The Secret Algorithm Used by Online Poker Sites

It is no secret that online poker sites use an enormous amount of security and encryption to protect their software from poker bots, colluders, and cheaters. However, one secret they can not protect is the deterministic algorithms they use in their software that decides the outcome of hands. Furthermore, any person that knows the algorithms can easily and simply win more often in online poker.

Why are they using algorithms anyway?

Initially, online poker sites had no need for extra algorithms used to ‘level the field’ as the simple use of a random number generator (RNG) would appear to produce a fair shuffle and seemingly accurate game. However in 2001, after several programmers were able to expose the flaws of the RNG and the inability of the RNG to produce an adequate number of random decks, (thereby making it easy to predict the flop, turn, and river), the online poker sites had to make changes.

After several changes were made in the seed generation of the RNG and sophisticated measures taken to produce a wider variety of random deck sequences, the online poker sites faced a new problem – collusion and cheating by unscrupulous players. This problem was addressed with a new set of algorithms that would produce a fair game by preventing colluding using sequential deterministic algorithms.

What Causes All Those Constant Bad Beats?

The implementation of those sequential algorithms intended to stop colluders actually created a new problem, it removed the true statistics and probability of the game. In other words, if you are holding pocket aces and the flop is A 9 Q, you essentially have a greater than 91% chance of wining the hand in live play. When the board finishes out 10 J or flush cards and you lose to a flush or straight by your opponent that is called a bad beat.

Simply put, the true odds of you winning the hand are no longer part of the game, because of the sequential algorithms used. These algorithms replace the true odds and determine the outcome based on their own mathematical decisions. That is why many people will claim that online poker is rigged.

What Is The Secret?

The secret is understanding how the algorithms work, and using that knowledge to curtail your own constant bad beats. In other words, the program makes a deterministic decision on the winning hand without regard to the odds, your outs, statistics, or any other true measure of the game. Therefore, if you want to win online poker, you need to understand the algorithms and put it to use in your game.

The Capitalization of Dead Money

Pretend you’re sitting in a 10 handed $5/$10 NL cash game and you raise to $40 from early position with pocket 6s. The action folds to the big blind, who defends and calls your raise. The flop turns over Qs5d3h. Your opponent checks to you and you’re looking at a pot of 85 dollars. Should you bet? Why? What would you be trying to accomplish if you bet? You most likely wouldn’t want your flop bet to get called because you know your opponent either would be likely beating you or at least live (has some number of outs to beat you). Also, if we know our hypothetical opponent in this example would never fold pocket 7s or better, then you wouldn’t be looking to bluff him out of the pot with your flop bet. However, there is 85 dollars sitting dead in the middle of the table. You could win it just by betting.

This may sound like a value bet but there is one main difference. A value bet is generally a bet that you want your opponent to call with a hand worse than yours. You clearly would rather not be called here because you would have no clue if you were actually ahead in the hand or not. You definitely wouldn’t want to get check-raised because pocket 6s cannot stand much resistance on a Qs5d3h board. When you bet with a hand that is probably winning but overall fairly weak, you’re generally hoping your opponent will fold and you can pick up the pot immediately. The primary reason for your bet is not value; it’s strictly to win the pot. This concept is called the capitalization of dead money. If your bet makes your opponent(s) fold, whether or not you had the best hand, and you win, you just capitalized on the dead money that was sitting in the pot.

The Myth of the Hot Sports Betting Handicapper

The most prevalent means of sports service marketing is some variant on the theme that so and so is “red hot” and you should therefore pay him your money and follow his plays. The crooked services do this by coming up with all sorts of confusing and contradictory rating systems and hyperbolic descriptions for their games. How many times have you heard a handicapper brag about being “16-2 on his 500 star MWC underdog plays of the month” or saying that his “Southern Conference total of the month is 60% lifetime”?

Basically, the bottom feeders of this industry can slice and dice their statistics all sorts of ways to make themselves seem “hot”. Or they can do what a lot of them do, and simply lie about their performance. When I was first starting out as a sports handicapper there was no such thing as the Internet (at least as it exists today) and I had to rely on a scorephone for line and score updates. This scorephone was sponsored by a group of touts not noted for their veracity, and you had to sit through a few pitches for their 900 numbers before you got to the scores. A bit of a Faustian bargain, to say the least, but it was an effective way of keeping up with scores in the pre-Internet dark ages.

So one night we’re at a party thrown by some kid that we didn’t like too much. My crew and I were racking our brains to think of some mean pranks to pull on the guy. Someone got the idea to rack up some 900# charges on our mark’s phone bill. Since there’s no such thing as 900# directory assistance, I resulted to the only 900# I could remember – one of the touts from the scorephone that had drilled his digits into my memory through the sheer force of repetition.

For the sake of argument, I decided to write down the tout’s NBA plays. I had less faith in his handicapping ability than I would in a prognostication based on a divining rod or Ouija Board, but since I wasn’t paying for the call I figured I’d just see how the guy did. I wrote down his plays and checked his performance the next morning.

To his credit, the tout went 5-3 on his 8 plays. By any criteria a 5-3 night is a solid performance. Later that day I called the scorephone and waited for the tout to start crowing about his 5-3 night. Much to my surprise, the tout didn’t say a word about his 5-3 night. That’s because he was too buy bragging about his mythical 7-1 performance the preceding day.

Now, I understand that the revelation that boiler room touts like about their performance is on par with “pro wrestling is fake” or “the games at the fair aren’t on the up-and-up” as self evident truths. The point I’m trying to make, however, is that the desire to be the “hot handicapper: is so great that the tout felt he had to embellish a solid performance the night before.

So despite the fact that some handicappers like about their performance, what’s wrong with trying to ride the hot handicapper? Plenty-it’s not only an ineffective way to evaluate a handicapper’s abilities, it also has a number of statistical and theoretical shortcomings.

The simplest way to explain what I’m talking about is to borrow a disclaimer that you’ll hear on every commercial for a mutual fund: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”. The sports gambling milieu, like those of stocks, commodities and other financial instruments, is a marketplace and subject to a number of the same tendencies of other financial institutions (what economists call “market dynamics”).

The fact that a sports wager’s success or failure is dependent to a degree on the “whims” of a marketplace (of odds and pointspreads) and to a greater degree on other external events outside of the bettor’s control exacerbates what is already a matter of simple logic: what a handicapper does over a period of time (be it a day, week, month or season) has no intrinsic correlation between a handicapper’s performance one year and the next. In other words, the sports gambling marketplace and the random patterns of events that act upon them don’t care if I hit 60% last year. If I don’t do my work, crunch the numbers, get good prices to bet into, and catch a few breaks along the way I may end up beaten regardless of how well I performed in a subsequent period of time.

Irrational Skepticism

Irrational skeptics look and sound much like rational skeptics, but they are spiritually akin to scamsters hype merchants, con-artistes and grifters. The dangers of the latter are rightly well established, the dangers of the former less well so, but they can have also have serious consequences for those who are genuinely and unambiguously interested in the search of truth.

Rational skeptics are by nature conservative, they require substantive proof that something works before accepting it. But, they have no agenda. They will be patient in examining something before dismissing it. If a method does pass rigorous analysis, they will take it on board and incorporate it into the broad body of mainstream accepted knowledge. They are the heroes of science and discovery.

By contrast, proving something to an irrational skeptic is almost impossible. They use a number of tricks which are essentially hostile to the critical analysis. In particular, they generally comment on matters they have no practical experience of. The motivation of the irrational skeptic is ego gratification rather than the search for truth (see point 4).

Here are some of the main tricks you should look out for. I admit I do not know them all, I just know a couple of hundred.

1) I think method A is absurd. Therefore it is absurd. Therefore I do not need to examine it.

2) Advocate of method A promotes a method I think is absurd, therefore he is absurd. Because promoter of method A is absurd, his method must be absurd. (Blur Circular Logic)

3) I do not need to attain practical experience of circumstances in which method A may be employed, because method A is absurd.

4) We should not consider the possibility that method A actually works, because it may harm the naive (Of course, irrational skeptics actually preach almost exclusively to the converted, to buy easy credibility. You will never find an irrational skeptic trying to talk a mark out of parting with their life-savings on some scam. What is the point? Who of the intellectual elite would know?)

5) If it is proven that method A is not absurd, to the extent that I no longer pretend otherwise without losing credibility (the Achilles heel among irrational skeptics), then I will say:

a) The method is unworkable under most practical circumstances.

and/or

b) The method is difficult for an ordinary person to exploit.

and/or

c) The potential gain or benefit is small for the effort expended.

Note: the above can be applied to almost anything. A strong case can be made for saying that b-c apply to many methods that are scientifically valid, for example. Because the definitions a-c are conveniently vague, the irrational skeptic can imply the practical value of method A is close to zero, whatever its actual value. Its impossible for an advantage play method to exist which does not meet one of these criteria, since it would be corrected by the market if one these factors did not apply.

6) Generally speaking, I will misquote advocate of method A, because I have not examined his sources properly, or because I wish to misrepresent the opinions of the advocate of method A. Once those perverted opinions are established in the public mind as fact, then debunking method A becomes simple.

7) Look at me.

8) I possess the superficial trappings of, though not the substance, of academia, therefore you should respect what I say. Because you respect what I say, accept that method A is invalid.

9) You should respect my opinion on the non-viability of method B, because I successfully debunked method A, etc etc ad infinitum.

The ultimate consequence of the behaviour of the irrational skeptic is a general dampening of progress in the field of knowledge, which has serious consequences for all of society.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Plastic Playing Cards!

I can remember the first day I used a deck of plastic playing cards at our weekly Thursday night poker game. I’ve heard that many people have loved plastic playing cards right off the bat and never looked back. Well let me tell you, I was not one of those people.

I picked up that deck and all I could think was, “Why are the cards so small? Why do they feel so weird? They’re so damned slippery, how am I ever supposed to get used to these?” I was relieved when the next week the game location had moved and we were back to our regular good old playing cards.

But little did I know the invasion had begun, and once it had started there was no stopping it. Soon we were using plastic playing cards every week. And slowly, without my knowing it, something strange began to happen. I got used to these new cards.

Maybe it was originally some sort of innate fear of change in all of us, who knows, but I began to appreciate plastic playing cards for what they were: far superior poker playing cards. The material makes it easy to shuffle and easier to deal. For those of us that bend our cards a bit much when we peek at our hole cards, plastic playing cards are our savior. And without ever having to worry about a card getting marked, or creased, or even warped when the eventual drink spillage occurs, it really makes for a much more enjoyable play. I was a believer.

Then came the fateful day when my new found devotion was put to the test. We had no plastic playing cards that day and had to go back to a regular deck. The cards felt all wrong, too heavy. They were stiff as a board and impossible to shuffle. They didn’t slide smoothly off the deck when I tried to deal. And we had to change decks at least two times throughout the night.

Never again I tell you, it was horrible. It’s like going back to 8-tracks once you’ve heard CDs. Or going back to VHS after watching a DVD. Why would anyone willingly put themselves through that kind of torture? So if you’re still not using plastic playing cards, give them a try. You’ll thank me in the end.