Since their evolution, their very name sends shivers down even the most experienced players’ spines. This is because they can not only beat you through some agonisingly painstaking computer programming, but the very individual who set up the bot to defeat you could be nowhere to be seen.
They could be enjoying a coffee in the city, while back at home you are being crushed at online gaming by an artificial device. But to understand these devices, and the humans who operate them,we must first look back at the history of such bots.
Instead of returning to the very beginnings of poker bots, we will simply rewind to around the year of 2008, when the bots actually improved to a threatening standard. Long since had players embraced the ability to play with bots due to their inability to sustain winning patterns or even play to a respectable level, but for every hundred failed strategies, bot operators were now finally cracking the code. In 2008 a crackdown begun on the money hording schemes* from professional operators, before in 2009 it was revealed just how lucrative a sub-career** in bot operation could be for someone in the know-how.
Nowadays, the poker bots are a lot more easy to track, given their history within the game and the fact that people often communicate through the chat tools, something that a Poker Bot will notoriously avoid. Monitoring a certain player’s betting movements whilst also observing his communication in the chat window can be tricky, especially when focusing on your own game play, but many players have successfully sussed out which players are man and which are machine by doing so; albeit by trial and error. Several players have been mistaken for bots, simply for not speaking and performing well at their respective online poker tables, although a calling card of the best poker players is to simply concentrate on their own successes or failures.
Although, saying this, with several different strategies to implement within a bot, they can still prove successful in the long term and it is unquestionable that people that have the knowledge and the skill will still be thrusting their A.I devices onto the online casino floors today, no doubt pointing to the relative lack of risk compared to other casino strategies such as card counting.
If using the card counting strategy, it is likely that you will do this within a real-life casino, which would mean a lengthy ban and a spot on the casino blacklist, should you get caught. With the use of bots however, it is not illegal, it is simply prohibited in casino’s terms and conditions, meaning they can only seize winnings and/or ban you from their site, while refunding affected players if it’s possible to do so. With the ample choice of casino sites across the web today, it is inconceivable that you won’t be playing on a different site within a matter of minutes.
Whether you are for or against the bots, with the people in favour likely the ones using them, they are more or less here to stay given the difficulty in finding them. So buck up your ideas, put your poker faces on and simply do your best to combat them in the virtual world, or simply head to a real casino, but that could be too much effort, right?
Gabriel Dance, New York Times, March 2011
Robert Blincoe, The Guardian, February 2009
Brandley Railly. Titan Poker, November, 2013
University of Alberta, 2008