Sophisticated card-playing robots – known as “poker bots” – have now been playing online for years and the trend is accelerating. The increasing activity on poker bots forums and the growing interest generated by the annual poker bot competition (organized by the University of Alberta) are prime indicators of this trend.
Of course, online poker rooms have been fighting bots since the beginning as it hurts their revenues but, detecting bots is becoming more challenging every day as bots improve their counter-detection measures. While Full Tilt, one of the leading online poker rooms, recently successfully detected a network of bots (and redistributed the seized bankrolls, thousands of dollars, to the fooled human opponents), it only shows the tip of the iceberg.
This increasing presence of online poker bots proves, if still needed, that it is a very lucrative business to be in. But how are poker bots raking online money? In other words, how come poker bots are so successful against human players?
Thomas Kessler, founder of www.MyPokerCoach.net (a free Poker coaching service based on a leading bot), explains what makes poker bots so strong:
In the long run, poker bots are winning against humans and this can easily be explained by a number of bots’ intrinsics:
- Analytical power: bots have, already today, a massive amount of analytical power and it is going to further double every two years as computers become more powerful. Our bot, for instance, simulates ~5 million situations at the Flop in less than a second to perfectly assess the current hand strength and the possible outcomes. Something a human player will obviously never match.
- Lifelong memory: can you remember how the opponent sitting next to you last month was playing? Bots have a memory that will never fail. They can remember all their opponent’s previous actions and playing style. In our case, we store all the observed moves (even if our bot isn’t in the hand) in a large database and, next time we play against the same opponent – even in 3 years, we already know his playing style.
- Discipline: most humans are open to emotions and are sometimes looking for adrenaline in a game. Bots are disciplined and will, for instance, never go on a tilt. Discipline is key in poker and always pays off in the long run.
- Game richness: there are many great poker strategy books out there but most players remember less than 20% of it and they often over-use the few strategies they remember. Bots can learn a large set of strategies and only apply them when most appropriate.
- Patience: who likes to fold 80% of his hands without seeing the Flop? Bots will only play hands that should be played, even if they’ll have to spend most of their time watching opponents playing (and collecting information on their playing style).
When asked what human players can do to defeat bots, Thomas says: to increase your chances against bots you should definitely train yourself with them to learn their play pattern (www.MyPokerCoach.net genuinely provides a free poker bot) and you should frequently change your online ID so that bots can’t rely on their historic database when playing against you.
So, next time you play online, ask yourself if you’re ready to play against bots!