I haven’t played any on-line Casino Malaysia for quite a while, except for freerolls. When I did play, the highest stakes I worked up to was 50c/$1 – hardly a high roller, but still enough to run through a few hundred dollars in not too much time.
I would do alright for a while, getting my bankroll up to just over $600 at one point. Then a series of suck-outs and bad beats would take place and my bankroll dwindled to $400, $200, $100, $50 and three $15 tournament buy-ins saw it pretty much gone.
When on a losing streak like that, the questions one always asks is ‘is it rigged?’. It is certainly easy to imagine it is at the time the bad beats are happening. And there are no end of conspiracy theorists who will offer their firm conviction to attest it is. Yet the hard evidence always seems to be lacking.
Then I read books by Phil Gordon and Dan Harrington, and see people like Phil Ivey and Howard Lederer(1) on TV. Now, I am not the best reader of people, nor by far the best, or perhaps even a very good, judge of character. Never the less, all those people, and the vast majority of professional players in the public eye, are undoubtedly people of great moral fibre and personal integrity. Could you imagine Phil Helmuth, no matter how he may act sometimes, every cheating anyone? Or Gus Hansen, or Erik Lindgren, or Joe Hachem?
No. It’s just not conceivable that it could happen. Maybe one of them could pull off a ‘solid citizen’ act for a while, but not all of them, not all the time.
Yet these are the people who are shareholders and promoters for the biggest on-line poker sites like Full Tilt, PokerStars and Doyles Room, to name a few. Either Howard Lederer and
Chris Furguson are total crooks capable of conning a fair proportion of the whole world, or on-line poker isn’t rigged.
So I think we can safely say that, no, on-line poker is not rigged, and in the main the sites are run by reputable people with sound business ethics.
But, and it’s a big but, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be rigged by someone, at some point. Maybe not the owners, maybe not the senior management. But who is the sysadmin watching the servers at 2am in the morning? Who just might look in on game in ‘diagnostic’ or ‘superuser’ more? And what do those superuser modes let you do? See all the hole cards? See the board cards before they come out? Run seven hands on an eight seat table with all the winnings going to a single account?
Maybe it needs no one in attendance. Maybe some smart programmer wrote a ‘diagnostic’ routine that sits at a table and folds every hand, but once every 20-30 hands deals itself a hand that becomes the nut hand on the river?
Who knows what can be done? Do the site owners even know? Maybe they are just as big a victims as the unsuspecting players?
We have one case recently where exactly such a thing did happen. By someone in senior management at a well known on-line site no less. The thing is, being a senior manager, his technical skills were obviously fairly limited, and so was his poker skill to think that such obvious bad play, that still won, wouldn’t be spotted by other players. If a total dorkus can manipulate the system quite easily (it had to be easy to do, otherwise he would not have been able to), what could someone with both technical and poker skill pull off? What are the chances they would get caught?
That is a lot of questions, right? But they are not unreasonable questions. I think it could only be to the benefit of all on-line sites, and the game in general, if they could be answered.
Over the past 20 years casinos in Las Vegas have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure the security of their patrons (and their patrons money), and the fairness of their games. Because they recognize that in doing that, they increase their overall market.
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS – BUT INCONCLUSIVE
Back at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to try and get some more stats for my adjusted tournament strategy. Could not pick up a hand to save my life.
I was at a reasonably tight/aggressive table (if you count ace-rag as tight). Anyway, all my limps with 7 8 and J 10 ended up facing a raise and a re-raise. Limps with weaker hands might be in five or six way pots, but hit nothing on the flop and were either checked down or folded to other action.
I picket up one 800 chip pot, but ended up going to the break 300 down from the stating count, due to the slow bleed of blinds and folded limps.
Shortly after the break I picked up A Q in the BB (blinds at 100/200). We were down to six handed, there was one caller and both blinds checked. I raised it 600, one caller and the blinds folded. The flop was ragged and my continuation bet of 1,000 took the pot.
No more action for a while with quality hands like 7 4 and J 6. Our table was broken up and I was back at an eight seated table, blinds at 200/400 and 4,500 chips.
UTG I get Q Q, so raise it up to 1,600 hoping to take it down there and then. No such luck, one caller, a novice player who through two lucky all-ins earlier had a bunch of chips.
Flop is 9 A 10. I absolutely know I am beat and the novice will have ace rag. However; my short stack will be crippled any way, and there is some small chance a) he is calling with a paired 9 or 10 or b) I hit trips. I bet on each street and am all in on the river without improvement. He proudly flips his A 10 and that was me done for the night.