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Online Poker Bots
7 April 2009, By Deter Reiter, Casinospage.com Staff Writer
It would be very hard to
argue that online poker has not been one of the killer
applications of the last five years. The industry
has experienced explosive growth in both player number
and amounts wagered at online poker rooms.
The phenomenal rise of
online poker is well documented. From humble
beginnings in 1998 and relatively modest growth, it
wasn't until aggressive operators like Pacific Poker and
Party Poker started to leverage WPT worldwide television
coverage that the juggernaut really took off. In
2003 player numbers and amounts bet increased 500% and
similar growth has continued.
Online poker has managed to
achieve a degree of mainstream credibility that the
online casinos, despite PwC and eCOGRA payout ratio
audits and all manner of assurances have struggled to
earn. Big name pros have signed up with poker
Full Tilt Poker
as sponsored players, giving regular Joes the
chance to play heads up against some of the greats.
Phil Helmuth, Jo Hashem, Phil Ivey, and Gus Hansen are
amongst a number of poker stars lending their
endorsement to online poker rooms.
One of the main attractions
of the online poker offering is that you are not playing
against a machine. When you play blackjack at an
online casino you are playing against a machine (unless
you are playing
live dealer games).
Sure outcomes are determined by a random number
generator and if the casino is a good one, RTP rates
will be audited and published by third party reviewers.
But it is still a machine. Online poker presented
an opportunity for players to play against other real
people, all be it via a virtual medium.
But the chatter in poker
rooms amongst seasoned players that bots are becoming
more prevalent is getting louder and louder. And
this could destroy the 'real player comfort' of many
What's a bot? It's a
computer program that plays the game in place of a real
player. That they have been around for a while now
is a certainty, but what is becoming a concern is that
they are becoming sophisticated enough to actually
consistently beat even experienced players. It
seems poker is a very complicated game to crack and
until recently, bots have been relative easy beats.
"In chess everything is
visible - one can see the board, there is no information
hidden except for the opponent's mind," says Ann
Nicholson of Monash University's IT faculty. "But in
poker, depending on the version, some of the cards are
hidden. There is uncertainty not just in the randomness
of the cards in the deck but also in what people have,
what actions they are going to take and what strategies
they are going to use."
The existence of
sophisticated bots and the extent of their use is
unknown. Clearly creators of brilliant poker
playing programs who are cleaning up at online poker
rooms are unlikely to advertise their success just yet.
But it is clear that online
poker room operators are going to have to be more and
more vigilant in detecting bots and blocking them from
their rooms. The last thing poker rooms want is a
wide spread belief amongst the playing public that super
bots are roaming online poker rooms ready to fleece them
of their cash with near unbeatable play.