Attack of the Poker Robots
March 2, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — The online poker chestnut 'pokerbots' surfaced in the U.K. press again over the weekend as The Times carried a short story in which a botmaster claimed to earn up to £50,000 a year deploying remote softwares on small stakes and multi-table games.
The article was questioned by some readers, who pointed out that bots are only really good playing Limit games due to pure mathematical probability. "In No-Limit games I believe there are no bots which can match the ability of a human player, as they have no spontaneity nor ability to use positional advantage at the table," one critic posted.
Another reader opined that the only source quoted in the newspaper's story was actually a forum post — and a "spam" one at that — and therefore hardly authoritative. "Such software is hardly as popular or reliable as suggested here," the reader suggested, adding: "These non-news items on 'poker bots' pop up every 3-4 mos. or so, it seems. Perhaps a bot is writing them!"
The article reports that poker bots are earning their human masters up to £50,000 a year by playing dozens of low-stakes games at once on the internet. "The U.K. is enjoying an online poker boom, with almost 1m Britons expected to take part this year. An increasing number of them will be using robots," the author claims.
The software can be bought for as little as £25, but many of the poker sites have rules banning bots and employ security teams dedicated to detecting them.
The article quotes one bot master who claims he can earn £40 an hour using poker bots. "I use software that plays poker for me in six different rooms and I’m raking in the dough,” he said in a posting on Cardschat, an online forum for players. “Do you think that's evil or genius? The software does lose, but I’ve never seen any playing like it. Bottom line: not only does it work, but I'm entertained watching it.”
The Times recaps the events of 2007, when researchers from Alberta University in Canada deployed a bot player against poker ace Phil Laak, in which Laak won overall. In the following year the same scientists repeated the exercise using a bank of bots known as Polaris against several professional players and the robots were victorious.