A recent report by the New York Times has highlighted the growing trend in poker robots being used in a number of online poker rooms.
Although ‘bots’ have been banned by many online poker rooms, they are still available for sale on various websites allowing players to link a bot to their online poker account and make decisions for them.
While bots have been a problem for online poker in the past, they have never been very good. Their ability to read the nuances and variables involved in poker was limited. While they could calculate pot odds and the percentages involved in drawing certain cards, their ability to read opponents for bluffs and other disinformation was limited. Whereas a chess computer can read all the information it requires from the board, most information at a poker table is unknown (opponent’s cards, what the river will be).
However, with improved artificial technologies making their way into the marketplace bots are a bigger threat than ever. Players can program their bots to play in a certain style leaving human players at the table none the wiser. They have been used mainly to target online cash games, where they can play a number of tables at once, only play premium hands and leave when a predetermined profit has been reached.
However there is resistance to bots coming from the major poker rooms. Last July Pokerstars banned the use of bots and suspended the accounts of players involved. Full Tilt Poker followed suit in October and also seized $50k from the accounts of offending players.
Unlike computers used to simulate chess, or even Watson, the supercomputer that was once a carryover champ on Jeopardy, poker bots are operating in a highly lucrative market and defrauding honest players.
As the online poker industry expands and artificial intelligence continues to grow at an exponential rate, bots will become harder to spot and play with more human like characteristics.