How do Online Poker Sites Shuffle Cards?


When it comes to online poker, the most important thing is that the site you are using is fair and square. That’s why most poker players carry out extensive research on poker sites before using them. In this article, we’ll be telling you all you need to know about online poker, how they are shuffling cards, and whether they are rigged or not.

Online poker sites generally tend to make the card shuffling process similar to live poker. There are sites that use a fixed deck that is only shuffled once. Some sites instead shuffle cards before each hand is dealt. The aim is to randomize the cards and make the game fair.

A quick google search using the keywords ‘Is online poker rigged?’ will yield a lot of search results. You’ll discover many discussions on Reddit and other similar forums. Some people claim online poker is rigged and are ready to provide proof to support their theory. Others say online poker is safe and will bombard you with their own proof too should you ask for it.

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed and confused about who to believe. So, in the next few paragraphs, we’ll be providing you with a definite and unbiased answer.

Licensed RNG shuffling cards online.
Online Poker sites give their RNG to independent organizations where it is tested, if it passes it is given accreditation to be truly random. These tests are usually done in highly regulated countries. This ensures that cards are truly shuffled randomly.

Is Online Poker Truly Random?

The short answer? Yes, online poker is truly random and this is due to the Random Number Generator (RNG).

The RNG is used in almost every form of online gambling – poker, slots, virtual sports, and anything else you can think of.

In fact, RNG can be considered as one of the most important components of online gaming.

Online Poker Random Number Generator

RNG is essentially an algorithm or software that ensures that shuffling is random. This means all cards that will be dealt out of the virtual deck will also be random and completely independent of any factor like players’ bankroll, the number of chips or cards dealt.

The mathematical formulas used in the algorithm of the RNGs constantly transfer numbers. And this means they never stop running. The result of this is that it’s totally impossible for the algorithm to produce a predetermined winning hand. You win only by the luck of the draw, the same thing that happens in live poker.

Another benefit of RNGs is that it’s impossible to hack. A hacker can’t recognize a pattern. It’s all random! So stop being a doubting Thomas, pal. Online poker is as random as anything can be.

Is Online Poker Rigged Or Safe?

It’s important to consider the fact that online poker may truly be rigged and that in fact, players’ concerns are justified. It is after doing this that the truth about whether online poker is rigged can be ascertained. And this is exactly what we did before coming up with an answer.

The truth is that RNGs alone make it super difficult for poker sites to cheat. Everything is random, the cards come randomly. You see, if a poker site actually messes with the RNG, there’s going to be huge discrepancies in the expected frequencies versus what actually occurs on the tables. Now you may be thinking that no one is going to notice. Believe us, you’ll be surprised.

There are thousands of poker players around the world that keep detailed information about poker sites in a various poker tracking software.

These players maintain an in-depth database that will quickly point out the discrepancies discussed above.

Video: How does PokerStars shuffle the deck?

It doesn’t matter how small the discrepancies are. All there need to be is the existence of these discrepancies in the first place and a huge scandal will erupt like a raging volcano. Do you know what this means? People will quickly lose confidence in such sites and that will transform into loss of revenue. The site may even be forced to go out of business.

So it will be professional suicide for a poker site to rig their games. No sensible poker site will want to risk its reputation and well-being by providing specific outcomes for a particular group of players. When you see things from this perspective, the notion that online poker games are rigged becomes ridiculous.

It would be more likely that people claim online poker is rigged because they aren’t winning. Even some players have accused casinos of cheating in slots when they don’t win after playing for some time. So at the end of the day, it’s all about the human ego and the inability to admit you aren’t good enough or lucky enough. It is called selective memory. Human brain works in a way that it remembers the times we lost a lot more than we do when we win.

In a nutshell, online poker isn’t rigged. Rigging is difficult and online poker sites have more to lose than gain if they resort to cheating.

But, But It ‘Felt’ Rigged

If you play live poker regularly, you’ll know that there are times when you feel like the game is rigged. Believe us, we know that feeling. We humans feel too sentimental and become too attached quickly. There are times when we feel the universe owes us one when we feel poker owes us.

But the bitter truth is that poker doesn’t owe you anything and that there is no justice in poker. The fact that you lost all your games yesterday doesn’t mean you’ll win today. Hell, you can even continue your bad run of form for the rest of the week. And if we look at it critically, most people that complain online poker is rigged aren’t just skilled at poker.

I had months in my poker career where I was down more than 30 buyins after 100.000 hands. And yet, I was profitable at end of that year. It can take a while for the variance to get close to the real expected winnings.

Things That Actually Could Go Wrong in Online Poker

Generally, we don’t lose sleep wondering whether a poker room is rigging games or not. However, there are some issues that you should be genuinely concerned about when it comes to online poker.

Account Hacking – This has happened more times than we are happy about. Evil hackers finding their way into the accounts of poker players and stealing their money. However, many online poker sites now take security very seriously. The chances of some low-life hackers getting away with your funds are pretty low these days. But should that happen, it’s very likely your funds will be reinstated.

Games Will Get Solved – Well, more people are becoming interested in being skilled at poker and there’s a chance, a small one anyway, that people will become so skilled at poker that won’t be enough losing players in the games to make a profit possible. Believe us, we’ve seen this happen with sit and go. But don’t worry, this isn’t something that will happen overnight, or even happen at all. We are just trying to project into the future. There are some game solvers on the market, that tell you the optimal move (not in real-time, as it takes a while to calculate the correct move).

Unbeatable Bots Will Be Invented – Ever played against a poker bot? Those things are damn good. Some poker bots have even beaten top poker players over large sample sizes. For now, this software can only be used for heads-up play. But we can’t help but wonder whether a time will come when these bots will be unbeatable! Check out our article – Do poker sites have bots? – for more information.

Past Online Cheating Scandals

A number of notable cheating scandals have occurred over the years. One of such scandals happened in 2007 through an online site known as Absolute Poker. Now, the operators of Absolute Poker were based on Mohawk Tribal lands in Canada as online poker isn’t legal in most parts of the United States. To know where online poker is legal in the US, check out our article on the 4 states where online poker is legal.

What happened, in this case, was a player that came second in a poker competition noticed that the person who took first place, known as Potripper, was consistently winning on horrible hands and very bad bets. Potripper went home with $30,000 in this particular tournament.

This prompted a  lawyer turned poker pro named Johnson to start looking into Potripper. During the investigation, it was discovered that Potripper was collaborating with a former employee of Absolute Poker. This employee was able to hack into the site and was able to write a program that makes him see every players’ card. And you know what that means.

Video: Potripper and The biggest cheating scandal in online poker history.

Some players were able to get back some of their money. Others weren’t so lucky and this is because the extent of the scam couldn’t be determined. However, you can avoid this if you stick with licensed and regulated sites. You can check our review of PokerStars, a popular online poker site.

How To Best Online Poker Algorithms

Ha, who doesn’t want to know how to beat the RNG? But it’s easier said than done. A quick Google search will bring tons of results, many of which have very little value. The results are just a rehash of one another, talking about mathematics and probability and still not providing any value.

In a nutshell, you can’t beat the algorithm. Or it’s nearly impossible for you to beat the algorithm.

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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