Recently, a well-known and respected online poker site was charged with allegations of game manipulation, which affected players on these sites in adverse ways. After some legal and commissioned scrutiny into the matter, it was determined that this site had insiders create accounts, that enabled them to see their opponents' hands, thus creating an unfair advantage.
The affected site had a disgruntled (or at minimum, a disingenuous) former employee create what is known as a "Super User" account at their site. This account, as the name implies, enabled its user to "see" all of the hands of his / her opponents, when in a poker room. Obviously, this allowed this user to fold when it was necessary to do so, and bet aggressively, when the hand they held dictated a reason to do so.
Players that played in the rooms of this Super User, started smelling a rat, when the user would never lose, and would repeatly win hands, even when others in the room had strong hands. These players wound up reporting their findings on poker forum bulletin boards initially, and also presented the facts to the poker rooms' management staff as well. After the gaming missions that sanctioned this site began investigating the situation, the poker rooms' management admitted that a former employee, had in fact, created this account, and had used it inappropriately for self-gain.
As it turns out, the online poker site had enabled an administrative procedure to permit such accounts to be created, for the purposes of testing their software. Unfortunately, the wrong disingenuous person got his hands on this functionality. The online poker site combed through all of their hand histories, where this illegal player was playing, and reimbursed all players who were adversely effected by these improper acts.
As a result of this escapade, online players have started to question the merits of online poker sites, and whether game play is fair or whether it is unfairly manipulated. It is this author's belief that online poker is on the up-and-up for the most part, but there is always the chance for unscrupulous activity, as with any other business. Here are some comforting ideas, in support of the merits of online poker:
Regulation abound - Many of the most popular and reputable sites are regulated (in their jurisdiction) by reputable gaming agreements. These responsibilities have strict rules and accounting principles that must be adhered to, or the site runs the risk of losing their license. Routinely, these gaming missions audit the online poker sites' systems, and look for abnormalities. Moreover, some of the world's most famous online poker sites are public companies, that are held accountable in additional public manners.
Random function - Every reputable poker site's card generation software is implemented using computer software's "random" function. This function, implemented in most computer programming languages today, uses an algorithm, that legitimately randomizes the selection of a card. These random functions are the same used by randomized lottery systems.
Players on the lookout - Many players that participate in online poker, are always on the alert for any "strange" functional behavior of the poker site. Anything discovered can immediately be reported to the poker site's management team and the governing gaming commission. Also, with the creation of hundreds of poker forums on the internet, issues like these are discussed in detail, among the community of internet poker players. This helps to create a checks-and-balances philosophy between the user community and the poker sites themselves.
Reputation - The popular and reputable poker sites can not afford to cheat or have allegations of cheating associated with their site. A bad reputation means instant loss in credibility, which will severely impact the site's bottom line. Credible poker sites can not afford the stigma associated with cheating.
Software - Keep in mind that a poker site's functionality is only as good as its design and implementation and testing of its software engineers. Poor design will lead to poor game results, which leads extremely to a tarnished reputation for the poker site. Quality poker sites spend lots of time and money on developing their software or licensing their software from reputable software development houses.
In summary, it is paramount in importance to patronize reputable and licensed online poker sites, that exhibit the quality and characteristics noted above. Although there is no 100% guarantee that your poker experience will be legitimate, the odds of this are certainly in your favor, when you patronize a reliable and reputable site.