Phil Galfond Explains Why Online Poker Isn't Rigged
This week’s Twittertainment sees Phil Galfond offer a logical dose of reality for those who still think online poker is rigged.
Anyone who’s used a top-rated online poker site will have invariably seen someone say that a random number generator (RNG) is rigged or that cheats always win. Why do people think online poker is rigged? It’s usually because they’ve lost a big pot or had their aces cracked by 7-2 offsuit
The reality is that all licensed online poker sites are safe, secure, and offer fair games. It doesn’t matter if it’s a popular poker site in New Jersey, one licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, or an app in Canada, they’re all legit.
Unfortunately, people on tilt don’t like to let facts get in the way of a good story. Fortunately, we have Phil Galfond to remind people of the truth. He posted a series of tweets recently explaining why major poker sites aren’t in the business of running crooked games.
Phil Galfond Talks Sense (Again)
As is often the case when one of poker’s most respected pros speaks, people listen. The thread (see tweet below) has since been quoted, commented on, and retweeted hundreds of times.
Major poker sites are not dumb enough to rig their software for more action.— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) February 19, 2023
But there are some "conspiracy theorists" that think so...
Here's what they don't understand: ⬇️
Overall, most people agree with Galfond. In fact, unlike many of the viral poker tweets we cover, there aren’t any controversial opinions to analyze.
The thread is still interesting, though, because it provides a breakdown of how and why online poker sites offer fair games from industry experts.
Experts Explain Inner Workings of Online Poker
Galfond knows better than most that games are fair because he owned an online poker site. As such, he’s worked with developers, regulators, and testing agencies to ensure every card dealt is randomly selected by advanced algorithms.
Michael Kopjanski wanted to delve into the nuances of testing and how RNGs are assessed.
“Phil, my only question to you as a former operator, is how is the RNG tested? Is the RNG tested vs. the entire playerpool to show fairness or is each account tested for fairness,” Kopjanski tweeted.
Kopjanski hypothesized that, even if the RNG is certified as fair, certain accounts could be subject to unfair treatment.
“It could be that the RNG is tested as fair but discriminates vs. some portion of the playerpool to create fairness for the whole site. For example, AA vs. KK wins 80% overall, but for Player A it wins 90% of the time and for Player B it wins 70%. The RNG tests could still class this as balanced,” he continued.
Galfond didn’t answer, but David Jewel did. The CEO of mobile poker app JokerStars has been directly involved in creating and testing games. He said that tests are conducted randomly and all software is checked against statistical norms.
I can tell you the software I work with can be randomly tested whenever and checked against statistical norms up to 10M shuffles for randomness and using player counts from 2-10 handed against what normal outcomes should be. It’s always well within a minimal Standard Dev.— JokerStars Poker CEO (@Jokerstars_CEO) February 20, 2023
Evidence is Everywhere: Online Poker is Fair
Online poker pro turned streamer, Jorbs, also pointed out that people have plenty of data to analyze. When he was playing full-time, an opponent of his had a database of 35 million hands that could be checked at any point. If anything was off, a review of the hand distributions and showdown stats would quickly reveal if the RNG was rigged.
I remember in 2011 I was playing a table full of regs. One of them mentioned that they had a sum 35 millions hands that the nine of us had played in their personal database. When people are privy to that much data, it’s pretty easy to check whether the rng is rigged or not.— jorbs (@JoINrbs) February 20, 2023
Of course, there were some facetious comments. It’s Twitter, after all. However, for once, it’s nice to see an informed discussion on a social media platform.
Ive lost with AA and KK 78 out of the last 81 times . Explain that— Jimmy C (@edwards19073) February 20, 2023
Anyone who looks at the laws governing online poker, casino, and sports betting sites will know that rigging the system is almost impossible.
And, even if there are ways to do it, operators aren’t going to jeopardize their licenses to make a few extra dollars.
Finally, if online poker sites are rigged, who decides which players are screwed over and which ones get to win all the time? Even a simple question like this blows apart the argument that online poker sites cheat players out of pots.
Going on tilt and reacting emotionally causes people to say all sorts of things. When you’re riled up, the natural variance of poker can make it seem like a higher force is out to get you. However, when you step back, assess the situation, and listen to people like Phil Galfond, you’ll soon remember that online poker is a fair game.
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