I have always heard accusations of sites being rigged but I cannot tell whether this has happened to me, or not.

I was about to download the WSOP mobile poker application and there were a lot of commenters telling that game was rigged. I did not download the app after that. Perhaps they were just bad losers but since they were a huge amount of commenters -at least in the Spanish comments- I took the topic seriously.

My question is: Is there a reliable known method to verify whether a game server is rigged / not truly* random?

(* without entering on a deep and philosophical discussion about randomness, I care about the honesty of the implementation instead of about whether the server uses a strong vs a weak random algorithm).

Please stop dupemarking this question. This is not related to any specific server despite the given example. I am asking in a theoretical way. No answer in the dupe-suggested question answers my question, and in no way the question is the same as this one.

I think the biggest potential risk is not from non-random hands, but from insiders who have available to them knowledge of the (perhaps totally random) hands in real-time while they're playing out. The Absolute Poker scandal about 10 years ago was a good example of this kind of thing. Are current sites doing this kind of thing? It's hard to say, but if there were real evidence for it, it probably wouldn't have to come from random internet commenters in the iTunes app store.

Long ago in the early online poker days, there was a famous case with Planet Poker of a poor shuffling algorithm that made it possible to predict the hole cards of players. This wasn't a problem with the random number generation, and it wasn't "rigged," but it goes to show that other software defects can cause big problems in the games. I don't think anything this obvious is still going on.

I think it's safe to assume that the people writing those comments about sites being rigged have zero evidence behind their claims. Demonstrating that would require tons of hand histories and/or some inside info such as in the Absolute Poker case.

  • I remember both these cases very vividly, especially the Absolute "Potripper" scandal, having been a very active user of the network when it happened. The analysis the 2p2 members did was excellent in uncovering this. Nice answer. – Toby Booth Jun 30 '16 at 6:02
  • I gave this a +1 a long time ago. I am programmer and did some research on the algorithm and best practice was established clear back in 1965. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher%E2%80%93Yates_shuffle – paparazzo Jul 3 '16 at 23:12

To directly answer the question,

Is there a reliable known method to verify whether a game server is rigged / not truly* random?

...without trying to go on too much of a tangent:

The most reliable known method to detect whether an online poker site gives itself an edge or rigs the game on a certain way is to take a huge amount of data and analyze it against the odds, then use this to look for a trend. It would take hundreds of thousands of hands worth of data before the statistics show any kind of variation from expected results due to the randomness factor.

The accepted answer of this possible duplicate question summarizes this well.

Another method would be if you actually got your hands on their algorithm and deciphered it which would probably require some legally questionable activity in itself... though this would result in actual proof if there was foul play.

Not to get too side-tracked but there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to accessing information so there are legal exceptions to do with data being technically publicly accessible which does cause loopholes.

You as an individual are basically powerless. It would need to be some blatant anomalies for you to discover it but it has happened.

One big problem as an observer is you don't get to see the cards they muck. To perform a statistical analysis you really need that. If someone gets AA too much is the easy part. Did they fold JJ because QQ was out requires full access to the data.

Your distinction of honesty of the implementation vs a weak random algorithm is mute. As an external observer all you know is what came out. Unless they disclose the implementation.

There is not a method to determine if a site is rigged. I only know basic statistics. If you had access to the data in 10,000 hands you might be able to show a statistical anomaly. Same guy never got a card under 10 and got AA 1/40. Proving random would take millions of shuffle and even then you would have confidence interval of like 95%. The number of possible shuffles is like 50 digits long.

There are testing agencies like ecorgra that sites may submit to.

People blame bad beats on unfair shuffles. Statistically bad beats happen. Runner runner (need the last 2 queens) is 1/756. It happens and people blame it on unfair. If it happens 1/30 for a player in 10,000 deals then that is flag. But if it happens 1/400 would take billions and billions of deals to prove a statistical anomaly.

A perfect shuffle is mathematically defined. I produces all permutations equally. The Fisher Yates shuffle has been around since 1938 and yet at least one site managed to get it wrong. The common mistake is to produce too many permutations. Another is to miss shuffling the last card. So if you watch enough hands and a card never comes up you know it is never going to come up. If all decks start with the same last card then a big hole.

  • One reason on-line poker is not legal in the US is that it would be hard to regulate. But I still wish they would allow it. – paparazzo Jun 30 '16 at 13:26
  • The distinction is so meaningful that you actually provided an answer which puts clear the distinction and even put numbers describing the impact of such distinction. – Luis Masuelli Jun 30 '16 at 14:11
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    Your bigger risk is collusion. If just two players are disclosing hole cards you are at a disadvantage. If half the table is sharing hole cards you are at a huge disadvantage. – paparazzo Jun 30 '16 at 14:34
  • I'd like to focus on statistics matter. Do major online servers provide a history of observable results (showing only disclosed cards and no mucked cards)? – Luis Masuelli Jun 30 '16 at 14:40
  • For the most part no. That would help humans but it would be more of an advantage to bots as a bot can process the data in near real time. The best model here is they submit data to a testing agency and you trust the testing agency. – paparazzo Jun 30 '16 at 14:46

Poker sites that use money are required to have a minimum degree of randomness before they are legally allowed to handle money. This data is easily verified by using a massive volume of hands to track overall statistics. Pretty much every online poker site or app is legit if it uses real money.

Play money on the other hand is something else... As this fake money isn't a currency as such they can do things that most apps do: They make the game more interesting, more exciting, so more people play for longer. They can increase the number of flushes over straights for example to make it more interesting. They can do this because there are no laws stopping them from managing their game currency as they wish. They can and often do this to make poker more exciting to your average joe.

Basically, the only way to guarantee that you will be playing completely random hands is to play real money.

  • Real money does not guarantee random hands – paparazzo Jul 15 '16 at 12:35

Wsop mobile poker application is a free to play, playmoney software, not a real money one. So you don't risk anything in testing it out. Just dont spend real money to buy playmoney chips or something like that.. you better spend that money playing real poker at micro stakes to learn against more concerned players (in playmoney, players don t really care enough about their virtual chips to make efforts in learning the game and learning discipline, for the most part.. it s just good to learn the rules). And no poker site has ever been reported as rigged by serious people afaIk. There has been one big scandal with UB and a few other rooms when there were a few "superusers" at high stakes (guys working with ppl inside the poker room company and having somehow access to their opponent s hole cards). They were spotted pretty fast and its the closest to a "rigged" poker room there ever was afaIk. The room creators usually have in their best interest to have the game being fair (there are controls, rigging would be a felony, and a poker site makes enough money without needing ro rig). On real poker rooms the danger comes from the players, not from the room software, usually. Bot users have been a growing plague over the years, some top sites manage to catch them I think nowadays but they still plague many lesser rooms, asian market etc.. Collision is another annoying thing, not seen as frequently though (much easier to spot). These problems dont affect much low and micro stakes though I think. Cheaters aim for more money than that ;).

One thing and one thing only makes sense to me and that is ..these poker sites are there to make money off of us and if we aren't playing for real money then they can create an algorithm that benefits them because there is no legal line they are crossing for manipulating code on a free game....we buy chips to play and that is our choice ,the best way to feel a little bit more comfortable about the fairness of the game is to either play for real money or don'y buy in-game chips.

  • This doesn't address the specifics of the question about how to verify the honesty or randomness of a game. – Toby Booth Jan 24 at 5:47

It amazes me that anybody believes, for a second, that poker sites that sell chips for real money, have any motive other than to make as much real money as possible.

One vital ingredient of this model is everybody has to lose.

Sorry about that. Play with fake money for fun.

  • Whilst it certainly isn't true that everybody has to lose, it is true that for a site to make money, it is absolutely necessary for them to continue to add players that eventually lose but only by the rake. – Toby Booth Nov 6 at 16:30

Well..rather than speculating on the percentage of the prability of blah blah.. I'm going to write about My experience playing different "poker" apps, from the best "serious poker app" known to the "Governor of Poker " entertainment app. ALL of them are Rigged...!!!!! Why ..., because for all of them, same process is found; * IF this is your first time playing this particular app;

WSOP, Zynga poker, Texas Hold'em, Poker France, DH Texas poker, and Governor of poker, will start you off with 50k to 100k free chips, few offers to buy more virtual chips for your hard earn Real money.., then after your decline, you're off to the tables. Usually your first hands will be winners with some losses but your cards will be shuffled and distributed fairly and you'll have random hands ranging from Ace to small cards, with "pocket" hands, matching and pairing cards on the felt. You'll feel like a poker Pro after 10/20 hands, you might go to Lobby to change table,..few ads offering you to have "more winning chances if you purchase more chips or this particular bundle", you decline, go play, some winnings and losses..All normal, you leave table and app to rest after 30/40 mins of play or so (or longer for others..). Then you come back to play next day... For my case i've been logging in "Poker" apps since 5/6 years, played most of them and this is more or less how it goes, when i seat at a table and want to play Poker on almost any of these apps now : First hand : 2/6 2) 9/7, 3) 2/8 4) 2/J 5) 2/4 6) 5/3 7) J/2 8) Q/8 9) 2/3 10) K/4 11) 2/6 12) 2/J 13) 2/7 14) 2/2 15) K/Q ...and this can go on and on and on and ...On,( It seems Playtika who's Developper of many of these apps, does not care if someone was to record those "Deuce Streaks" as a proof of Complete Lack of randomization), i might receive AA or KK, or 10/10 but more than often they are losing hands. Otherwise some players seems to Never lose..., betting All-ins with 4/9 un-suited yet getting the win Almost Every Time..., or you find yourself with a Trip J or K or A and yes..the same guy has a straight...Again... Or let me tell you about the numbers of times on WSOP a Perfect straight appear on the felt, every 6/7 hand ...there's a Straight...!!!...and if i have a Straight most likely they have a Full House... At times i scream at "Monica" ..."Why do you hate Me...., WHY the Deuces ad repetitum ad neseaum....WHYYYYYY... And this scenario repeats itself Every time, as soon as i seat at Any table, of Any of these "poker" apps..!! I plan soon to denunciate these cheats and con artists : playtika, by recording these play sessions and post it on social networks...!

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    If you do no have hard data this is entirely subjective and lacks rigorous analysis. It's unfortunate you have had this experience though it certainly doesn't prove that a provider has cheated you or others. There are a few Q/A's on this site that explore the hard data further. Here for example. Good luck. – Toby Booth Dec 19 '17 at 14:39
  • Lots of places to play free online without putting out cash to buy "free" chips. as far as rigging of free games, whom cares, no gain, no foul. The only rigging of free games I noticed ever is that some sites raked free games and some don't. If your playing in a unraked free game you may over estimate your chances for success in a cash game which I suppose is the point of not raking free games. – Jon Feb 6 at 13:48

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