Here at NoPayPOKER as you know we’re all about free online poker, you the players don’t deposit any money and there is no risk of loss (apart from your time and maybe sanity 😉 However when real money gets involved the water gets a lot more muddy and countless debates have occurred discussing whether or not the internet game is as fair as playing in a live setting. Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Over the years, public opinion has varied greatly about the integrity of online poker. Conspiracy theories have include the ‘cash-out curse’ to pot-juicing by individual poker sites to create action and generate more rake. Some players believe that if they count to ten before going all-in they’re less likely to lose.
Most of the live grinders at the Vic card room in London believe that only spies, crooks and the mentally unhinged actually play poker online for money…is this fair?
In reality, online poker is facing tough times. Black Friday and the ongoing saga surrounding Full Tilt Poker have thrown the game of online poker into disrepute. For a company of such stature to fall from grace so dramatically was almost inconceivable, yet it happened and the skeptics’ knives are out.
For most online poker players, bad beats and downswings are part of the game. The ‘rigged’ theory is simply a by-product of variance.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the doubters though, as one site is attempting to answer the age old debate.
The team at Online Poker Watchdog has run a series of tests over millions of hands at leading online poker sites to determine whether there is statistical proof of ‘rigging’ or unfair practice. The website claims to be an independent statistical auditor, solely focused on maximizing the integrity of the game.
PokerStars, PartyPoker and the OnGame network are the three poker operators surveyed so far.
The investigation consisted of two tests and was fairly straightforward and similar in all three cases.
1) Firstly, over a million hands were uploaded into a database and were compared by expected number of hands won in comparison with the actual number of hands that won.
2) The second test segregated hands that were ahead pre-flop and hands that were behind pre-flop and a comparison was executed.
PokerStars analysis focused on a sample of 1 million downloaded hands and 69,663 pre-flop all-ins from Sit n Go tournaments. Actual expectation would suggest that 35,748 of these hands would win. In reality, 35,850 of these hands won, meaning an actual deviation of +102. For those of you without a degree in mathematics, this is very close to normal. When comparing pre-flop all-ins when ahead and behind, the statistics again proved to be close to normal.
PartyPoker research looked at a sample of 1.26 million hands, breaking down 11,984 hands from $50NL full ring cash game tables.
- Actual expectation predicted that 6,267 of these hands would win.
- In reality, 6,198.5 hands won, meaning an actual deviation of -68.
- A pre-flop all-in comparison again proved to be very close to normal.
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OnGame’s investigation studied a sample of 1.42 million hands, looking at 12,306 hands from $30NL short handed cash game tables. Actual expectation assumed that 6,457 would win. In reality, 6,454.5 hands won leaving an actual deviation of -2.5. The pre-flop all-in comparison unsurprisingly proved to be close to normal.
The stats from Online Poker Watchdog are clinical to say the least.
All three operators show no signs of foul play in their respective analysis.
While most players will have never really believed that the online game was rigged in any way, hopefully these stats go some way to proving it.
While the legal situation regarding online poker may be unclear in some countries, it’s warming news to see that game integrity at the big operators is intact and well.
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