Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is Online Poker Rigged?

No Limit Texas Hold’em, It is one of the most popular online poker games.

It seems everyone from amateurs; professionals and celebrities are playing online poker. This phenomena has inspired many people to move onto some of the biggest live tournaments like the WSOP (World Series of Poker) and the WPT (World Poker Tour)

Many champions in the last 5 years got their start at online poker sites. Chris Moneymaker and Joe Hachem (from Pokerstars) started playing online poker years before they won the World Series of Poker Championship. Professionals like Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth all endorse different online poker sites.

Inspired by the shows you see on TV, you decide to give it a shot and download your favorite online poker site. After making your first deposit, you find a suitable tournament, register and sit down at your virtual table, anxiously waiting to scoop big pots and take it down just like the pro’s!

The first hand, you look down at a half-decent starting hand and call the blind, after all, the blinds are cheap, and you want to build a stack. The flop comes out in your favor; you win with top pair and move on to the next hand. The next two hands, you fold. The fourth hand you get pocket Aces, you raise, get a few callers, and when the flop comes down all low cards you bet substantial, everyone folds and you take down another pot. The fifth hand you get AK suited, you just call. Flop comes A K 9 rainbow, your opponent bets, you raise, he pushes all in and you call. His pocket cards are revealed 5 7, a sigh of relief as you see he has a very slim chance of winning. The turn is a 6, and you know the river even before you read it. That’s right the only card that can beat you –(the dreaded snowman) - 8! You are stunned and mortified.

How does this happen? Moreover, why does it happen so often in online poker? You question your ability to play, and wonder if you should have gone all in pre-flop or raised pre-flop. Then you curse the idiot who called with 5 7 off suit and make a note on him stating “DONKEY!”

This scenario is not that far off from real life happenings at online poker sites all over the Internet everyday. Any online poker player is familiar with this type of ridiculous bad beat scenario. It makes us want to play the same bad hands in the hopes of sucking out on someone.

So, why does it happen? Is it because the Internet is full of bad players or, is it because the online poker sites are rigged? Surprisingly, It is not because of bad players, It is because the online poker sites ARE rigged! However, not the way you think.

Read that again very carefully: Online poker sites are rigged, and a careful study of what is happening behind the scenes will reveal not only, how they are rigged, but how you can beat the online poker program. If you stay tuned to my posts over the next few weeks, I will continue to reveal what is going on behind the scenes at the online poker sites!

When should I Bluff in No Limit Hold em Poker?

Bluffing in poker is actually a tool, as such if you use a tool improperly it will not have as well an effect, or you may break the tool. If you use a tool for other than it’s intended purpose you risk damaging the tool, or worse damaging the article you are working on.

For example, a pipe wrench is good for loosening and tightening pipes and large nuts. Although it looks strong enough to use as a hammer, you risk breaking the head of the pipe wrench (or the teeth) if you use it to hammer something. What good is a damaged pipe wrench if it can no longer perform its job?

In no limit hold em poker, the same goes for bluffing, it is a tool, and if you know how to properly use the tool it effectively accomplishes the job without damage.

The intended purpose of bluffing in poker, is to take a pot when you are SURE that your opponent will fold. That is the tool’s purpose. Too many times people ‘take a stab’ at a pot without considering what their opponent may do. If your opponent does not fold when you bluff and ends up making his hand, you have caused a lot of damage to yourself by improperly using the tool of bluffing.

Let us assess your damage, first and foremost you have cost yourself unnecessary chip damage, your opponent now has your poker chips, secondly and probably as equally important is you have caused image damage. You have unnecessarily tarnished your image at the poker table to your opponents. If opponents know you are willing to bluff, they may make this assumption more often of you, and if they know you are willing to bluff a calling station, they will know something else about you, You are not very smart! Your image and your chip stack will suffer when you improperly bluff.

Now, you must recognize the proper usage of your tool (bluffing).

When is the time to bluff?

  • When you are positive your opponent will fold. If you are not at least 80% certain your opponent will fold, then do not attempt to try a steal. A key indicator your opponent will call is if he is a calling station and there is a draw or undercards on the board.

  • When the likelihood of you making a hand is higher than a mere chance. If you have a greater than 60% chance to make your hand, a bluff (which may actually be a semi-bluff) is the right move. For instance, if you hold top pair with a straight draw, this is actually a semi bluff and you have a minimum of 10 possible cards to better your hand. Your hand 10/(52-21) < > = X/(52-31) Your opponent’s hand

  • When you have enough chips to recover should your bluff fail. This is an important aspect. If your bluff fails and your stack is crippled, you will not be able to protect yourself if you get a strong hand.

All too often, an amateur poker player will use the BLUFF as a means to gain chips. However, soon enough your opponent will notice your aggressive style and likely may call you down, especially when you have a decent hand, ultimately resulting in disaster. Therefore, use the poker bluff sparingly and only when you know you can win the pot.