Does PokerStars manually control when the Big Deal jackpot is won?

(Update: the jackpot as of 12:30 GMT Friday,  January 27 is now over $470,000. Given that there now have been roughly 21.8 million losing entries, if the odds of the hitting the jackpot are truly 1 in 5,197,920, meaning that the jackpot wheel is fair, neither predetermined or unevenly weighted, we should have expected the jackpot to be hit 4 times by now. Stated in different terms, the probability of NOT hitting the jackpot after 21.8 million tries is roughly 1.5%. So in true PokerStars fashion, after just about one month since the introduction of “The Deal”, we are supposedly already hitting 66 to 1 long shots.)

Right after publishing the article on the expected value of The Deal, the jackpot has vaulted beyond the break-even point of $272,000 (at the time of writing this article, it stands at $307,000).

There is nothing in their rules stating the probability of spinning the jackpot, so far all we know it could be completely fixed.  But just to gauge the unlikelihood if the original assumption that every spot on the wheel has equal probability of getting hit, the odds of winning the jackpot per 7 StarsCoin is still 1 in 5,197,920.

For the current jackpot to be reached, given that 77% of $0.028 goes towards the progressive jackpot per 7 StarsCoin entry, there have been approximately at least 13,000,000 losing entries at the time of writing this article. This is well beyond the 5,197,920 expected average. (It should be noted there is no difference between entering with 70 StarsCoin versus playing 7 StarsCoin ten times in terms of probability of hitting the jackpot since adding the 36 straight flush possibilities in the 70 StarsCoin case increases the likelihood of a jackpot spin exactly ten times).

I suppose the jackpot could theoretically grow forever but the unlikelihood already of having a jackpot beyond the break-even point makes me wonder if the jackpot is manually controlled to encourage more people to spend their rakeback on a bad deal, since there is no indication anywhere on their Terms of Use or rules page denoting the exact probabilities of the wheel and the game itself.  Who knows, maybe the outcome of the cards in “The Deal” are controlled too.

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If you don’t like a rigged game, perhaps you’d enjoy playing instead at

5 thoughts on “Does PokerStars manually control when the Big Deal jackpot is won?”
    1. I never stated that The Deal was raked.

      However, the poker games themselves are raked, and you get StarsCoin back based on the amount of rake you contribute. A higher jackpot encourages you playing more raked games of poker in an attempt to earn more StarsCoin to spend on The Deal, and my previous post about the EV of The Deal shows that the house makes a lot more money when people spend their rakeback on The Deal rather than redeeming it for cash in the VIP Store. Only when enough suckers put in money into The Deal prior to the jackpot hitting the $272,000 break-even point does it become positive EV for the player, assuming fair distribution of the jackpot, but even then it does not impact the total bottom line for PokerStars (they are still keeping a fraction of $0.027 per 7 StarsCoin regardless).

      It’s looking more likely that either the jackpot wheel is unevenly weighted, or the jackpot slot on the wheel is manually controlled (that is, they are able to let the jackpot grow to whatever they please by setting its probability to zero until they want to release the jackpot). As of the time of this comment, there have been 21.8 million attempts without a single jackpot. We should have seen 4 jackpots on average if the jackpot had a fair probability. Of course, this could be a $1.5 billion PowerBall moment, and it could be completely by chance we have reached this stage, but I’m merely pointing out the possibility of a deceptive game, especially since nowhere in their rules do they give exact probabilities of the jackpot wheel (this also means that even third party investigators would have no benchmark to audit against and can’t outright say the game is imbalanced).

      I’d implore everyone to contact PokerStars and ask them to publish the probabilities of the jackpot wheel and the game itself.

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