Myths About Online Poker
When it comes to online poker, there are numerous myths associated with it, many of which get repeated so often that they are widely considered to be true. Unfortunately, some of these myths give a completely false impression of what it's actually like to play poker on the internet. They can discourage people from playing and some of them originate from nothing more than players trying to find reasons for why they lose money.
Although online poker is different from live poker in many ways, it's still fundamentally the same game. Some people seem to believe that the cards "behave" differently online and that they aren't as random as cards dealt from a physical deck, but this is simply not true. This mistaken belief is quite possibly the main reason why many of the myths we'll look at in this article still exist to this day.
The biggest myth of all would be to say that online poker isn't fair and that poker sites always cheat their players by determining who is dealt which cards and when. There have been people claiming that online poker is fixed ever since it first became possible to play over the internet and unfortunately there'll probably always be some people that believe those claims.
We'll start this article by looking at the question of, Is online poker rigged?, in detail. Then we'll list the most common online poker myths, explain why they exist, and why they aren't true. We'll also discuss some of the negative effects of actually believing in these myths.
Is Online Poker Rigged/Fixed/All a Big Scam?
There are more than a few people who believe that online poker is all a big scam. They use words like "fixed" and "rigged", seemingly with the belief that all poker sites are engaged in fraudulent behavior to cheat the players in some way. It's hard to know for sure just why so many people are convinced that online poker isn't legitimate, but people probably have a wide range of different explanations for their beliefs.
It's quite possible that a lot of these people have heard others state that online poker is fixed and then simply chose to believe them. It's even possible that they have never played online themselves, but just formed an opinion based entirely on what other people are saying. Rather than looking into it themselves, they choose to assume the worst. It's possible that these people are also the types that tend to believe in various conspiracy theories, so they probably wouldn't change their minds no matter how much actual proof they were offered.
There are also probably plenty of people who have tried online poker, lost some money, and then preferred to question the integrity of poker sites rather than their own poker playing abilities. They don't want to accept the possibility that they're not good enough to beat the other players, so they instead look for something else to blame their failures on. It's only natural to think this way and some people even have egos that simply won't allow them to believe that they might not be as good at something as they would like to think they are.
Our views on the people who believe online poker is rigged may seem harsh, and to some extent they are. We just don't think it's fair that some people are put off the idea of playing poker just because there are others who are wrongly convinced that it's all fixed. We should, however, point out the fact that not everyone who has doubts about the fairness of online poker is necessarily an irrational conspiracy theorist or someone with an inflated opinion of their own ability to play cards.
Unfortunately, there have been some instance of poker sites cheating players, so it isn't unreasonable for people to have concerns due to this fact alone. However, it's very important to recognize that such circumstances are incredibly rare, particularly when you consider the number of different sites in existence and the fact that online poker has been around for many years now. It's also worth noting that these cases didn't involve rigging or fixing which cards were dealt, but instead certain individuals that played were able to view the cards of their opponents.
Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker were embroiled in the two most famous online poker cheating scandals. In both cases there were suspicions within the poker playing community that cheating was taking place which lead to a number of experienced players setting out to gather evidence. They managed to uncover the truth, forcing admissions from the sites in question. The poker community truly believes that any site cheating its players will always eventually get caught.
Even though, we would love to if we could, we unfortunately cannot state with absolute certainty that there'll never be another case of a poker site cheating its players. Like any other industry where there are substantial sums of money involved, there's always the risk that some unethical people will try to find ways to profit unfairly from others.
We can state with a great deal of confidence that online poker as a whole isn't fixed or rigged. There are plenty of reputable poker sites on the internet, many of which make enough money through charging rake alone that they simply don't need to rip off their players. They couldn't even if they wanted to. They are regulated, so therefore their software is regularly tested to ensure that it uses random number generators to determine which cards are dealt. If you stick to playing at such sites, then it's probable that you'll experience perfectly fair games.
What you choose to believe is ultimately up to you, and if you can't overcome the concerns you might have about the possibility of being cheated, then you probably shouldn't play. It's unlikely that you'll ever fully enjoy yourself anyway. Our view is that you should try to forget about poker as a whole being rigged, as it's the biggest myth in online poker and one that's best ignored.
You Can't Win at Online Poker
For many people, the default position when it comes to any form of gambling is that it's impossible to win. This is usually based largely on the fact that most gamblers do indeed lose. There's no correlation between the two though; just because most people lose money doesn't mean it's impossible to win.
After all, the very point of gambling is that you have a chance to win. If it truly was impossible, why would so many choose to gamble? It simply doesn't make any sense when you think about it rationally. There are certainly some forms of gambling where the odds are against you, such as playing casino games for example, but even then it's still possible to get lucky and win.
Playing poker is very different to playing casino games anyway. There's some luck involved, for sure, but there's also a great deal of skill and strategy. The players with the best skills and the best understanding of strategy will generally win in the long run. This is true regardless of whether they are playing online or live.
It really is a complete myth that you can't win money playing poker online and the problem with believing it is that you'll be less inclined to do what it takes to be a winner. The simple fact of the matter is that there are plenty of players who do win money consistently. Many of them would argue that what they do shouldn't be considered gambling at all, but rather playing a game of skill for money.
On a side note, it's important to recognize the distinction between us stating that the best players win in the long run and the statement that the best players always win. The latter is another myth really, as players can and do beat better players on occasion. This is largely due to the fact that there's still an element of luck to the game and it's a big part of what makes poker so appealing. The game wouldn't be nearly as much fun if the best players were guaranteed to win each and every time they played.
It's Easy to Collude Online
If you aren't familiar with this term in a poker sense, colluding is when two or more players play "together" at the table in order to gain an advantage over their opponents. They communicate while they are playing (via Skype or the phone for example) to let each another know the cards that they have. This can help them make more informed decisions that give them an unfair advantage over the other players. In some circumstances, those involved in colluding may even make specific moves to try to force another player to fold or put more chips in the pot.
Colluding can and does happen in online poker; there's no denying that. To say it's commonplace is complete nonsense though. It's really not as easy as you might think to do it with great success and it's certainly something players can do in a live environment as well, with a few simple pre-agreed hand signals.
It could be argued, in fact, that it's harder to collude online. At the very least it's harder to get away with it. Poker sites employ a variety of detection techniques to uncover cases of collusion, including the use of sophisticated software that simply isn't available and wouldn't be as effective in live poker rooms.
Although we can't say that you'll never face opponents cheating to gain a small advantage, it's definitely a myth that you're going to be up against colluders all the time. The danger in believing this myth is that it can be used as an excuse if you keep losing to the same players, when the reality might simply be that they are more skilled than you.
You Get More Bad Beats Online
This is a myth that you're almost guaranteed to hear if you play online poker for any length of time, or even if you just talk to a few online players. It's a little ridiculous just how many people seem to genuinely believe this, when there's absolutely no evidence to prove it. It's a dangerous myth too, as players who feel like they are going to do poorly are more likely to start getting emotional and making irrational decisions during the game.
In fairness, players probably do see more bad beats online in terms of numbers. The only reason for this is that they play far more hands per hour. It's entirely logical that bad beats appear to happen more frequently when players are playing at a faster pace and there will be times it feels like they happen all the time. The reality, however, is that they happen in roughly the same proportion to playing live.
You Can't Beat the Rake At Low Limits
This myth isn't as common as some of the other myths listed on this page, but it's still one that gets repeated more often than it should. While it's true that the rake can account for a higher percentage of each pot at the lowest limits, it's not as big of a concern as people have come to believe it is. Most sites cap the maximum rake charged based on the stakes being played and the rake is surprisingly rarely excessive. It certainly doesn't make it impossible to win at the lower limits, as there are plenty of players who make money by doing just that.
The most dangerous aspect of this myth is that it can encourage people to play at higher stakes than they should and this can result in far more damage to a bankroll than the low stakes rake ever would.
Poker Sites Create Action Flops
The theory behind this myth is that poker sites intentionally set-up hands so that at least two players are strong and that they do this to ensure that there are plenty of big pots and therefore plenty of rake being paid. Like the rest of the myths discussed here, it's simply not true.
It's possible that the origin of this myth is similar to that of the bad beat myth. Players will see more action flops and more big pots simply because they are playing more hands due to the faster pace of games online. This doesn't mean anything problematic is going on though and there's certainly no hard evidence to support the idea that there is.
Poker Sites Ensure Bad Players Get Lucky
This myth is closely linked to the idea that you see more bad beats when playing online. It also assumes that poker sites have the ability to decide who gets what cards and when. This myth can therefore be instantly dispelled, seeing as the truth is that cards are sincerely dealt randomly.
Nonetheless, some players still want you to believe that sites fix things so that the bad players get lucky more often than they should. The theory probably stems from the fact that, as we mentioned earlier, the online game is played at a faster pace. It stands to reason that you'll see players "suck out" and get lucky more times if you're seeing more hands in total. However, this doesn't mean that it's happening at a proportionately higher rate.
It's also worth considering that, as a general rule, you'll probably see more bad decisions from online players than you would in a live environment. This could certainly be considered a good thing, as it's your opponents' bad decisions that will ultimately help you win money. It also means that there are more opportunities for players to get lucky, but overall you should benefit from this.
The danger with this myth is that it really is just another case of looking for something or someone to blame when you lose. There'll be occasions when you lose because of bad luck but it's important to remember that luck tends to even itself out over time. In the long run, if you can't beat the bad players online it's probably not because they are getting luckier than you. It's more likely to be because you aren't making the right decisions yourself.
You Always Lose After Cashing Out
If you've spent any time reading online poker forums or talking to online players, there's a very good chance that you'll have come across the phrase "cash out curse." This is yet another myth that's based on nothing more than unsupported rumors that lead you to believe the cards dealt aren't as random as they should be.
It's not immediately obvious how or why this myth started, but it's one that has been making its rounds for many years. There are plenty of people who genuinely believe that poker sites make sure players always go on losing streaks after making a withdrawal. This isn't at all true and it's actually difficult to imagine why a site would even want to do this. The vaguely logical assumption is that they want to discourage people from withdrawing but there's no significant gain by making sure players lose when they do.
This myth is just another example of players searching for an excuse for their losses, which is a common theme throughout most of the myths we've covered here. This is probably the main reason why they continue to be repeated and believed. As we mentioned earlier on, some people just cannot accept the fact that they aren't as good at poker as they want to believe they are.
If there's one main point that you should take away from this article it's that you shouldn't believe everything that you hear or read involving online poker. The myths we've discussed, and some others that we haven't covered, are repeated often and believed by many. Most of them aren't even close to being true, which is disappointing. Please remember that poker sites really aren't conspiring against you to make sure you lose.
The reality is that online poker is completely fair, at the vast majority of sites at least, and it's also entirely possible to win while playing online poker if you're prepared to work hard to improve your game. Just please remember that if you are losing the solution is to always be on the lookout for ways to improve. You really won't help yourself if you start falling for myths just because they may help you justify why you're not doing as well as you had hoped.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: September 2015
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