Monday, August 14, 2006

Online Poker's Sword of Damocles

If you've played online poker for any period of time, then you know that the online game can be a far more profitable deal. Bonus offers, lower rakes, special promotions... they have the effect of knocking the house "take" down from the roughly 10% max found in most B&M casinos to something much less. 5% is on the high end of an online site's rake, when all extra factors are considered --- and it often approaches zero, as in the WPEX site and a few others with outstanding rakeback and bonus-offer provisions.

Rake is the Sword of Damocles of the online game: It's a for-real opportunity for greater profit, once you believe that the games themselves are more than just real, that they are honest and legit. Lower rake equals greater profit for the online player, but lower rake means nothing to the player who refuses to believe in the integrity of the game. What's odd, though, is that the difference between the net live and online rake percentages is so huge, that any loss due to dishonesty --- and there is some, but it's almost always due to cheating players, not cheating sites --- is easily covered by the much lower online rake. Ye must have faith.

It's a recent post by Kris over at the blog that brings this up, where he rails (not for the first time) about the stupid customers who suffer a few bad beats or a string of suckouts and cite it as proof that the site --- and by extension, online poker --- must be rigged.

"I wish schools taught kids more math"

I am just posting this here so our standard response to anyone questioning the RNG can be to give them a link to this page. Then they can learn for themselves how ridiculous some of their theories and statements are.

[A series of links follows, to info on various random-number generators, variance, statistical theories, and the like. There's even a link to the forums, too, but since their tech guys haven't been able to explain why my forum logon doesn't work --- something that's been reported a half dozen times over two months, and which they can never bother to trck down and fix --- I have to give them a tiny ding on that one (*wink*).]

Sorry for having to make this post, but I'm at my wits with regard to the best way to deal with players that think online poker is rigged. Sometimes their stupidity and paranoia is simply amazing. It must be horrible to live in fear of others ripping you off, and to not realise salvation is just a few paragraphs of reading away....

Kris @

Well, Kris, it's part of the job, so suck it up and deal with it, kid, or change your name to something with lots of vowels in it, emigrate to Vegas, and drive a cab.

What Kris vents on isn't really what it seems --- it is instead the nature of the disconnect, the fear of the unknown, and that's always going to be a part of the equation. It's part of why online sites must offer a better valuation deal to its customers, though as Kris indicates, if these people wanted to actually learn about stats and probabilities, their own answers are easy to find. But those players never will, so and other sites will always have their customer churn. Each bad player moves from site to site until he lands somewhere and has an initial run of luck --- said site is then declared to be an "honest" site, and play goes on. It's just that simple.

Readers here know that I like --- it's a small, independent site, not yet in the list of KAP affiliates, but they try hard to do things right. One of the things I like about the site is their willingness to be real people, as Kris himself has demonstrated on more than one occasion. When I know that I've got human bodies on the other end, I have faith in their abilities... or at least their honesty. Crooks try to hide themselves; doesn't. They drop the ball on occasion, but all businesses do that.

Is online poker rigged?

Silly question.

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