- What is Internet Poker?
- Is Internet Poker Legal?
- Is Internet Poker Safe/Fair?
- Choosing a Poker Site
- Poker Bonuses
- Internet Poker for Windows
- Internet Poker for Macs
- Creating a Player Account
- Play vs. Real Money Poker
- How to Deposit Money
- Cash Games vs. MTTs/SNGs
- Browsing the Poker Lobby
- Using the Poker Table
- Internet Poker Etiquette
- How to Cash Out Money
- Internet Poker FAQ
- Poker Lingo and Terms
- Further Reading
Is Internet Poker Fair/Safe?... Time to Find Out
If you are a new Internet poker player, it is perfectly normal to have some reserves about playing poker online for real money. You can't see the playing cards, you can't see your opponents, and you aren't even sure how the outcome of each hand is determined - this is certainly cause for concern, or at least for a little research.
This article is going to answer various questions about the fairness, randomness, and safety of Internet poker. Let's get into it.
Is Internet Poker Fair?
This question could be answered in many ways. For example, I could explain:
- Does everyone have the same chance of receiving a winning hand?
- Are the community cards really "random"?
- Is the rake at Internet poker rooms comparable to the rake at live poker rooms?
- Could other players at my table collude against me?
- What is this I hear about "multi-accounting"?
I'll answer each question now. The first two questions have simple answers, which can be explained with a discussion about...
Random Number Generators
Since Internet poker rooms don't have live dealers, they have to use some other method for "shuffling" and "dealing" the virtual poker cards. Most poker sites use "Random Number Generators" to randomly determine which cards come off the deck.
Random Number Generators (RNGs) are extremely advanced applications that have been proven to provide absolutely random results, time and time again. Poker room's RNGs are among the most advanced RNGs in the world, largely because the randomness of the deck determines the fairness of the poker site.
For example, Full Tilt Poker uses an RNG system with several independent layers. They use two types of hardware RNGs that produce random bit streams, as well as two levels of software RNGs that use random information from the poker site to determine their numbers. If any of the four systems are compromised, that system is removed from the site. The games continue on without a hitch using the three remaining RNGs.
Since a lot of this discussion is over my head, I gain further confidence from knowing that all poker sites are accredited by third party testing companies. Firms such as Cigital Accreditation and Technical Systems Testing Accreditation come in and perform strenuous tests on the poker room's RNGs, then provide public and accurate reports.
All of the poker rooms listed on my website have passed these RNG tests with flying colors, so you can be sure that the cards coming off the deck are completely random.
Further RNG Reading:
- Visit Utah.edu for a thorough explanation of Random Number Generators.
Internet Poker Rake vs. Live Poker Rake
Another question about Internet poker's fairness is if the rake is fair? We can quickly answer this question with a comparison of the rake schedules at Full Tilt Poker and the MGM poker room for $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em cash tables.
Full Tilt Poker uses a 5% rake schedule with a $3 maximum, which is pretty common in the online poker world. The MGM uses four "strike points", meaning that they take $1 of rake every time the pot reaches a certain amount. This table will show you more:
|Rake Comparison||$10 Pot||$20 Pot||$30 Pot||$40 Pot|
|Full Tilt Poker||$0.50 Rake||$1 Rake||$1.50 Rake||$2 Rake|
|The MGM Poker Room||$1 Rake||$2 Rake||$3 Rake||$4 Rake|
As you can see, Full Tilt offers a much more favorable rake schedule than the MGM's poker room. Also factor in that there is no tipping at online poker tables, and you will realize that playing online is much "cheaper" than playing at live poker tables.
Internet Poker Collusion
Another way that Internet poker could be unfair is if players at the table are colluding in an effort to outsmart the other players at the table. This is called "collusion", and is illegal in live poker rooms and highly frowned upon at online poker rooms.
The most common way that players collude is to keep in contact via cell phone or instant messenger program while playing at the same table. Then, they raise against each other to drive others out of the pot while taking any previous bets.
Fortunately, it is very easy for Internet poker rooms to recognize this behavior, because it is so out of line with normal poker behavior. Also, most colluders are very poor at their job and end up going broke because they don't know what they are doing.
If you suspect collusion at your table, quickly email the poker site's suppor team so they can look into it. If players are discovered to be colluding, rest assured that they will receive a life-time ban from the poker room.
Multi-accounting is another way players can "cheat" at online poker. Multi-accounting is when one player has multiple accounts at the same poker site, and enters the same multi-table tournament more than once. By having multiple accounts in the same tournament, that player gives himself a slightly better chance to win the event.
Fortunately, poker sites do not allow players with the same IP address to join the same cash tables or sit and gos - only multi table tournaments. The advantage is therefore minimized, as two accounts in a field of thousands is not as big of an advantage as two accounts at a table of nine would be.
Ok, so now that we have determined that Internet poker is fair (or as fair as you can expect any game of chance to be) let's move onto our next subject - safety.
Is Internet Poker Safe?
This question, like the previous one, can be interpreted in many ways. For example:
- Is my money safe in my online poker account?
- Can I trust the poker site with my credit card/bank account details?
- Could other players "hack" into my poker account?
I'll answer each of those questions now.
Is My Online Poker Money Safe?
As long as you are smart about it, yes. Stick to established and trusted poker rooms and you won't have any problems. The only time players have had issues with poker rooms stealing their money is when they sign up at a brand new room no one has heard of, deposit, then all of a sudden can't cash out.
The main threat to your money is other players, which I will discuss in a moment.
Can I Thrust the Poker Site with my Financial Info?
Again, as long as you are smart about it. Stick to established sites and you'll be fine.
Could Other Players "Hack" into my Account?
This is the real concern. All that stands between a would-be thief and all of your poker money/financial details is a password, because your username is public information. This is why you always want to choose a very strong password (include lowercase and uppercase letters as well as numbers and symbols in a random order to be safe) and be careful who you trust with your computer if you save your password on it.
You should *never* give your password out to anyone, especially via the Internet, because a thief could have hacked into your friends' messenger accounts to get info from you. Be very careful with your password and you will never have a problem.
Now that you know Internet poker is safe and fair (as long as you take proper precautions), read the next article in our guide:
Next Article » How to Choose the Perfect Poker Site