Online poker IS fair (long)

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crash7

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Here’s a fun game. Take a deck of cards and deal out a regular hand of hold’em for a 9 player table face up. Judging pre flop look at all the hands. Make your pick take a chip and place it on the hand you think is going to win at showdown. In fact make two bets on the two hands you think are probably going to win. Deal out the flop turn and river, don’t forget to burn those cards to make sure you’re not cheating. How’d you do? Do this to your heart’s content. Do it 200 times if you really want to see some convincing data. I’d be willing to bet you were wrong more than half the time. That’s probably an understatement too. In case you’re a lazy individual I’ll give a random hand that I dealt and you can follow along with me.


3s8h, KsQh, 2h3d, 4c7s, 5s3c, 8c7d, AcAd, 10s6s, Jh9c

Okay, so make your picks. Now I’m going to cheat and use a poker odds calculator, which suggests that AA is the favorite to win the hand. Pre-flop AA is a 26.499% favorite. Okay let’s deal out the board…

4d 9h 10d

Okay who has a piece of it? Our 4 7 caught bottom pair and has 5 outs to improve. J 9 hit middle pair with 5 outs to improve. 7 8 flopped an up and down straight draw for 8 outs to improve. 10 6 hit top pair for 5 outs to improve. AA, our pick is still ahead with top pair and 2 outs to improve. Looking good for AA right?

Notice that with a flop as seemingly non-dangerous as this how many players actually caught a piece of it. 5 out of 9 players in this hand have at least got a sniff of something on the flop. That could make for a pretty juicy pot with a lot of action don’t you think? All right let’s see the turn…

4d 9h 10d Kh

Okay now we’ve got some things developing. We still have the previous 5 players interested in the hand but now we got someone else’s interest. K Q just pulled top pair with a decent kicker and an inside straight draw to boot. And now the J 9 has improved their chances buy picking up an inside straight draw as well. What do we care? We picked AA and we’re still the winner. This is going to be a very juicy pot and we simply can’t wait to take it down… Let’s see that river!!

4d 9h 10d Kh 4h

Wow! Who saw that coming!? That 4 7 winds up pulling a miracle 4 on the river for the big win. We were so close! Looks like we weren’t able to see into the future this time around and our AA just didn’t cut it. Just for grins lets use that calculator again on the turn to see where the AA really stood. 36.667% favorite to win the hand. So with all those cards out and against all those opponents AA only improved a whopping 10%. And from the looks of it AA, although technically the favorite to win here, is actually almost 60% to lose simply because of the combined drawing power of the other 5 hands that caught something. Kind of a sobering thought no?

Okay, okay, very clever Crash. You got me good on this one. Sorry but it’s true. This is not a scripted hand and simply a hand I dealt out on my desk right before my own eyes. If you don’t think stuff like this happens then I suggest you do like those other guys did at the beginning and deal out 200 hands yourself. You WILL see some strange things. This hand was in no way rigged and it even fooled the calculator that I used to make my prediction. Ok, fine I’ll keep all the same hole cards, shuffle, and re-deal the board.

4d Jd 10c 2s 6c

Well, I’ll be damned. The AA doesn’t come through once again. Who was likely to play this hand on the flop? J 9 hit top pair, 6 10 caught middle pair, 4 7 caught bottom pair again, 7 8 got themselves an inside straight draw, Q K flopped an outside straight draw, and AA currently holds top pair. That’s 6 of the 9 players that caught a piece this time! This is a very dangerous flop and surely would create an extremely juiced pot. On top of that the turn pulls in 3 5 for an open-ended straight draw, and gives 2 3 bottom pair. So now you have all but 1 of the players involved in the hand. Now the river is a killer. Imagine what each player must be thinking. J 9 holds top pair. 6 10 holds two pair. AA still has top pair. 3 5 has miraculously pulled out the nut straight. 4 7 has next to bottom pair. 2 3 has bottom pair. With a board like this it would be easy for a few of these hands to go bust here. Seems almost set up the way those cards came out right? It’s almost as if it was rigged… Yeah, now you’re beginning to see where this is going. In fact I would be willing to bet that you could trust the calculation of the AA and say that if you keep re-dealing that board with those hands that AA would in fact win 1/3 of the time. That means however that I also expect it to lose 2/3 of the time to one of the other hands. Don’t take my word for it, deal out a few yourself.

Okay so what’s the point of all this? Think about what you would consider playing. Would you ever play a KQ? AA? 10 6 suited when there are good pot odds? 7 8 when there are good drawing odds? How about even some looser play like with a J9 or 4 7? Now think of even weaker players than you. Think of that one guy who will try to see a flop with any 2 cards he’s dealt. Or the guy who just loves to play loose for big reckless and juicy pots. How many of those earlier hands could you imagine a poor player playing? Maybe all of them given the right day and direction of the breeze?

Where can you usually find a full table of inexperienced and weak players that could potentially play any of these hands? If you guessed micro stakes online you are dead on. online poker is a casino in every household. Grandma can play any time of day she likes without having to be intimidated by the brick and mortar scene. Your screwball nephew in high school age 18 can get in there and play with his lunch money too. Online poker is convenient and easy for all players to access and get in on all the dramatic action and excitement. Out of the millions of poker players only about 10% of them are break-even poker players. They win about as much as they lose, just good enough to enjoy the game as entertainment for a long time. 5% of all players are winning players. Now 5% of millions is still a lot of players so there are a ton of household names to idolize and even more you’ve probably never even heard of. 90% of these millions however are the people you never hear about. These are the losers. These are the players that keep the top 5% coming back. The fact of the matter is that a majority of online poker players never get to experience anything other than micro stakes games. Many dream of the high stakes poker games with Doyle Brunson on their left and Phil Ivey on their right playing for $8,000.00 blinds. Most people are caught in the wild jungle of micro stakes poker from penny games all the way up to 1$/2$ games. The reason these players are often times so weak is because its so convenient and easily accessed by them. Many people can work a shift at McDonald’s or even save change from their couch and afford to play a few games for a hundred bucks or so. Not many people have $25,000 necessary to bankroll playing $10/$20 blinds just lying around. So why don’t you see these people live as much? A lot of people are too lazy to travel to the nearest casino. In a casino you will find a lot of tourists and lousy players but you’re missing all the thousands of players that would sit down if they lived near by. If you flooded a live casino with the enormous number of novice players that are hopping online to your favorite site you would see a drastic change in live play. You would start hearing complaints that the house is rigging the deck or that the casino is full of card mechanics dealing off the bottom of the deck. The answers to this strange phenomenon are not in the cards or the host of the game but in your opponents and their psychologies.

Players do strange things when under pressure. Sometimes they make the right decision but a lot of times they make the wrong ones. A player could try an outrageous cold bluff at the wrong time and pull a straight out of nowhere. A player could just be on tilt or so stubborn they cant fold bottom pair and end up catching a set. Some players don’t even believe in the mathematics of probability and will play anything to the end because poker isn’t about skill its just a game of luck right? Some players are defiant and like to call bluffs or go out of their way to put a bad beat on someone. The thing is that poker-playing styles are almost as different as the people the play the game. Bad beats are simply a result of either very unfortunate timing or someone making a very poor decision. Poor decisions come from weaker players that lack the discipline to make the correct plays. This is how the better players get PAID. You need your opponent to make mistakes or you will never bust them or never take a pot off them. You would have to wait till you both flopped full houses and you had the better of the two otherwise. The thing is if you surround yourself with enough players all making bad decisions then you greatly increase the odds of taking a bad beat. Notice that in the previous examples it wasn’t just 2 players that had hands worth playing after they saw a flop. There were 5-6 players that may have seen enough to keep them in the hand. Maybe you can bet some of them out with your AA but how do you know which ones will fold and which will call? Chances are 60% against you that at least one of those guys is going to have a winning hand at the river. Sure 1 on 1 your AA may mathematically have huge dominance but your can’t think about it that way. It’s your AA vs the COMBINED drawing power of everyone involved in the hand. Any one of them has potential to win. If one of these hands didn’t win even a small % of the time it would DEFY the laws of probability. It isn’t about the play being rigged or set up in a crazy scheme to juice pots and make money. It’s simply the laws of probability and mathematics. You show me a rigged hand online and I’ll show you 4 players from my home game that would play those cards exactly the same way in a live game with the same exact results. I could even explain their thinking process behind it and what actually made them play that stupid 4 7 or 3 5 to out draw your AA.

If you take a look at higher stakes games online where tables are jammed packed with weak players you will see less and less of these “set up” hands. You’ll still see bad beats because like it or not those have to happen in order for the mathematical odds of probability to exist. Besides no player can make 100% perfect decisions all the time. Sometimes they make a bad bluff and come up lucky. Sometimes they make a bad read and call with similar results. Sometimes they check where they should have raised, or they bet $200 where they should have bet $400. No poker play has a right or wrong solution. The only answer is that it depends. It always depends. There are thousands of things to consider when making a play and we usually only have time to consider 50 of them if we’re really good. It’s all about trying to figure out what your opponent has and what they’re going to do with it. From there it’s up to you to decide the best possible action to influence the hand and player in a favorable way. It’s important to know whether or not you can get your opponent to fold when they are drawing. When your opponent is drawing you don’t bet because you have the best hand and you’re thus guaranteed or deserve to win. You bet to make them fold and take the pot or worse case scenario they risk it and you hope they miss because you know whatever card comes up could be your last.

So the next time you think you got set up or that an online site is getting the best of you remember my little game. Any two cards can win. Nobody is invincible and if the right cards are played be it the, right play or wrong, at the right time can inevitably win. This doesn’t mean that poker is a complete crapshoot because only YOU can decide whether or not you want to lose. You may not be able to pick every time you want to win but you sure as hell can make sure whether or not you’re going to go bust. THAT is the key to poker being a skill game. Only in a game of skill can you selectively ensure your loss. You can’t put a coin in a slot machine and know with 100% certainty that you will lose that coin. No more than you can know with 100% certainty that your lottery ticket or bingo card is not the winner. In poker however, you will have the skills of observation and understanding of mathematics to know exactly when you are beaten and will lose with 100% certainty. There are also hands that you know cannot be beaten for example when you pull Kings full of Queens and through skillful observation you know your opponent cannot have QQ for quads or a straight flush. Poker is a game of skill and chance. Most players just lack the ability to read their opponents or understand the right times to hold or fold a hand. This is an advanced skill that some people just aren’t capable of mastering. This is a more natural ability than something that can be simply picked up in a book and is necessary in being a successful winning poker player. That is why only about 5% of poker players are winners.

So please do everyone a favor and go easy on the online sites for being “rigged.”
 
hott_estelle

hott_estelle

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Huh?

Sorry read the first word, then realized it was an essay.
 
smd173

smd173

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crash,
You are computing the odds of AA holding up against an entire table all the way down to the river. As you mention yourself, there is a wide variety of talent and people's thought process that goes into a decision of whether to call, fold, or raise. It's not very likely that 5-6 of those people will be in the hand vs. AA. And people who allow that to occur are the same people usually playing the 53o later on.

The real bottom line here is that you have to do a myriad of things at the table in order to be successful. And even when you do those, there are no guarantees that you will win. The key is to do it over and over again, and long term you can be in that top 5%.
 
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crash7

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Stated perfectly my friend. It is a game that needs to be played long term and with propper bankroll control to eliminate the varience factor.

I was merely making a point that at the micro level games you are more apt to run into that guy that is willing to play the 47 or the 53 to the river.

6 of these players may not be in the hand with you. But at these low wreckless stakes where even the most skillful play cant keep some of these players at bay youre more apt to take a beat like this. Even if you give your opponent 1:1 on their money and their draw requires 20:1 odds if they make the call there is nothing you can do. And when you cant stop a player from seeing cards you just dont know which of them is going to hit. The guy that's gonna hit just might be the guy that calls you. Sometimes there are a couple guys that will hit but maybe only one of them calls you. The point is that once someone decides they want to see all the cards anything can happen. Unless they are drawing dead they will ALWAYS have a chance, and you could be the one stuck in the pot when it happens.

Thats not rigged or set up. Thats just poker.
 
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ellisman7

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very interesting piece of writing dude.
 
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haystack

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you are right on and unfortunatly thats how most of these donks play they don't figure out anything just play and get lucky
 
Boltneck

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Well, that was perhaps not the most concise post that I've ever read, and with a bit of though I guess a few holes could be picked in it. However, I have to say that it was one of the best thought out that I've read on the subject, and deserves to silence the "rigged" theorists".

Of course, it will not silence them (and who am I to say they should be silenced) because they have this idea entrenched in their mind and no amount of logical argument could ever change it.

Nice post.

Boltneck
 
Chevren

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If you flooded a live casino with the enormous number of novice players that are hopping online to your favorite site you would see a drastic change in live play.

The casinos near where I live have already been flooded I would say the average play live is about on par if not worse then the 10max tables on full tilt. That is half the reason I dont understand all these "Online Poker" is rigged threads I have to assume most of these players dont often if ever play b&m.
 
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LOCDOGZ8788

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there is no real way to tell what is gonna hit and what is not..,so if u you have a decent hand it is not a good idea to limp in or check on a blind. this is how u let people suckout on u... believe me i have had it happen one to many times! lol
 
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scragbag

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Is there anyway this can actually get a sticky! I have once done this myself though, I take AA, KK, QQ, JJ then deal out a hand, you certainly finds ome very interesting things out.
 
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TheSkeptic

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I'm sorry but I find the comparison of the "fun game" with the actual game of poker to be pretty ludicrous. Not sure how or why you are trying to justify how that disparity disproves site rigging.

Poker is not a game of 9 hands all in pre flop and down to showdown.

So, if you want to seriously replicate using real cards here's the "fun game" you need to perform.

Deal the 9 hands, and now pick the top 3 hands that you would personally like to play and see to the showdown. Discard all the other 6 hands.
Now deal the community cards and see which hand of those 3 you chose actually wins the most often. For example did your high pair AA, KK, QQ consistently beat the A5s flush draws? Did your A5s flush draws beat Axo more often etc etc.

I have no doubts you will see true statistical results coming out over a significant number of hands. What you won't see are the miracle rivers or runner, runners, or Nut Flush beaten by Full House. Okay you might just see one or two but thats it. They will be rare occurances. I would also bet that if you dealt yourself 200 hands you wouldn't see one 4 of a kind or 1 royal flush amongst them.

In online poker however, the complete opposite is true. You'll see hundreds of stupid magic rivers, and runner, runner miracles and Nut Flushes beaten by Full Houses WHEN THERE ARE ONLY 2 or 3 PEOPLE IN THE HAND. You will also see loads of 4 of a kinds appearing.

There is no question that the hands are creatively dealt in online poker as with all online games.

I have never ever played online Bingo nor played at any bricks and mortar Bingo venue (like Gala etc). But I know that if I were to play online Bingo I would get a few wins here and there, just enough to keep me excited and hooked into depositing more and more money. Overall I would lose. It's the same overall strategy just a different presentation. Online poker is just an online Slot Machine. You put your money in, pull the handle and hope for the best. You'll get some wins and some losses but overall you have to keep putting more money in to keep playing.

In my lifetime of poker I should only see certain hands and situations extremely rarely. Actually I only started online poker in Sept this year but already I've seen a complete community board come out a Royal Flush and numberous 4 of a kinds, and numerous hands where 3-4 people have really strong hole cards and the flop-turn delivers them ALL a little something.
In total I've played about 10,000-15,000 hands.
What are the chances of dealing 5 cards from a deck of cards after the 9 pairs of hole cards, and coming up with a royal flush !!!!

To get First Ace is 4 chances in 52 = 1 in 13 (in stats terms the hidden hole cards don't factor hence 1 in 52 not 1 in 34)
the K is then 1 chance in 51
Q is 1 in 50
J is 1 in 49
10 is 1 in 48
(ignoring burn cards)

so multiply all those odds together and you get 1 in 6364800

Yep that's right I should see this happen once in every 6.3 million hands !!

Gee I only started in Sept and I've only played 10-15K hands. WOW I must be Sooooo lucky, in fact surely I'll win the lottery this week then !! Or maybe we can simply conclude that the whole concept of online poker is one big rigged scam !


But wait I hear you cry. The poker site probably did deal out a few million hands that week. So someone is going to see a Royal Flush on the board and why shouldn't that be you ?

I guess the answer is that I'm not the only person crying foul play, there are hundreds if not thousands of people seeing similar astronomically unlikley events occuring ALL THE TIME. Equally, the straight odds don't usually refect the reality of how an event comes out. So although a roulette wheel has 36/37 numbers on it and statistics say that we should
see number 7 come out ayt least once every 37 spins, in reality we might sit through 200 spins before it actually did come out because random events are like that. So my 1 in 6.3 million community board flush is probably going to be more like 1 in 60 million.

Now if you want a really FUN GAME then deal yourself 9 sets of hole cards and the community board and see if you can land a royal flush on the board itself. I suspect you will be quite old and grey before you manage it and that you will instinctively no it's a total waste of time trying to do it.

You need ALL THE HAND HISTORIES from a poker site to show that these astronomical events are happening all the time but you'll never get access to them. However, instinctively most people can tell that many non-random events are occurring very frequently. Other people are Fox Mulders and just "Want to Believe" because they can't bear to be in a world where real online poker doesn't exist. They want to play, they want to make money. In many ways I share those sentiments. I want a fair gamble. I'd love to have a day at the racecourse and know that I have a fair horse bet. Reality is different though. Stable owners are laying bets against their own horses (illegally of course). They are betting themselves that their own horses will not win. Then they are in collusion with their jockeys to make sure they don't win. gambling is crooked - period. Online poker does not exist. All that exists is a game of controlled chance presented as a poker game. A blind man on a wooden horse can see the truth of that ! :)
 
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zachvac

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What's with people bumping year-old threads?
 
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