NY Times Rehashes Recent Poker Bot Issues

That poker bots continue to be an issue for poker rooms both large and small is not new news to online players. Back in the summer and fall of 2010, we reported on both PokerStars’ and Full Tilt’s poker bot woes. While both sites claim to have the issue under control, a recent NY Times article on the issue raises new questions about the security and fairness of poker sites.

To be fair, perhaps the biggest issue with poker bots is the sneaking suspicion that many poker rooms are aware of their presence but are doing nothing to deter their use. The poker bot designers are certainly not trying to hide their products. Indeed, Brian Jetter – cofounder of Shanky Technologies, the company behind the bots that were recently banned from Full Tilt – alleges in his NY Times interview that most poker sites willingly turn a blind eye to bot usage since they’re getting their share of the rake regardless of who wins the pots.

When considering the threat of poker bots one has to also consider their efficacy. According to poker site consultant Darse Billings, one reason that poker rooms may allow bots is the fact that “more than 90% are losing money.” Once again these kinds of statistics make a poker fan wonder if the software that is so readily accepted at most poker sites and that is far more effective thanks to the fact that it is helmed by a real live human isn’t more harmful to the concept of a level playing field.

The biggest threat of all could be the merger of these two shady poker playing techniques – bots that not only consider straightforward statistics but that also analyze opponent statistics and draw from both sources before making moves. While the best bots out there are currently one-off creations by more computer-oriented than card-oriented designers, it’s just a matter of time before the growing demand for technological advantages inspires the production and mass sale of poker bots capable of more strategic artificial intelligence.

Perhaps the bigger question is if poker bots are really public enemy number one. After all, the super user scandal that occurred at Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet several years ago fleeced players of far more money than has thus far been pegged to poker bots. Furthermore, a number of recent high profile live poker tournaments have been plagued with allegations of collusion and information sharing. These issues also remain hot topics in online poker, as does the excessive usage of poker software that operates on the same technology as bots. When it comes to inhuman advantages, players that still rely on skill alone to win their hands must be wondering…Where will the poker sites draw the line?

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