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Poker Bots an Increasing Problem on Online Poker Sites

14 March 2011 by admin

How many ‘Terminator’ fans do we have out there? You all know what happens when robots get out of hand. While the poker bots that are becoming increasingly frequent on online poker sites they are, thankfully, not to the caliber of the terminators that plagued John Conner. Bu they have improved over the last few years.

It used to be that online poker players still had the edge on the bots, short for robots. Players had the skills to bluff, for example, that the bots could not compete with. But technology for artificial intelligence is drastically increased in the last few years—why has no one learned anything from the ‘Terminator’ movies, do we really want artificial intelligence? The increase in such technology has lead to an increase in the ‘skills’ of online poker bots, and has thusly lead to an increase in bots being used on online poker sites. Even major sites, such as PokerStars and Full Tilt have their hands fairly full in finding and squashing bots.

“PokerStars is continuing to invest substantial resources to combat bots. When a player is identified as a bot, PokerStars removes them from our games as soon as possible,” said Michael Josem, who is a security manager at the popular online poker site. He went on to discuss how when a bot is discovered and the account shut down, the winnings are taken from that account and that PokerStars will compensate players as best they can when it is appropriate.

But do not fear, online poker players. While poker bots are getting better and while some can out-play players, they are not overall a strong force. Darse Billings who is a consultant to PokerStars and Full Tilt, and who is also the former chief of date analytics at Full Tilt, said, “The large majority of bots are very bad. More than 90 percent are losing money.”

But the bad 90 percent aside, there are still enough decent bots out there to have major online poker sites devoting a significant chunk of their security and data teams to finding and investigating bots. In 2008, after being tipped off by a player, PokerStars found 10 online poker bots and wound up returned $57,000 to various players who had lost money to the bots.

It is said by some that the building of bots is merely an intellectual exercise for programmers—a hobby if you will. To them it is a challenge to build a bot to function as a human in set environment. Do not worry, the programmer down the aisle from you is not building a terminator in his garage.

But there are some out there who are looking to profit from others’ greed. Brian Jetter is a co-founder of a company who sells online poker bots. He admits that online poker sites have taken $50,000 from his customers who have purchased an online poker bot from his company; he also admits that the $50,000 is a conservative number.

But knowing that 90 percent of online poker bots will lose money, why would someone buy one? Maybe they hope that their bot will fall into the 10 percent of decent bots. Truth be told, such bots are usually found to be the product of programmer research facilities—exercises for high level programming students. So the likelihood of owning a bot that will lose money for you seems kind of pointless. Not to mention that online poker sites’ security teams will be looking for you, and they will take your winnings if you are caught. It just seems like a bad bet all around.

Now if you are playing on an online poker site and notice something funny about a player you are playing against, go to the site’s customer support and security teams and report the strange behavior. Players reporting on bots helps online poker sites shut down bots faster and more easily.

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