I’ve witnessed some ridiculous river catches on RP too… but not at unrealistic rates that make me doubt the impartiality of the RNG. Rather, it’s because of two common poor plays that I’ve recognized and begun to exploit.
To start, people don’t bet nearly aggressively enough when they have strong hands. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people “trap” aces by flatting preflop, then merely min-bet (or, worse, check-call!) on later streets. If your opponent has a strong draw, like four cards to a flush or straight, those actions give them direct odds or better to catch an unbeatable hand for free/cheap. Bet/raise your strong hands, and either those opponents will fold off their equity, or you’ll get a lot of value in the long run from people who make the second type of poor play.
Worse than the lack of aggression is a willingness to call just about anything, particularly early in a hand. This isn’t just an issue at the lowest stakes either. To provide an example, I’m currently sitting at a 500-1000 ring, the Acropolis of Athens 9, with 7 other players. We’re all ranked above 10000, and about half of the players are ranked better than me, with bankrolls at least 5M chips.
In this hand, I was the only player to fold pre-flop, which I did holding QT offsuit in the Hi-Jack. Chances are that most of the players that called had worse hands than that… but odds are also good that at least one of those players is much, much stronger than me. Those weak players that are going to have to fold on most boards are over-committing their equity, putting in more chips than their chance to win the pot. When they do, I’ll happily be there to scoop up those bloated pots.
The next hand at that same table is another great example. I’m in an early position, UTG+2, facing an UTG flat and UTG+1 fold. I raise it up to 4BB (4000 chips). I get four callers. The flop ends up being perfect for me to continue to bet, about 2/3 pot, with three spades on the board and As in my hand. Most of the field wisely folds, but I manage to get an out-of-position caller. That player finally folded to another bet on the turn (was setting up a river jam with the nuts if another spade rolled off, or a bluff if it didn’t), and the hand ultimately netted me about 30BB. Their willingness to call (likely) weak hands preflop and ultimately fold them cost three players 3-4BB, and a fourth about 17BB.
By playing aggressively when I have equity, and folding when I don’t, it makes it far less likely that my competitors with low equity will end up hitting miracle rivers. Either they’ll fold before they get the chance to see those later streets, or they’ll pay me off on earlier streets and have to fold on bad rivers.