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It sure seems at times that the hands are dealt specifically to enhance betting. I am wondering if any of these sites might try to set up hands. For tournament play it wouldn't seem to be an advantage but some of the hands I see are just to hard to believe they are just chance.

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3 Answers

Well, I have two answers:

1) If you play as many hands of live poker as online poker, you will see the same thing. While it is amazingly hard to believe hands sometimes, sooner or later every hand combination imaginable (and some that aren't) will happen on their own. This is just part of a random system like poker. Keep in mind that the most extraordinary hands are the ones that we remember too. When AK beats KJ on a KQ942 board, we really don't think too much about it, but when 99 beats KK and AA on a AK992 board, we remember it and tell everybody!

2) The poker sites don't need to set hands up. There is plenty of action as it is, and the consequences of getting caught are enormous. There are people who do nothing but collect hand histories, and after getting a hundred million hands or so, you can see patterns and determine whether or not the hands are being tampered with. If they are and people see it, your entire business goes poof and nobody is making money anymore. Why would they risk that when they can just keep on making money (hand over fist) the legit way?

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and people forget the crap hands everybody folded. Making it look like only good hands to rake... –  phil soady Aug 23 '13 at 3:25
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The most important thing to remember about poker is that it is a game of luck as well as skill. Whilst good skill will win you money in the long term, the short term effects of luck will see many seemingly impossible combinations of cards fall on to the table.

The perspective taken by some players that you've pointed out is a weak facet of the poker player's mindset where they might not understand the fundamentals of luck & skill, which apply to poker more than most people want to accept.

Take coin flipping for instance: flipping a coin has a 50/50 chance of landing heads or tails. However, if you went ahead and flipped a coin 10 times, you will most likely find that this does not appear to be the case. There's a good chance that you would have flipped 7 heads and 3 tails, vice-versa or somewhere in-between. Although this contradicts our previous statement, there is a good reason for this. It is because short term results will, for the most part, be fairly erratic and contradict luck.

But what if we flipped the coin 100 times instead of 10? This is where it gets interesting...

After flipping a coin 100 times, the chance of flipping 70 heads and 30 tails has hugely decreased. This is because, in the long term, results will even out. However, some poker players do not understand this concept, and will continue to blame the dealer/random card generator for the shortcomings of their luck in the short term, when in reality, this is simply the result of misunderstanding how luck really works.

This ties in to how crazy and ridiculous flops & action cards can be dealt, because luck is a huge factor in this game and will see many ridiculous hands, as this is the nature of the game. Also, as Inafziger pointed out, the consequences of "cheating in online poker by the dealer" are not worth the risk, especially when all online gambling agencies are subject to required monthly checks on their software codebase and randomization system to make sure there is nothing fishy going on under the hood.

Some online poker rooms even upload the reports to their website for everyone to see!

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Hands where pretty much every player has a decent set of hole cards do happen and of course, the rake the site stands to earn will be much higher than a typical hand. That being said, these hands are rare (as you'd expect for a random deal).

There are two sides to every story though. If you're in such a hand and there has been lots of betting action, you stand to make a pretty tidy sum should you win.

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