Computer poker players are computer programs designed to play the game of poker against human opponents or other computer opponents. They are commonly referred to as pokerbots or just simply bots. It makes decisions, enters the stakes and press buttons for you. Most bots are extremely simple (looking to exploit beginner players who are likely to make stupid mistakes) while other bots are more complex and change their playing styles based on their opponents style of play. The biggest attraction of using a bot is that it can play tirelessly on a practically unlimited number of tables.
Poker bots are not new, but until recently they were not very good. Humans were better at the nuances of the game — at bluffing, for instance — and could routinely beat the machines. But artificial intelligence has come a long way in the last few years, far enough that poker bots are now good enough to win tens of thousands of dollars on major game sites. It has broken the belief that they can only operate at very low levels, against novice players.
The world’s biggest online poker room, PokerStars, recently confirmed that they are investigating a situation involving suspected cheaters using artificial intelligence while playing in mid-stakes pot-limit Omaha games. Internet detectives estimate that the suspected players, primarily from Russia and Kazakhstan, won almost $1.5 million at the $0.50/$1 and $1/$2 pot-limit Omaha tables.
The legality of Online Poker Bots
At most poker rooms, bots are illegal and you will most likely have your account banned if you are found to be using a bot. Although they are illegal, they can be found with relative ease on the Internet, with companies and individuals profiting much with programming of these applications.
The main goal of the prohibition of these bots is to keep the tables clean, to have an environment where players play against players and not against a machine. The point here is to keep intact the complexity of human behavior. But there is no universal poker bot regulation, and just minimal online poker legislation.
Some rooms such as PokerStars are very obsessed with poker bots. Others are more lenient and do not enforce a strict prohibition. So there is no law with respect to bots, it is just a question of each poker sites authorizing them or not, and how stringent they are with their enforcement and detection systems.
Every online poker room should be strongly opposed to poker bots at least on the surface, because online players do not want to play against disguised bots. They want to play against real humans with all their human weaknesses, not against emotionless machines that do not make errors.
No online poker site can openly say that they encourage bots, or they would suffer a tide of player withdrawals. On the other hand not all bots are invincible, but they all can contribute to table action. So some poker sites may see poker bots as just a subset of their player base bringing additional income, but they cannot be too public about that.
How to recognize a Poker Bot
First of all watch for Players that Never Sleep. The funny thing about computers is that, unlike you, they do not need sleep. If you notice a player on multiple tables at one time or playing at nearly every hour of the day then you can bet that it’s likely a bot. Players use these bots to play for them while they are resting in the real world. A poker bot is easy to identify because its plays seem effortless no matter how much is going on.
Look for Players with Minimal Interaction. When you play online poker, you will banter with other players. Poker bots are not programmed with a voice or emotion. They are unable to communicate with you or reciprocate your messages with anything more than basic answers. This can be the easiest way to tell if you are playing with a bot. Try to contact them and see what happens.
Look for Play Consistency. Another interesting fact about computer bots is that they are not programmed with the same variables as the human brain. As an online poker player you can see what
is happening in the game and make spur of the moment decisions based on that. A computer cannot. If you discover that one “player” makes the same moves in every game, it may be a poker bot. Bots are only able to make specific moves based on the pre-set variables programmed into its “brain”. Notice Players that Play Different Games Simultaneously. It’s hard enough to keep up with what’s happening at one table, let alone three or four. For a human, that is. Poker bots are able to seamlessly switch between different types of games online and never miss a beat. If you notice a player that is handling Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud without fail then this is an indicator that the player is in fact, a bot.
How to beat the poker bots
First, you must know when they bet, it will be always the same amount. Also the bots play ‘tight’ – minimising their risk by only playing very strong hands.
Second, when they play a hand, usually they will call to see the flop and then make a ‘continuation bet’. However, if another player responded by raising them, they would almost always fold – surrendering the pot to their opponent. So, the best strategy is to wait for the bots to enter a pot and then to respond to their bet with a raise. Also you can steal their blinds more often than in any other circumstances – human players usually are defeating their blinds, but the poker bot never do this. But, if the bot re-raise you, you must be sure that it has a very strong hand. Poker bots don’t bluff!