Poker Bots: Are They More Intelligent Than You?
If you like online poker, you may have bumped into poker bots. There is a pertinent question in the community regarding their unfairly high level of intelligence. In this article, we will shed light on the topic.
There is no doubt about it – poker is a highly fun and engaging game that has its basics in a combination of skill and luck. When playing online poker, nothing is guaranteed, or that is how it should be – thrilling until the last cards fold up.
However, the rise of smart internet technology has been astounding over the last few years, and this has had an ambiguous impact on online poker sites.
Foul play’s morale has spawned various tracking software applications and automated bots that disrupt games’ fairness. While cheating methods, such as tracking software, have been a known issue in the past, poker bots are taking things to a new level. As a player, you don’t want to be sitting at the table with bots who have one hand in the game and another playing superhuman tricks on you.
While some one-armed bandit offer fun and leisure, poker bots can heavily tinker with the natural flow of poker. Here we will outline what they are, how they operate in online poker games to give you an idea of whether they are smarter than you think.
The Rise of Bots – What Is Their Role in an Online Poker Game?
When it comes to winning real money, online poker can get very competitive. Players who do not have adequate skills or moral standards lean on cheating tactics.
Poker bots are essentially computers that are programmed to use advanced mathematics and collect specific player knowledge to help in winning. A player can have a bot running in the background or a standalone program that operates in the online poker client.
Poker bots track all the moves that competing players make and collect these into a database. Thus, competitors’ behavior can be calculated to some degree – their inclinations, habits, and so on.
To run a bot is very simple and does not require intricate computer knowledge or hacking skills. They come in the form of programs that are easy to install and launch.
If a person decides to play in online poker tournaments and have a bot running to help them, it still does not guarantee that they will win. It just gives them a substantial advantage.
Many of the best online poker sites have declared war on poker bots and started banning suspicious accounts actively. These online poker leagues do not give their identification methods away, they do not say much about how they find bots, but they claim their detection rate to be 95% accurate.
That still leaves 5% in operation, in the best-case scenario. The number of poker bots running errands on top online poker sites is likely to be a lot higher.
Even though much effort is needed to eliminate these cheating methods, there is no real guaranteed way to stop them in their tracks.
As poker bots can significantly help make money in online poker easier, the incentive is high for hackers to come up with advanced bot technologies. Even though the detection mechanisms are progressing, so are the bots.
How Do Bots Work?
When poker bots were emerging, they did not pose great threats to players who knew how to play well. Beating them was not much of an issue. However, the programming behind bot behavior has had a lot of time to advance.
Fast forward to the present, and we see modern bots being able to perform complex mathematical calculations, as well as create and constantly interact with an established database.
This can potentially hold the knowledge of observed player behavior and the perfect responses to pre-calculated scenarios. This results in artificial intelligence that has the best online poker strategy and moves at its fingertips almost instantly.
As mentioned before, poker bots can be run as programs that emulate a player in-game, or as a software that is launched and kept operating in the background.
If a player chooses the latter, along with the poker client, adequate detection is incredibly hard to achieve.
While you may not be encountering a bot who is virtually sitting in at an online table, you could be facing one that operates in the background, supplying a user with all its knowledge.
A human may be clicking, but a bot could still be telling them how to win online poker games, increasing the chances of a cheater’s success significantly.
Taken further, the bot could even be running on a secondary device, making the identification of cheaters almost impossible with conventional, automated ways of detection mechanisms.
Ever-Growing Intelligence and the Threat It Brings
The success of bot intelligence in calculating poker hands accurately is not merely theoretical at this point. The Annual Computer Poker Competition that took place in 2016 was won by a bot named Baby Tartanian 8.
This shocked the poker community significantly because the bot managed to win in No-Limit poker, which is notoriously difficult to predict. Because of players’ ability to make moves with each new turn of hands, all-in raises, and fluctuating betting values, the calculations that need to be made to keep up with a game are staggering.
The Baby Tartanian 8 was crowned to be the best poker bot invented. However, just a year later, a new iteration of poker bot intelligence surprised everybody once again. The AI named Libratus was placed against four of the top poker players in the world. It managed to keep up with them in a head-to-head race, eventually coming out of the games with more than $1.7 million in won profits. Needless to say, it was a cornerstone in poker AI technology.
No bot had previously managed to play that well in one-on-one matchups, especially against the world’s top players. This event caused great concern. Even though the bot won in head-to-head games, it was impressive. However, no one believed that poker bots could advance to a stage where they could adequately manage to calculate the odds of a multiplayer scenario.
Two years later, in 2019, another bot came around named Pluribus. When it was placed against five other human players, it managed to come out with a 5$ profit per played hand. This is considered a huge amount in poker circles. Pluribus proved what was thought to be impossible – be successful in a group of 6 players.
The complexity of odds that needs to be dealt with, though significant, was overcome. Scientists engineered it, so it should be noted that the average poker player may not have access to such high technology. The possibility, however, exists. We have established that poker bots are hard to detect, but with capabilities such as those of Pluribus, the results of misuse could be drastic for the poker community.
It is one thing for those who enjoy online poker for fun and relaxation, but when the stakes reach as high as tens of millions of dollars, the threat of poker bots is drastic. Especially for players operating at the top of the online poker rankings, it caused big concern. When so much money is in the question of being lost to AI, people are inclined to find answers as quickly as they can.
What Is the Solution?
High-level online poker bots surely pose a threat to gaming integrity, but they are costly to develop. Not only is it expensive to create a bot that can keep up with five other pro players, but it requires a level of artificial intelligence expertise that is rare to find.
The smartest ones that have been developed are in the hands of world-class experts. It may seem like wishful thinking, but one can hope that scientists give a sufficient level of integrity so that AI can be used haphazardly by whoever would like.
The best online poker apps and websites have banned a lot of entry-level poker bots, so everything that can be done to stop AI abuse is being tried. Still, there is no real way to make sure people won’t cheat with personal bots running in the background.
What can be done and needs to be encouraged is sharing the information between poker players. Any fraudulent behavior in-game should be reported immediately. The poker community coming together against AI bots is the only practical way to protect the game’s integrity. While it is not an easy task to spot poker bots operating, they do have a vulnerability.
Most of them share the same data system on which they calculate their decisions. If a bot abuses certain move-predicting information, there is a possibility to trace the initial data reserve that is shared between the AI. However, this requires a high level of poker insight, as well as insider knowledge.
That means that it is up to the high-level poker players to come together and be active with sharing information on suspicious playing behaviors. Aside from the professional bot detection technology developed by poker services, united efforts against poker bots are the only thing to free online poker from cheating.
How to Spot an Online Poker Bot
Some general examples to look out for would be repetitive behavior. This includes the same amount of time in between decisions, as well as identical bet sizes. You could also try to test a suspicious player by engaging in chat. If there is no reply, coupled with other hints, you might have spotted an online poker bot in operation. Granted, these tips apply to very primitive programs.
Even those are being adjusted to keep their operations at least a little varied. Even though it’s not a perfect detection system, it can serve as a general guideline to watch for the more primitive versions of AI located in-game.
Will Poker bots Destroy the Integrity of Online Poker as We Know It?
Now you know that online poker bots are smart enough to pose a threat to the integrity of the game, if not completely destroy it.
One cannot predict what will happen in the future of online poker, but it should be noted that high profile online poker sites are aware that poker bots are being used more and more.
They are spending significant amounts of money on finding a solution to weeding out and banning them.
All in all, there is hope that online poker services will catch up with identifying poker bots. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that humans invented AI, and pro players are smart in their own right.
Online poker no deposit has always had its risks, but the game still prevails and finds a lot of interest. We hope that adequate security systems will develop in time to stop cheating technologies from taking over the poker industry.
What are your thoughts on online poker bots and their use? Have you encountered any in your experience? Aside from that, if you have any additional online poker tips to spot AI behavior, please share them in the comments below. We are excited to hear your thoughts and opinions on the matter!