog would win a hand when both players were all in. The benefit here is obvious…the closer an operation gets to raking a bunch of coin flips, the better. So, for example, if they could get hands that were 45/55 to be more like 50/50, it would go a long way toward keeping money in circulation between players longer, increasing the rake. This skewing of odds would be almost impossible to detect with current poker tracking software, which, of course, is made by companies who would be out of business if people didn’t play online poker, making detection of something like this against the best interest of the people writing the poker tracking software.

So I went about trying to figure out of the card rooms I was playing at were doing this. My brother in law and I started to compile all of the hands in which we were involved all in pre flop heads up in sit and goes. Simple criteria. If it was three way or more, we didn’t use it. If it was all in on the flop, we didn’t use it. We only used the hands were we got it all in heads up pre flop, and we used ALL of them, eliminating the possibility of human error caused by choosing only the sit and goes where we took a bad beat. After a few months and a couple of thousand all in hands, we analyzed the data and what I found made me want to vomit. It was so bad, I stopped playing at that card room. 60/40 hands were very close to coin flips and pair v. pair was getting close to 70/30. I expected to see a slight variation, but even with the small sample size we had, there was such a deviation that we calculated, with a 95% confidence interval, that the stats were off by at least six percentage points on most of the match up categories.

We sent our findings to the card room we tested and they replied that our sample size was too small. When I asked how many heads up all in pre flop hands I needed to prove my point, they replied with the figure of 100,000! This was laughable of course because the actual number you need for a 99% confidence and a standard deviation of 1% is only about 4,000. Of course I didn’t have 4,000 60/40 hands, but I did have 4,000 total hands and the fact that for each odds match category the odds were consistently skewed to favor the underdog showed a pattern. And although my calculated confidence interval was only 95% and my standard deviation was over 2%, we still had deviation that was large enough to show significant anomalies in each category. The card room dismissed us and stopped responding to our emails.

We both closed our accounts and switched to another card room. We started the process over again, and once we reached a sample large enough to give us the same level of confidence we had in the first sample, we analyzed the results. This time, the skew was much less, but it was still there and the deviation was still beyond the acceptable range. Again, this card room denied any wrongdoing and told me that my sample size was way too small. I explained the math to them again and they too stopped responding to me. Again, we closed our accounts with the second card room.

In order to detect this, an individual would have to do what I did. Collect the data and analyze it BY HAND. I suggest you try this. You will find the results to be very interesting. And the only way people who think online poker is straight will be convinced will be to do on their own for themselves. I know, because I posted this data on a few forums and I was accused of using false data or leaving out hands to make the result look skewed.

So again, this kind of analysis is almost impossible for the average player and there is no software out there to help you do it. You have to do it yourself. And I’m positive that anyone who does it will find exactly what I found. Many of the major card rooms are engaging in this practice and they will continue to do so until online poker is regulated by the government and all these odds are checked by some oversight board.

Regards,
Manny

guitarizt
@ Wed Oct 15, 2008 05:25:26 AM
17

Manny can you email me what sites you were at that had the weird results? My address is my name at hotmail dot com.

*puts on tinfoil hat*

Steve
@ Sat Oct 18, 2008 11:10:39 AM
18

Hi, I’ve seen some very strange things myself, and I consider myself to be a good player, I’ve placed in the money in fields over 12,000 players a few times and various other smaller fields as well. I’ve played a bunch of sit n gos and lots of heads up games also. I’ve noticed the same thing time and time again and it scares me because it just doesn’t seem right. It has gotten to a point where I dread having pocket aces or a high pair to start off, or that I know someone flopped a set or can see the straight that came, but it’s just so highly unlikely that the occurrences of these situations happen time and time again. I went on such a string of disgusting beats that it doesn’t seem like the site said “I think that you have just been having a bad run of cards lately, it is a
shame that players have been sucking out on you. I sincerely hope that your
cards stand up in the future when you have your respective opponents dominated.” I really believe that something is triggered, I could be wrong, and have seen more times than not really good hands get beaten far too often at an unusually high frequency. The odds of most of these occurrences seem highly suspect. If you could Manny please email me with the site you found this at because I believe that we’re talking about the same one, my email is sdaf15@yahoo.com, thanks, Steve

Stephanie
@ Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:09:16 AM
19

I believe a particular site is rigged because way to often, when the short stack goes all-in, they almost NEVER win. The loosing player then goes to the lobby and joins another game. That is how the site makes money. The sooner you are out, the sooner you will (pay to) play another game. Makes sense, and it’s so obvious! I’d like to know who the authorities are that you would report this to and get them involved in an audit. Can someone please tell me who the authorities are.

PD
@ Mon Mar 09, 2009 05:16:33 AM
20

Bill I bet you are religious. I bet if you have kids you give them Mcpoison with a clear conscience. Mcdonalds is huge. They would never put things detrimental to health in their food, they would lose all their business.

I don’t believe in coincidences. But if you do then you’ll love the fact that the two largest sites with the most traffic, the ones being accused of bending the decks, are the same sites that are able to bend around the us regulations; which seem to be pushing all the other sites away, giving the traffic over to these monopolies.

I’ve already done stat tracking of these sites, specifically full tilt and they are not even close. I won’t bother posting there are plenty of posters with thousands of stats and it doesn’t matter. Online poker is a drug. The druggies don’t care if their coke is cut with baby powder and the ones that do will complain but go right back to using.

Please stop talking about government regulation. All you have to do is pop a few dollars in some senators hands and voila anything you want chief. Just ask the pharmaceutical companies. Its depressing I know but if people are dumb enough to accept it then who am i to burst their bubbles. If you can’t beat them join them. I’m a pharmacy student myself.

Justin
@ Sun Mar 22, 2009 02:38:39 PM
21

I don’t neccessarily think anything is rigged (except for the obvious scandal) I just think it’s nothing like a real deck of cards in a casino.

I don’t buy the “randomness.”

Can someone explain to me if it’s simaler or different from a real deck and how?

online
@ Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:04:37 PM
22

So all I have to say is – If you think Online Poker is rigged – then do some research, look at all the factors involved, then make an educated decision for yourself. Don’t sell yourself short – learn something about the business so you can make your own decisions that are based on fact, rather than emotion.

And if you still think it is rigged – then simply don’t play. Leave the fun for the rest of us, and go and abuse your local casino poker dealer when you get beaten on the river. Yes it happens there too you know…..

I’m going to go play a Sit & Go – have a good Thursday everyone.

Eva

spadebidder
@ Tue Apr 28, 2009 08:18:16 AM
23

Ed – Most of your undetectability speculations have disappeared in the past 6 months or so due to the increasing availability of very large hand history databases for analysis, and the exponentially increasing study of what is “normal” including the card removal effects mentioned.

There are at least two groups who have accumulated over 1 billion hands for study and made them available for analysis. Recently the card removal effect that causes Aces to flop less often than deuces was exactly quantified over 175 million seen flops, and as expected the flop distribution in holdem exhibits a smooth slope upward from Aces at ~7.5% to deuces at ~7.8%. This slope is seen at all holdem games from heads up to full ring, with HU being most pronounced (as expected) with the delta being almost half a percent from Ace to deuce. The effect is so consistent and predictable that an alteration would show up immediately in large databases.

With the current state of datamining and the large databases that are being accumulated and studied, I don’t think that a profitable rigging scheme can go undetected any more, although that may have once been true.

The good news is that no poker site has ever been shown to have anything but a random deal, so far.

Simon
@ Tue Aug 25, 2009 05:48:47 PM
24

I tell you what. If you go all in and you got less chips than the other guy you lose far more than the odds dictate. As someone suggested it makes perfect sense for two reasons. One, you go out and fire up a new game=more rake. Two, the quicker that MTT finishes the more money they make! I have seen time and time again the best hand losing when you are all in for months on end! Yes badbeats happen live, but not to the extent they do online when you are all in and covered in chips!

Let’s face it. Why has not one online poker room ever proven without any doubt whatsoever it is a total random ‘shuffle’?

Ted
@ Thu Sep 10, 2009 02:49:53 AM
25

I think what most people fail to realize is that the poker site is not rigging the game so the ‘house’ has an advantage.
It is a misnomer to say rigged, however, the algorithms used and the subroutines implemented does make the game less fair.
Paul Westin has further described and outlined this in his Online Poker Code Crack, which basically reveals the structure of the online poker software and the algorithms that create an unfair advantage to anyone privvy to those seqential algortithms.

The following post explains further http://steinreview.blogspot.com/2009/08/online-poker-rigged-secret-revealed.html

Hope this helps!

steviejj
@ Sat Jan 23, 2010 01:52:34 PM
26

I am 100% convinced that online poker IS RIGGED!.
I have played over 1000 hours of online poker at the cash tables and mainly low/micro stacks as I don’t have the finances to play higher. During my time playing at various different sites I have noticed falmilar patterns at each site. To begin with everything runs fine and my strength of play seems to show through as i double treble then quadruple my bankroll in no time at all.
Then something strange starts to happen. No matter what cards im dealt and how I play them I cannot win. Even more curiously i’m finding my ace ace and king king bust in HEADS UP action against bad callers with totally dominated hands like A9 (of suit) VS myAA, and K9(of suit) VS my KK. And this always seems to happen when in all ins when the pots get juicy. I have counted losing ACE ACE and KING KING around 7 to 8 times in a row to ‘fish’ callers in heads up with their dominated garbage. And suddenly my hard won profit starts to plummet due my premiums sucking out 80 to 90% of the time when they should be winning at this percentage heads up, not losing at it!
Put simply some of the bad beats i have suffered have been sick, and at a an alarming frequency which would just never happen in live play. One particular example that sticks is when i was dealt ace king, some guy before me raised 4 times the big blind i called everybody else in the pot folded. the flop comes down kk9 rainbow with no two suited cards on the flop. a nut flop for me so as any self respecting player holding the nuts i checked hoping for a raise. Sure enough i got it the guy raised all in I knew straight away I going to lose even though i knew my present hand was winning. I thought maybe he has ak too or k9 and flopped the nuts fullhouse, but then why raise preflop with k9 hardly a raising hand in a full table of 9. So of course i called. with cards on their backs it turns out he had ace 9 of hearts. so he had 2 9s to my 3 kings and only one heart on the board. anyway im sure you can guess what happens next, turn 6 hearts, river 10 hearts! other than drawing a turn of 9 and river of 9 hitting quad 9s i got the only suckout i could of, and he pulled it of with runner, runner flush! so I lost the pot and all my hard earned cash at that table.
What amazes me is this guy had been playing tight the whole time i’d been playing at the table making moderate raises in other hands where he was clearly better then on my hand where he had nothing but a pair of 9s and ace kicker raises his hand like a maniac holding the nuts!
This is not just a one off bad beat, this shit happens all the time! and always when my bankroll hits a certain point. It makes me wonder who i am playing against and I am highly suspicious that not only do sites use bots at their tables but also what I would call ‘site operatives’ – players that work for the site or are affiliated with them through advertising or promotion.
The site im talking about here is Partypoker and as far as i am concerned it is a rigged piece of shit site that favours fish. It also deals you premiums to screw you out of money as thats where most of the bigger betting is. So if starting to hit a losing streak online despite how your playing your hands, watch out! when your ace king hits the flop and some chump is reraising you or betting big, they probably havent got shit but will hit their gunshot straight or whatever outside draw they are chasing by the river. You have been warned!

Vehe
@ Thu Mar 11, 2010 01:15:44 PM
27

Yeah, Partypopker is just surreal. I have never seen so many drawy boards, coolers and suck-outs in my life. Never mind their bonuses, whatever they’ll give you they will take the double from you in insane bad beats or coolers.

I remember one year ago playing nl5 at party because I received free $ to play there…as soon as I reached $200 I went almost an entire month without making a dime. It was everyone hitting 2 and 3 outers on me. If I hit a set I was guaranteed to lose to a straight or flush. If I flopped a flush everytime the turn or river would bring another card of the same suit and I would lose to the Ace high flush. If I had big pair like KK or AA and villain had a flush draw on the flop the turn would always complete the flush (I really mean always, 10 times out of 10!!!) And so on and so on. I remember finally telling my friends that as soon as I completed the bonus PartyPoker would never see me again. I then went to UltimateBet and started on a real bad-swing but it was completely different. It was extreme bad luck but I could clearly see it was just variance because there were no patterns like in partypoker. I quickly got out of the bad-swing, made some money and decided to move to Pokerstars because the UB software was a pain in the ass for me.
On Pokerstars I played a hell of a lot of time, got my fair share of bad beats, coolers and what not but everything completely normal, it was just poker. Made a lot of money there and took it out some months ago.

Recently, I got some cool Bonus offer from partyPoker again and since I didn’t remember what I went through on that room I decided to accept it.
Lol, this is no joke, as soon as I hit $200 playing nl5 again everything went insane. The same patterns that i had forgot about were all back. I play 9 tables at a time and sometimes I just sit there and notice the board textures to make sure I’m not imagining things. It’s real, the same patterns over and over again. Still, I know how to play and was able to make money and move to nl10 easily. Now this was where the fun began… 10.000 hands, 90% of the hands I played I got coolered or got bad beats. This is no joke,I’m running at -17.99bb/100!!lol Sure, 10.000 hands isn’t that much but I recognize those patterns so well that It doesn’t even matter. What I mean by that is seeing the flop and already knowing what the board will look like by the river.
Random Number generator my ass…
And yes, I’ve got all the hand history on Holdem Manager to prove this.

James
@ Sun May 16, 2010 03:38:32 AM
28

seriously guys, this stuff is audited, checked and signed off by an independent fairness authority:
http://www.ecogra.org/Home.aspx

check out most if not all card rooms will have links to certificates issued by ecogra with regards to fair dealing and shuffling…
if im all in and the other guy only has one out that can help him on the river… guess what… that is possible.

It is also possible to get shafted on the river time and time again, in fact, it is fully possible for you to lose to the river on every hand you showdown (unlikely, but possible)
so how about you stop whining and play the game?

29

[…] How To Rig An Online Game And Not Get Caught · Professional Texas Hold’em Tips and Stra… […]

Ryan
@ Wed Feb 23, 2011 05:54:54 AM
30

I agree with Ed – yes rigging is possible in many ways. Does it go on in reality? Maybe.

One way to find out would be to compare how many winning players run below ‘all-in EV’ compared with losing players or winning players that run above ‘EV’.

Having read posts on popular poker forums it seems that more winning players run below ‘EV’ than above ‘EV’ – this is just anecdotal evidence but with all the players out there now a bigger study could be done.

Personally – may way of dealing with the possibility of rigging is: if I have a bad run of cards I cash out and move to another site – this seems to work in favour of my bankroll!

lefou
@ Sat Dec 10, 2011 06:15:57 PM
31

I would rig a poker site by doing the following, very easy, “tweak”:

simply deal a higher than average number of pre-flop all in confrontations…..

I have noticed, since switching from FullTilt to Eurosport poker that I see far far fewer AA vs KK confrontations. On FT this seemed to be very common occurrence.

This tweak guarantees the site maximum rake + high turnover of deals!

anyway…..just a thought

allen
@ Sat Mar 31, 2012 03:36:10 PM
32

It’s in the flops u fool. I get sick of being online table, and see 10 to 20 blown up flops in a row. 9 players at online table, and not one will notice this. And I’ve been in hundreds if not a thousand online table, and 30 blown up flops in a row and never out of the 1,000 players every mention it, or say anything.
This players are winning but the can’t see the manipulation in front of there face. All you get is a player saying NH after a player wins with a underhand that gets a j,4,5,6,7 board going aginst a KK, and he has a As 8d..NH says a player at table. What a NH????? didnt before online poker wasn’t a NH only if that player won using only his pocket, and flop cards? Not using 4 board cards, and 1 pocket card. their use to be a difference between NH, and just a lucky hand, or a hand that wins.
flops 8D 4D JD, —10S 9S 5D —7D 5D 7S—AC 4C JS—9S 10S JD—Kd Qs 8d—-Js Jc KS—7s 8d 9s—-As 2D Ks—-3s 9d 5s—-I can deal these 10 flops in 1,000 of tables with 9 players full, and not one online so called good player would catch these manipulated flops..not one player.
This is a terrible thing to happen to poker. 100,000 of players thinking each other is a player, and if cheating was happening it would be something simple to see like 5 kings dealt in one hand, or a player dealt nothing but pocket aces. I shouldn’t give online players that much credit in seeing fake deals, there to busy saying NH NH NH NH NH. Which I’m sure the online poker sites filled the tables with a player that wins a lot, and says nh nh nh to brainwash new players in to thinking this guy wins most hands he must be good i’ll do what he’s doing nh nh nh nh dont question the 100 flop in a row like 7s 6d 10s.
The 2 same suited cards with cards that support a str8 in the flops is the oldest stacked deck trick thats been used for 100s of years. Deal these flops 8D 4D JD, —10S 9S 5D —7D 5D 7S—AC 4C JS—9S 10S JD—Kd Qs 8d—-Js Jc KS—7s 8d 9s—-As 2D Ks—-3s 9d 5s on a 9 player table, and 4 to 7 players will think they have a good chance in winning the hand and will bet all the way to the river, and will say nh. Okay I love doing this. Show me a flop of 2S 7D KC ON A ONLINE POKER TABLE, AND I’LL PAY YOU $100.00. How easy is that with 100,000 flops dealt daily there has to be one 2S 7D QC FLOP..If you can find a 3s 8d Kh flop I’LL PAY ANOTHER $100.00…I’VE MADE THIS CLAIM SINCE 07. I guess with over 50 million flops dealt never a 2 7 q or 3 8 k flop has every been picked randomly by the programer. THINK …It will happen soon some programer will be oh sht someone thinking! oh hell need to program it to deal 2 8 k four times each hour now, and stop the blown up flops 30 times in a row, needs to only do 20 in a row.

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