# Online Poker / Playing Against The Computer

• I was having a look at the forums of the bigger online poker sites and one topic that seems to continually come up is that the software (for whatever reason) does not play fair and that hands are rigged.

Do people here think that there will always be an element of doubt (or paranoia) when playing computer controlled games of chance?

(I remember a backgammon game I had on the Amiga where the computer always seemed to manage to throw the exact dice combination when it needed to.)

(I remember a backgammon game I had on the Amiga where the computer always seemed to manage to throw the exact dice combination when it needed to.)

I remember a confirmation bias that confirmation biased the confirmation bias.

(I remember a backgammon game I had on the Amiga where the computer always seemed to manage to throw the exact dice combination when it needed to.)

Back when I was in college, I played a lot of backgammon with the denizens of the math department computer lab. I got accused of cheating a lot, and I knew I wasn't cheating. The thing is, to play backgammon well, you take the bad rolls and use them to set you up so that more of the rolls in the future are good. It seems like you're getting a lot more "good" rolls. So to a novice, you seem consistently lucky.

I don't play poker well enough to know if there's an effect like this in poker. I would't be surprised though, computers can handle complicated statistical calculations like this a lot better than a human.

• Games of luck where a "bank" is involved are rigged by design.

The best example of this is Roulette, where the rigging is done in the very rules of the game (so that on average, about 2% of the bet go to the bank).

I am pretty sure these online poker games use a similar rule (possibly transaction fees, if anything else in the game is fair). Also, Poker is sufficiently simple to do a full analysis of a 1v1 situation in very short time for a computer (in fact, I once wrote a simple one in Perl that just did random guesses for the other cards, and it was good enough to consistently win against a Poker game on the Blackberry with just testing about 30000 random situations - and I suppose, in an efficient language, even a "restricted brute force" approach (brute force with early rejecting bad situations) would work out very well).

So, if you claim such a game is rigged, read the rules. It will most likely be explained there how and by how much the game is rigged. The random number generators though what I would expect to be least rigged.

I was having a look at the forums of the bigger online poker sites and one topic that seems to continually come up is that the software (for whatever reason) does not play fair and that hands are rigged.

Do people here think that there will always be an element of doubt (or paranoia) when playing computer controlled games of chance?

(I remember a backgammon game I had on the Amiga where the computer always seemed to manage to throw the exact dice combination when it needed to.)

Don't mix two different things, the technical fact and the psychological one. In a game versus the "bank" simulated by the software, even if it secretly gave a slightly better chance to win to players, let's say if in a roulette software you had 1.05 / 2 chances to win a 50% bet (like a color bet : red or black), there would still be more players complaining that the software is cheating against them than players thinking they're advantaged. Brains just don't seem to like good events and remember better the bad ones...

I was having a look at the forums of the bigger online poker sites and one topic that seems to continually come up is that the software (for whatever reason) does not play fair and that hands are rigged.

Do people here think that there will always be an element of doubt (or paranoia) when playing computer controlled games of chance?

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals. They get their fees (entry fee, per hand rake, per hour table time fee, whatever), win, lose or draw. They will earn nothing more from rigging the hands, and stand to lose everything if they are caught.

Second, player vs. house games-- blackjack, roulette, etc.  As mentioned above, there's a "house edge"-- a statistically guarenteed income over the long run. The more people playing / the longer they play == more money for the house.  If the house rigs the deals, they will see a slightly higher than average income, but at the cost of being labelled a "cheat"-- which will effectively destroy the entire operation.  And it's damn easy to spot a cheating house, given enough game logs.

Third, will people doubt the houses' honesty?  Of course. It sucks to lose, and "they were cheating" rationalizes it.

For further reading, two good sites are:

http://wizardofodds.com/ -- Statistical analysis, probability, strategy and advice from a math wiz. Lots of great articles and calculators.

http://www.casinomeister.com/ -- Casino Meister. [b]The[/b] unofficial, de-facto standard for online casino ranking and certifcation. If you think a casino is cheating, check here for info.  (In fact, check here to read if a casino is honest before even bothering to play in it).

• This bit on claw cranes (and gambing in general) is pretty informative.

Essentially, if the operator is legally entitled to organize a gambling activity -ranging from a clane craw to slot machines- the state doesn't care what chances of winning or payouts
the poor gambling addict has, as long as the state gets to collect the gambling taxes.

• @Lorne Kates said:

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals. They get their fees (entry fee, per hand rake, per hour table time fee, whatever), win, lose or draw. They will earn nothing more from rigging the hands, and stand to lose everything if they are caught.

Yeah, but the whole thing's under the table, right? It's not like a Vegas casino where there's a government agency to examine every line of code in their random number generator, and the odds have to be clearly stated, right?

I get your point, but it just means that the company needs to be more subtle about it, not that they can't do it at all. And even if some of their customers figure it out, that won't necessarily spread to all their other users.

(I remember a backgammon game I had on the Amiga where the computer always seemed to manage to throw the exact dice combination when it needed to.)

I read a blog post about someone who had disassembled the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_II]Risk II[/url] source once and out of the few functions that used the RNG one was always called for human/player rolls, one always for player v.s. computer rolls and one always for computer v.s. computer rolls. The first one didn't take any inputs as you'd expect a dice function take but both the second ones had a mirad of inputs and were considerably longer with a few formula's and if/switches...

This did make it very likely what a lot of people already suspected, that the dice rolls are stacked against humans to help the AI (which was pretty decent, but failed miserably against a more-than-casual player). Still a good game though

• @blakeyrat said:

Yeah, but the whole thing's under the table, right? It's not like a Vegas casino where there's a government agency to examine every line of code in their random number generator, and the odds have to be clearly stated, right?

I get your point, but it just means that the company needs to be more subtle about it, not that they can't do it at all. And even if some of their customers figure it out, that won't necessarily spread to all their other users.

There's a few (nearly useless) overseer agencies for online casinos. The real overseeing comes from the player base, and sites like Casinomeister.

Sure, they don't have access to the source code, but being able to analyze the results are good enough. You don't need to know how a RNG is cheating, just that it is. At least with an online casino, there are logs of your (and all other players) gameplay to analyze.  You can even keep records yourself, which is something you can't do in a Vegas casino.

Sure, a casino can be subtle about cheating-- but then they won't make gobs of money, which is the whole point of cheating. It's a risk/reward thing. No risk, and they get 15% profit.  (The house edge combined with bad playing is disgustingly large like that).  If they check really brutally hard, maybe they get 25% profit-- but at a near 100% chance of being caught. The risk-of-getting-caught goes up pretty much exponentially-- each slight increase in reward is a huge increase in risk.  The numbers are approximate, but reflect reality.

It won't necessarily spread to all other users, but it will spread to enough. There are, at last check, about fifty hundred thousand British Standard fucktons of online casinos out there-- but only a relatively small Euro-African handful of players. Competition is extremely fierce. Not all the players are savvy, but they are all afraid of being cheated. So a significant portion of players are reading reviews of casinos, and will come across anti-cheating websites like Casinomeister.

A casino, especially a start-up one, doesn't need to lose all its players. Just a good portion of them, and then the cost of running the casino (server hosting, bank fees, IT staff, accounting, the cost of the casino software itself, etc, etc) will far outweigh the few bucks they'll get of the unsavvy player-- even if they are cheating him.

The whole industry is completely unregulated, and yet completely self-regulated. Anyone can set up a casino, and doesn't have to be the least bit honest. But then there's a group of people who are scrupulously honest and mathematically savvy. The number of players, and the dollars they have, is a limited resource spread very thin. A casino doesn't have to post its odds, guarantee a certain return, follow any rules or regulations, or give a flying fuck what some dumbtwits on an Internet forum say-- but when those dumbtwits have the ear (and thus influence over the wallet) of a significant portion of their customer base, they have to listen, or go out of business.

(And if you check the Rouge's Gallery, you'll see that there are, even to this day, casinos who are less than reputable-- and who go out of business)

•  It's been my understanding for some time that online casinos used quantum RNGs... so in theory there shouldn't be much code to examine. They just pump a continuous stream of random bits and all the programmer has to do is read it and dump it into variables.

• @Sudo said:

It's been my understanding for some time that online casinos used quantum RNGs... so in theory there shouldn't be much code to examine. They just pump a continuous stream of random bits and all the programmer has to do is read it and dump it into variables.

Even if that were true (which I higly doubt because they're not cheap) it would still require some code to get the data from the devices and into usable form

• @Lorne Kates said:

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals. They get their fees (entry fee, per hand rake, per hour table time fee, whatever), win, lose or draw. They will earn nothing more from rigging the hands, and stand to lose everything if they are caught.

That's not quite true. In the ordinary course of things, there's no great incentive to cheat. But that applies to all casinos throughout history, really, and we know that some were crooked. In addition, honest casinos often have dishonest employees.

If one were dishonest, it would be easy to implement a system that would favour particular players at particular times, whilst smoothing out the stats - because the game logs only record one player's game-status, and so you can exploit the situational value fluctuations of particular cards/combinations to make sure that all players are receiving the same cards long-term, whilst one is receiving them at much better times.

A very - overly - simple example would be the difference you'd see if you had three aces when your opponents all had good hands - say, three kings, three queens, etc - and could get plenty of money in the pot before winning the hand, compared to getting three aces when everyone else had rubbish cards and folded immediately.

As long as you have lots of players, and only a couple of stooges - perhaps automated players - as described, then the game is easy to rig in an undetectable manner.

All this said, though, it's almost entirely confirmation bias that leads to people claiming games are rigged. FIBS (fibs.com) is a free backgammon server. They don't make any money at all, are run by a group of players, and are well known to be honest. Despite that, people who lose to the (third party) bots on there repeatedly claim the bots have some way of rigging the dice.

• As a previous submitter (although without success) to the Underhanded C Code Contest, I know it is quite possible to "seemingly accidentally" rig a game.

Imagine a situation like this, for a Poker game's computer hand evaluation:

```#define NUM_CARDS 5
#define MAX_CARD 4
Card cards[NUM_CARDS * 2]; // first player cards, then computer cards
Card cards_save[NUM_CARDS * 2]; // temp storage

int evaluate_current_game(); // returns -1 if human wins, +1 if computer wins, 0 otherwise

double evaluate_my_cards() {
// save what we have
memcpy(cards_save, cards, sizeof(cards_save));
// to make sure the game is not rigged, clear the player's cards
memset(cards_save, 0, sizeof(cards) * MAX_CARD);
// try random combinations of what the player might have
int wins = 0, losses = 0, draws = 0;
for(int i = 0; i < RANDOM_ATTEMPTS; ++i) {
deck_init_from_cards(); // set the deck to "all cards except the ones still in cards"
for(int j = 0; i < MAX_CARD; ++j) {
cards[j] = deck_draw_card();
int r = evaluate_current_game;
if(r < 0) ++losses;
if(r > 0) ++wins;
if(r == 0) ++draws;
}
// copy back
memcpy(cards, cards_save, sizeof(cards));
// return evaluation
return (wins + draws * 0.5) / (wins + draws + losses);
}
```

This code is slightly rigged - it "accidentally" knows about the 5th card the player has, and uses it to get a small edge in the game (and also makes the code run faster...).

• @C4I_Officer said:

This bit on claw cranes (and gambing in general) is pretty informative.

Essentially, if the operator is legally entitled to organize a gambling activity -ranging from a clane craw to slot machines- the state doesn't care what chances of winning or payouts
the poor gambling addict has, as long as the state gets to collect the gambling taxes.

In Colorado there are laws about payout. Slot machines have to maintain a certain payout level or they are illegal. Typically the slots are looser than the state requires, and the house still has a huge advantage. The house advantage is well known, so if you're looking at standard gambling games like Blackjack and Roulette, the house has a statistical advantage, and good players know what it is. With Blackjack, it requires some skill to achieve the minimum house advantage - the least you can lose at Blackjack is about 0.7% - rounding up, it's about a dollar for every hundred dollars you bet. So, in Colorado the best you can do is be down a dollar every 20 hands. If you don't know this, and you combine that with poor Blackjack strategy, it is going to seem like the house is beating you an awful lot.

In poker it's different - you are actually playing against another player, and they have no statistical advantage over you. Poor playing will elucidate the computer's advantage very quickly. It understands what's coming in the cards and it doesn't make any stupid mistakes, like thinking there's another Ace in the deck when all four are showing - this is a mistake I've personally made, and humans make these mistakes all the time.

• @intertravel said:

That's not quite true. In the ordinary course of things, there's no great incentive to cheat. But that applies to all casinos throughout history, really, and we know that some were crooked. In addition, honest casinos often have dishonest employees.

OK, bad wording on my part. There's no incentive for a (mostly) honest casino to consider switching from Honest to Crooked, given the profits they rake while being Honest, and the risk they'll take becoming Crooked.

There's too much risk for a Crooked casino to start off Crooked. They won't operate long enough and become popular enough to become profitable. They won't ever be as profitable as if they were Honest.

Any casino that becomes Crooked will be found out given enough time, and the amount of time needed to detect becomes less and less, given the scrutiny they are under. The shorter the time it takes, the less profitable being Crooked is.

Brick-and-mortal casinos:  They will have less user scrutiny, but given the massive startup costs, have an even higher stake in becoming popular and profitable. They have to worry much more about dishonest employees, yes, but that's what (at least) half of the security in a casino is for. They're not just watching the players. Being a crooked casino employee is VERY risky.

Online casinos can also have issues with crooked employees, but because of the massive user scrutiny, they will be caught. Case in point, a few years ago on Absolute Poker, a few users got hold of a superuser account. Basically, they could see the other players hands. They took it to the high stakes tables and get quite a bit of money. Those who lost money complained about it on a forum, but rather than "I think the computer is teh cheatz!", they went "hmm, that's odd, I'm used to losing, but statistically, this doesn't make sense. Here's my game logs. Does anyone else have logs vs. these players?"  An analysis was done, the statistical improbabilities were revealed, and the Absolute Poker scam came to light.  (I am way too lazy to post links for that one, but google is far less lazy than me).

My overall point is this:  Yes, cheating is possible.  No, it isn't rampart. In fact it is so risky, that only the stupidest and greediest will try it, and will do it at such a stupid and greedy level that they will get caught. If you stay informed by checking the reputation of casinos, you're all but safe. Feel free to call shennanigans at any time, but have your game logs handy. You're either paranoid, or some very smart people will prove you right.

• @dtech said:

This did make it very likely what a lot of people already suspected, that the dice rolls are stacked against humans to help the AI (which was pretty decent, but failed miserably against a more-than-casual player). Still a good game though

This could also be in favour of the player, making the computer more prone to losing when it's convenient for the human player, to cause upsets and such.

• Obligatory:

• @Lorne Kates said:

@intertravel said:
That's not quite true. In the ordinary course of things, there's no great incentive to cheat. But that applies to all casinos throughout history, really, and we know that some were crooked. In addition, honest casinos often have dishonest employees.

OK, bad wording on my part. There's no incentive for a (mostly) honest casino to consider switching from Honest to Crooked, given the profits they rake while being Honest, and the risk they'll take becoming Crooked.

There's too much risk for a Crooked casino to start off Crooked. They won't operate long enough and become popular enough to become profitable. They won't ever be as profitable as if they were Honest.

Any casino that becomes Crooked will be found out given enough time, and the amount of time needed to detect becomes less and less, given the scrutiny they are under. The shorter the time it takes, the less profitable being Crooked is.

Well judging from CasinoMeister it would appear that there are both honest and crooked online casinos.  The honest ones do not seem to rig hands or stiff their customers.  The crooked ones have a business model of appear from nowhere, cheat as many people as you can until the wheels comes off then disappear before starting again at square one.

As others have said I think the majority of "I was cheated" sentiment comes from confirmation bias and the part of human nature that wants an  excuse for failing.

• @Soviut said:

@dtech said:

This did make it very likely what a lot of people already suspected, that the dice rolls are stacked against humans to help the AI (which was pretty decent, but failed miserably against a more-than-casual player). Still a good game though

This could also be in favour of the player, making the computer more prone to losing when it's convenient for the human player, to cause upsets and such.

It's also easier to make the computer win more die rolls than it is to develop a better AI to play the game.  Especially if you want to add several selectable levels of difficultly.

• @Lorne Kates said:

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals.

What if you play against an opponent which is not a real player like you, but is associated with the online poker house? Just consider all those flirt hotlines which promise to connect you to "single girls looking for men", but in fact connect you to a call center where women are paid to act like such girls, just to keep you on the line so you ramp up charges, without ever having a change to get a date with such a woman. On the same principle, you might be playing poker against employees of the poker house who most of the time have better cards than you, but get a small salary instead of the large amounts of money real players lose to them.

• @ammoQ said:

@Lorne Kates said:

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals.

What if you play against an opponent which is not a real player like you, but is associated with the online poker house? Just consider all those flirt hotlines which promise to connect you to "single girls looking for men", but in fact connect you to a call center where women are paid to act like such girls, just to keep you on the line so you ramp up charges, without ever having a change to get a date with such a woman. On the same principle, you might be playing poker against employees of the poker house who most of the time have better cards than you, but get a small salary instead of the large amounts of money real players lose to them.

Close. Those are called "props". SOP for online poker houses to hire players to play. The prop uses his own money, may receive a small salary, but will get her whole rake/entry fee refunded. The goal of the prop is to increase traffic on the tables. Basically, no one wants to play in an empty room. If it's a 10 person table, you're more likely to get 5 paying players to come if there are already 2 people there, than if there were 0.

But the props aren't given any other special powers by the casino. She can't see other people's hands, effect the RNG, or anything else. She gets to play for free, keeps her winnings, and gets a warm fuzzy feeling from welcoming new suckers players to the casino.

• @Lorne Kates said:

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals. They get their fees (entry fee, per hand rake, per hour table time fee, whatever), win, lose or draw. They will earn nothing more from rigging the hands, and stand to lose everything if they are caught.

You don't seem to understand how it actually works. The rake in an online poker room depends on the size of the pot. The bigger the pots the more money the casino makes. So if they deal someone pocket Aces and another player pocket kings in the same hand more frequently than normal they will make more money. Or if they wait until the river to put the pivotal card on the board giving more betting opportunties they make more money. Or if they cause more split pots where both players lose money because they both get back their bets minus the rake the casino makes more money. I am not saying any of the big sites do rig things, but to say there is no incentive ignores some basic math and poker rules.

• I was leaving this out before to see where the discussion went, but seems worth adding now: from what I've heard, almost all bricks and mortar casinos are crooked in one way or another, despite the obvious possible hazards. I would always assume until proven otherwise that an online casino is more, not less crooked, since it's so easy to implement, and, as we've established, possible to do without any chance of being caught.

My experience strongly suggests that there is no such thing as an honest bet on the internet. Whether you go with someone like Betfair, a big bookie like William Hill, or a major online casino, it makes no difference: whether it's the house, or someone else, there is someone betting with more knowledge than you -- or, very occasionally, there is no money to be made either way. Third party run, non-zero-sum games are for mugs, plain and simple.

• @tgray said:

@Lorne Kates said:

First, there is 0 incentive for an online poker house to rig the deals. They get their fees (entry fee, per hand rake, per hour table time fee, whatever), win, lose or draw. They will earn nothing more from rigging the hands, and stand to lose everything if they are caught.

You don't seem to understand how it actually works. The rake in an online poker room depends on the size of the pot. The bigger the pots the more money the casino makes. So if they deal someone pocket Aces and another player pocket kings in the same hand more frequently than normal they will make more money. Or if they wait until the river to put the pivotal card on the board giving more betting opportunties they make more money. Or if they cause more split pots where both players lose money because they both get back their bets minus the rake the casino makes more money. I am not saying any of the big sites do rig things, but to say there is no incentive ignores some basic math and poker rules.

This could certainly be an incentive.  On Full Tilt for example, no rake is taken at Hold 'Em unless a flop is seen. Without knowing the numbers involved* it would be hard to know if it was worthwhile.

*Amount the prop is paid Vs the amount of extra rake they can generate
Amount of extra rake generated by prolonging hands Vs the amount lost due to fewer hands being played
Amount that could be gained Vs amount that could be lost if people feel 'cheated' by the behaviour of props
Also, there is a maximum rake per pot which would need to be taken into consideration

• @OperatorBastardusInfernalis said:

it "accidentally" knows about the 5th card the player has,

Ok, so one person here apparently understands how to cheat at making an online poker game without getting caught.

I would be horribly surprised if I found out that there weren't any successful online poker systems that supposedly didn't cheat, but made buckets of money by inserting computer players into games, with real people monitoring for every few computer players, just to insert real responses to unexpected commentary.  And, of course, this gives them winnings, because the computer players know some or all of what the real players' hands are.  It also looks perfectly legit, because those computer players are listed as real players who are just incredibly good at poker.

In an online gambling game involving any kind of skill, futzing with the random number generation is pure amateur hour: that's what you do if you want to get caught.  Alternatively, it's what you do for your sideline online gambling sites that you set up, run until they're unpopular, and drop, to make your main online gambling site look more legit.

HTH.  HAND.

• Not totally... I do not think the cheating "idea" I presented would NOT be caught. However, if it is caught, it would get fixed, and is plausibly deniable "our coders didn't notice this bug"... of course, as a non poker player, I do not know how much edge just knowing a single card gives, it probably isn't very much. But possibly the one percent you need to profit from cheating.

Personally, this means for me that of such game servers, the code should undergo a thorough audit. Sure, the RNG would be the first, but also the most obvious, place to put a cheat in ("why does the RNG access this state?" in that risk game). I would assume that most underhanded techniques to cheat at a poker game (like the one I showed) require bad coding style (like in my case, using that global array for evaluation, and memcpy-ing in and out the cards of the human, and also the two #defines for the same array size)... and THIS can be easily noticed and should be a clear sign that the site should not be trusted.

Maybe we should go so far, and require a public source code release for any online game of luck? Maybe for computer based slot machines too? Personally, I'd never gamble for money, no matter if the site is FOSS or not.

BTW, is it, for an online poker site, even considered cheating, if there are "computer players" that only look at probabilities of what cards the other may have, plus some influences based on the bets the other took (although THAT could be a bad idea)? Mainly asking, as this is something every player on such a site could do too - tell a little program about the cards he knows about, and then let it evaluate his winning chance, and take bets based on that.

• @intertravel said:

I was leaving this out before to see where the discussion went, but seems worth adding now: from what I've heard, almost all bricks and mortar casinos are crooked in one way or another, despite the obvious possible hazards. I would always assume until proven otherwise that an online casino is more, not less crooked, since it's so easy to implement, and, as we've established, possible to do without any chance of being caught.

They are talking about 'side businesses' like prostitution and 'other' forms of entertainment for the casino guests - most casinos have a "deniable" employee who can "get you whatever you want" if you are a high roller. The gambling is usually fully legit - casino games are unfair to begin with, and the casino doesn't need to cheat to win - players need to cheat to win, and in most casinos you won't find the house cheating anyone. Not only is it illegal, it's completely unnecessary because running a casino is highway robbery to begin with.

• Absolute Poker was busted for cheating a few years ago.

• @Salami said:

Absolute Poker was busted for cheating a few years ago.

It was not a case of the house cheating people though. It was a case of an employee cheating for personal gain. Casinos do watch for this, and I'm surprised Absolute Poker didn't catch the guy - he was basically caught by the users. And, even though it was an employee acting on his own, Absolute Poker has paid heavy penalties for the problem. It is in the best interest of a casino to play fair games and to catch cheaters, especially if they are casino employees. It's easy for the employees to cheat, and they should be under a lot of scrutiny. I was talking more about actual casinos though - many of those ARE involved in side businesses of questionable morality, but none of them are cheating players - they don't need to do that. They are already cheating you the minute you make a bet.

• @tgape said:

I would be horribly surprised if I found out that there weren't any successful online poker systems that supposedly didn't cheat, but made buckets of money by inserting computer players into games, with real people monitoring for every few computer players, just to insert real responses to unexpected commentary.  And, of course, this gives them winnings, because the computer players know some or all of what the real players' hands are.  It also looks perfectly legit, because those computer players are listed as real players who are just incredibly good at poker.

@Salami said:

Absolute Poker was busted for cheating a few years ago.

The Absolute Poker cheating incident stemmed (I believe) from a former employee using an admin style account to view players' hole cards at Texas Hold 'Em.  The scam was uncovered by analysis of the logs from hands played and they were able to determine that cheating had occurred.

Maybe a bot would be better at cheating than a real person, maybe it wouldn't.  In any case it would require a seemingly legitimate site (and I'm talking about the best known and most successful ones here) to employ people whose job was to engage in fraudulent activity - be it developing cheatbots or monitoring/humanising them.  To me that seems a huge risk (blackmail, whistle-blowing) for a successful business to take, especially one that's already raking in millions of dollars.

@Salami said:

Absolute Poker was busted for cheating a few years ago.

The Absolute Poker cheating incident stemmed (I believe) from a former employee using an admin style account to view players' hole cards at Texas Hold 'Em.  The scam was uncovered by analysis of the logs from hands played and they were able to determine that cheating had occurred.

• #### Mon, Mar 21 2011 7:49 PM In reply to

• alegr
• Joined on Thu, Jan 17 2008
• Posts 300

#### Re: Online Poker / Playing Against The Computer

 Obligatory:

• @cdosrun said:

@Salami said:

Absolute Poker was busted for cheating a few years ago.

The Absolute Poker cheating incident stemmed (I believe) from a former employee using an admin style account to view players' hole cards at Texas Hold 'Em.  The scam was uncovered by analysis of the logs from hands played and they were able to determine that cheating had occurred.

• #### Mon, Mar 21 2011 7:49 PM In reply to

• alegr
• Joined on Thu, Jan 17 2008
• Posts 300

#### Re: Online Poker / Playing Against The Computer

 Obligatory:
•

Do people here think that there will always be an element of doubt (or paranoia) when playing computer controlled games of chance?

To answer the last question, YES people will ALWAYS haven the element of doubt. ALWAYS.

MOST people don't understand odds. Probability is a difficult concept and not intuitive for most people (just look at the amount of debate the Monty Hall problem has caused.)

About poker in general, what most people don't understand is that there aren't THAT many starting hands. 1326. Online poker is played fairly quickly, and many people play several tables at once. You will see a LOT of the possible starting hands. While the number of permutations is large, it really isn't astronomical. By playing more hands than you normally play in a casino you will see a lot of "odd" hands. KKs beat AAs 20% of the time. When you see AA vs KK a dozen times, a couple of them should be KKs beating AAs but people don't remember the times KK lost (or got mucked maybe) They just remember the 3 times KK beats AA.

Pretty much every ODD thing I've seen at a poker site I've also seen in a live poker room. Sure maybe the dealer didn't shuffle the cards as well as he could have, but I wouldn't say the dealer was cheating.

As for the sites to cheat, they would be idiotic to do that. They amount of money they make IS astronomical. IF anyone ever discovered the site was cheating, they would lose most of that income. It is in their best interest to NOT cheat. Someone have argued the rake being higher. Well the rake is typically capped, and will hit that cap fairly quickly. Its been a while since I've played but the rake used to be %10 or \$2. In a \$1/\$2 game It only takes one raise and one caller to hit \$20. You usually max the rake out before the flop. Limit games can take a bit longer. But when a site is playing several thousands tables at a time I don't think they really care to make that extra \$.50 a hand. It isn't worth losing their whole business over.

What are the odds that someone at the table gets AA? Its about 1/20 (assuming 10 players) What are the odds that someone gets KK? 1/20. So 1/400 times someone gets AA vs KK. Now if the site is running several thousand tables a minute. That means there are a handful of tables that have AA/KK.

Are sites rigged? I seriously doubt it. It would be easy to figure it out. And they would lose money. Have employees at sites cheated? Yes, by "knowing" their opponents cards. Can YOU cheat. Sure you and a buddy or two can collude. But you can still be beaten.

The thing to remember is a casino always makes money. They make more money if they have more players. It is in their best interest to play fair and keep more players.

• @jasmine2501 said:

I was talking more about actual casinos though - [...] none of them are cheating players - they don't need to do that. They are already cheating you the minute you make a bet.

I don't think that really holds up under closer scrutiny. By the time you're making a bet, they've already spent money to get you through the door. They have to make it back, as well as the cost of keeping you there, before they show a profit.

It's actually quite expensive to run a successful casino, so even with the house edge, margins are relatively small - because if they're not, someone will open up a new casino with the same house edge, but spending more on marketing and freebies (or subsidised drinks, better entertainment, and so-on), or they'll have the same set-up, but a lower edge. If you offer 97.5% payout ratio and the guy down the road offers 98%, many more people will go to his casino than yours. He has an incentive to advertise one pay-out ratio, whilst rigging the games to have a lower one.

Contrary to popular belief, once you factor in start-up risk and return on capital investment, casinos aren't generally particularly profitable. (That varies in some jurisdictions where licenses for casinos are very limited, but in that case the license has to be considered a capital item.)

• @jasmine2501 said:

I was talking more about actual casinos though - many of those ARE involved in side businesses of questionable morality, but none of them are cheating players - they don't need to do that. They are already cheating you the minute you make a bet.
QFT.

It's the same, it would be ridiculous to suspect Wall-Mart (or whatever name your supermarkets have) to hire thieves to steal money directly in the customer's pockets... their very activity is an extended and much more efficient way to do the same.

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