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Is Online Poker Rigged ?:

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Is Online Poker Rigged or not ? (Part 2)

Rigged poker : hypothesis and observations

From now on, we have an explanation on the origin of bad beats. We can't prove it, but it is plausible. But there's one question :

We found that bad beats could be explained by logical, statistical reasons. So why would we want to consider bad beats as the result of the online poker rooms being rigged?

The main reason to believe in the theory of online poker being rigged is that some bad beats tend to follow a pattern, which has no statistical reason to exist.

Some things just don't look right, because there is no rational explanation to it. Things just look like they shouldn't be happening and can't be the result of pure randomness.

Cashout downswing

One thing witnessed by many players who believe in rooms being rigged, is the sudden raise in badbeats frequency, the appearance of a sudden downswing, immediately following a cashout.

There is very few plausible explanation to the fact a person who just took back his bankroll suddenly becomes the victim of an unbelievable bad luck, when everything was going okay the day before. And there is no mathematical explanation either.

We could consider a few psychological factors : we could consider the cashout to create a small, unconscious "tilt", a subtle modification in the way the player plays and takes risk... but this is too has to be proven.

Moreover, several testimonies from different people certify that the downswing only happen in the one room where the player cashed out, whereas there is no such problem on the other poker rooms he has subscribed to.

Thus, players playing in several rooms sometimes observe a normal success rate in every room they play in, except the one for which they cashed out.

One can't deny such testimonies raise questions...

One can't deny it, especially since there is an easy motive to this: this could be a "punishment" for cashing out, or a way to try to "rob" the money left in the player bankroll before he cashes out everything.

Odd findings (1)...

I myself sometimes witnessed surprising things happening in poker rooms...

I remember witnessing, for example, in specific freerolls, a repeating pattern with no statistical law to back it.

These patterns happened on PartyPoker.fr (PartyPoker for the french market), in free qualifiers for a 100K Guaranteed tournament. In these qualifiers, and only in these qualifiers, I often saw, several evenings in a row, the same pattern:

Each time, about at the half of the tournament, one player (a different one each evening) with a nice stack (but nothing gigantic) would start getting all-in preflop at EACH hand. And I do mean each hand.

No fold, no check, no call, no raise that wouldn't be all-in. Never. All-in every time.

And each time anyone would call, the aforementioned player would won any draw, even with the weakest hands.

That guy could just raise all-in perflop with 52s against AJs : he would get a straight. 82o against AKo : three of a kind 8. 22 against KK : three of a kind 2 (if not a flush)... every time !

Each evening, one different player would systematically raise all-in for at least five dozens of hands, be followed for maybe seven or eight hands, show very weak cards, and yet, he would win all-in for ALL of these 7-8 hands. Not ONE failure, even with the weakest cards.

What's the probability of someone raising all-in EACH time not to lose a single one after 50 hands? What's the probability of winning 7 or 8 draws in a row with weak hands against strong hands?

These kind of patterns defy any statistical law.

Either this player has an incredible luck, or there's something fishy about that (no pun intended).

And when this situation happen several evenings in a row, with different players, always in the same tournaments, with always the same pattern, at about the same blind levels each night... one can't help wondering what's going on!

Worth noting is that none of these "lucky players" ended qualified for the 100K tournament. Typically, there would be 800 players at the beginning of the freeroll, they would start going nuts when there was 150-200 players left, they would multiply their stack by an order of magnitude, take out maybe 15 players, then, they would stop laying this way, and finally, they would lose when only 30 to 50 players left (only the 10 last players standing being qualified).

So one hypothesis would be that these players aren't here to win, but here to take out some players that the room wants out.

Another hypothesis would be that all of this is the sole result of randomness. This hypothesis can't be left aside for sure. Still, there is a reasonable ground for being doubtful about what's going on.

Odd findings (2)...

Another odd finding is that many people - including myself - witnessed an upswing just after registering to a poker room, followed by a period in which one would lose anything won before, and possibly even more if nothing's done to prevent it.

I myself witnessed such an upswing in several rooms: Cake Poker, PokerStars.com, PartyPoker.com, PartyPoker.fr... this scenario unfolds EACH time : my bankroll starts going up, quite easily actually, and then suddenly it starts going down as fast as it grew up.

For example, when playing at PartyPoker.fr, I went from 40€ to 60€ in a few days... and then went back to 30€ in a few more days, with an impressing row of bad beats. Then I managed to get back to 40€. Then, whatever I'd try, I couldn't get more than 45€, and would hardly get under 35€. The few freerolls available would just be sufficient for me to stay break even. And any winning would be followed by an immediate proportionnal loss.

This is my case, but I'm not alone and many players felt the same way. This is a very common complaint from poker players, which even has a name : people call it "cashin upswing". Many players theorized long ago that making a deposit would, for a limited time, improve the winning probabilities, more or less like a mirror of the cashout downswing.

For the room, the advantage to this is that when a player starts his career by being a winning player, he will get addicted much faster and much easier.

There are many economical benefits to that:

  • A break-even player produces alot of rake.
  • A player who starts with an upswing will overestimate himself and think he's a good player, possibly a winning one, that "he can do it" : so he'll keep playing. At least until he's broke, and probably even after by cashing in again (after all, he won some money at some point, so he can probably win some more, right?). Which means, once again, a lot of rake for the room!
  • A player who doesn't really win but stays break-even or slightly losing won't dare cashing out: he hopes to win "a little something" before he cashes out. To many players, admitting they spent dozens of hours of play and produced dozens of dollars of rake for absolutely nothing is too hard a thought. They can't stop right here and cash out.
  • A cashin upswing will easily make addicted players. This is a common phenomenon that any behavioral psychologist knows about: if a behaviour has positive results, the person will display this behavior even more. The earlier the positive result, the more the behavior is reinforced. We all know about that. What you may not know, is that if a given behavior has positive results first, and THEN starts throwing negatives one, the person will continue displaying this behavior for way longer than if the behavior immediately gives negative responses. Any behavioral psychologist knows about all this, especially when they mainly work in the field of addiction, and even more in the field of gambling addiction. Any addiction therapist will tell you that most people addicted to gambling and casinos first won a few thousands dollars when they started playing, before losing everything and going bankrupt.
    It may very well work the same for Poker.
  • Eventually, at one time or another, rake - or tilt - will finally empty the player's bankroll, and one more player will finally have given most if not all of his initial bankroll to the room.

Once again, there is no proof. But this is a plausible hypothesis.

A list of potential benefits is only a list of potential benefits. We can't tell for sure.

But one must know that if a romm decided to do things this way, they would have much to win by doing so.

Random Room

Celeb Poker is a well-known Poker Room, although its level of riggism remains unknown. We have seen very little bad comments on this one room, but very little evidence of it being completely clear too, although the official sites does say that it's "fully licensed and regulated", but we'd still like to get some more information.

Whether...