Someone has been able to play on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet while knowing the hole cards of their opponents. This has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Both of the online poker rooms where the cheating has been proven are owned by Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG and regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake in Quebec Canada.
The online poker rooms, and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission have been impotent in investigating the cheating over the past six months.
The cheating has been allowed to continue facilitated by some combination of incompetence and assistance within those poker rooms.
A detailed summary, including all available documentation and statistical proofs can be found here.
Is online poker rigged?
I’ve always told people that online poker was almost certainly fair. The simple fact is that there is much more money to be made in running a fair room then there is in cheating.
You see a lot more “action flops” online not because the decks are stacked to induce rake, but because you see more hands in a given amount of time and your memory is subject to the availability bias.
There is no “doom switch” flipped after you cash out. That’s a result of cashing out after a good run and then experiencing a regression to the mean.
Collusion may be a problem. Online poker rooms have the tools to stop collusion, but need to be more skilled than the colluders to be effective. Contrast this with a live card room, where simple collusion techniques can be impossible to identify.
So how did this happen?
Running a fair room is in the best interest of the company, but not necessarily in the best interest of everyone at the company. So if there is cheating, you can be certain that not all shareholders are involved and splitting the profits equally.
And while it would be in the best interest of the company to design software and procedures to make cheating virtually impossible, there is no accounting for incompetence.
What about the regulators?
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is toothless. To be honest I’m not surprised.
These Kahnawake Gaming Commission answers to no one other than the online casinos they license. The people of the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake have little incentive to make sure the gaming commission regulates effectively. The province of Quebec, and the government of Canada have no incentive.
And since there is no competition in hosting, regulating, and licensing online casinos and poker rooms, they will continue to be hosted, regulated, and licensed by the Kahnawake.
So is online poker rigged?
No. But there is cheating going on. There are players on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet who can see their opponents hole cards.
There is collusion going on. It’s impossible to say how much, or how effective any site is at finding or stopping it. There is little incentive for them to do so. But that is no different from your live card rooms where collusion can be impossible to stop.