Simply put: Online poker is not rigged; people who play online and claim it is are unfortunately just bad players who don't want to blame their lack of skill for losing. However for beginner players taking their first steps online, many may harbour doubts over the integrity of poker sites. Hopefully this article will put right some common misconceptions.
Starting out playing poker in home games is an ideal introduction to the beautiful game. For those who want to take things further and play more, either a card room or online is the obvious option. Many plumb for online as it has obvious advantages – namely you don't have to travel, you can play for smaller stakes than a card room, and you're not forced to take the only open seat next to someone whose breath is so bad you can actually see the wall paper curling every time he announces his action. Understandably new players sometimes find online poker intimidating and come up with some common misconceptions which need addressing.
Cards are rigged in the poker room's favour
This main concern of most people is that the cards are rigged to give people very good hands to boost pot sizes between players and therefore the money spent at the site. This is simply untrue on many levels.
Firstly, poker sites use a random number generator (RNG) or sequence to determine how the cards are shuffled. Ensure you play at a poker site where their "source code" which is the software that creates the random numbers is verified by a third party (unverified sites are very rare). Having a third party test the code is imperative to ensuring that a site is operating within ethical boundaries.
Secondly it's not really in the interest of the poker room for the cards to be rigged so that big pots are generated. The poker room earns money from your rake; rather than them taking a large rake from a single pot, they'd much prefer that you carry on playing smaller pots over the longer term rather than have your bankroll decimated in a crooked hand. The rake generated will be a lot higher and more valuable to the poker room over the longer term. Also thanks to power of online poker forums if there was any hint or rumour that a site was manipulating the cards to generate bigger pots, it would almost certainly be 'curtains' for the poker room. They would lose a huge amount of business, far more than they would have earned by scamming customers. It's in the poker rooms' best interests to keep the games clean.
Another reason why people scream 'fix' is that unlikely hands seem to occur more often online. However this is quite simply due to the fact that you see so many more hands online. Compared to live poker where you may see around 30 hands per hour, online you could see around 50-60 hands in that time. Therefore you'll get dealt those "odds-defying" hands at almost twice the rate than you would in a brick & mortar environment.
Software that Reveals Hole cards
There's a very real case of this occurring at the moment with Absolute Poker. There's allegations that someone has got hold of a test account which reveals players' hole cards. This account would have been used in the software testing stage, and seems to have fallen into the wrong hands. To read the full story and keep up to date on this matter Google "Absolute Poker Scandal" or check out the 2+2 or Hendon Mob forum for the latest.
As for the junk email and ludicrous adverts which claim they can sell you software that will reveal your hole cards, just ignore them. If such software did exist, they certainly wouldn't sell it to you for the $200 they ask, it would be worth millions!! There is a way you can run software which reveals others hole cards, but it requires passwords from your fellow players – something tells me they won't be forthcoming with them though. Basically just ignore this scam - if it sounds too good to be true, don't be sucked in!
Cheating and Collusion
All the poker rooms we feature on site have dedicated teams set up to identify any cheating or collusion between players. If you have any suspicions, email the poker site and they will look in to the matter. For a clue to what you might be looking for, please read Carl Sampson's excellent article on cheating which applies to both online and live poker. Carl is a professional poker player and has written for many of the top magazines and runs his own website: www.pokersharkpool.com.