The Luck of the Draw and the Skill of the Player
We have released Episode 3 of Inside PokerStars, and it's one that many fans (and a few sceptics) have been waiting for: we look at how PokerStars produces a fair and random shuffle.
Lee Jones, one of our in-house poker evangelists, took on the task of explaining how our random number (RNG) generator works and how players can have confidence in every virtual deck of cards we deal.
As Lee notes, the fairness of the deal is core to every poker game. So I suppose it's not surprising that people question it. However, it's curious to note that the same players who unquestionably trust PokerStars with their bankroll will question whether the shuffle is truly fair and random the minute their opponent makes that flush or flops a straight.
We talk a lot about poker as a skill game - and it certainly is. That can make it harder to admit when luck plays a factor...especially when it's bad luck of the draw. Bad beats are very hard for some players to emotionally reconcile; they are the most frequent cause for customers to question the shuffle.
At PokerStars we really have no vested interest in who wins or loses any particular hand or tournament. We look at the bigger picture. We make sure that the fundamentals of the game are in place: a fair shuffle and the uncompromising integrity of those who deal it. Poker naturally provides swings, outdraws and coolers. It's why most of us fall in love with the game in the first place. Our job is to protect the game and to protect your money, which we do day-in and day-out. But no one can protect you from bad beats. Nor can anyone protect other players when you suck out on them. That's poker.
We don't expect you to just take our word for it. The PokerStars RNG is audited and certified each and every year by Cigital, a leading IT security consulting firm. Hardware, software and source code have all been given the Cigital stamp of approval that they produce an entirely random shuffle.
It's not in our interest to rig the deck: not commercially, not ethically, not culturally. To put it clearly, if we were caught rigging the deck we would lose our regulatory licenses and be out of business. It is very much in our interest to keep things fair and to continue to provide the best, most trusted poker site in the world.
Eric Hollreiser is Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars.