Poker Bots

Could Poker Bots Destroy Online Poker?

Before reading this article, let me define what the term poker bot means.  A poker bot is a sophisticated card playing robot ("bot" for short) created using a computer program that gives its controller an unfair mathematical advantage during an online poker game.

It is not a secret nowadays that online poker has experienced a nearly exponential growth since 2003.

What was the single thing that triggered this worldwide phenomenon and what's making it tick the way it does today?

Television!  With its almighty grasp of viewers minds, it is a reasonable suspect in having started the phenomenon in the first place. Televised poker games (WSOP, WPT live coverage) have turned the game into a miniature adrenaline rush, and in the same time made a believer out of every viewer. Success stories such as Chris Moneymaker's, who became a millionaire out of a virtual nobody over night, thanks to poker, have served to fuel the public's already vivid imagination.

Yes sir, the age of online poker is upon us, but... is it here to stay?

There'd only be one way to effectively put an end to the worldwide hysteria surrounding online poker, and that would be to cut its lifeline, its very supply of fresh blood, the single biggest factor that makes it what it is today: the seemingly endless supply of fish.

I'm not talking about the fish that live in the rivers and oceans, (online poker would probably survive their complete extinction without breaking a sweat) but rather, about the kind of fish one can find around a poker table, in an online poker room.

Most people who see the game on TV and then decide it might be something for them, consider themselves experts from the moment they learn the rules of the game. These people will become the fish, and they will make up around 90% of all Poker players online. The poker industry is not thriving on the backs of the handful of sharks who play their game to near-perfection and actually earn a living doing this, but rather on these other guys, the silent majority who keep donating for the cause day after day and who never stop believing for a second that their big break is just around the corner...

Make these guys disappear and online poker dies. Simple as that.

What on earth could have such on impact on the public that it would stop the flow of fish toward the online poker tables? The answer: the very thing that made its world-wide spread possible: the computer (more specifically Poker Bots.

Many people (some of them online gambling security experts) believe that the concept of a "fair online poker game" is and has always been a dream stemmed from the wishful thinking of millions of money-hungry players. They consider that "fair online poker" is a contradiction in terms, since there's no way for anybody to control what a player does with the information he sees on his computer screen for the following 10 or 30 seconds.

According to these experts, poker bots are an increasing occurrence at online poker tables world over. Software specifically programmed to calculate poker odds and probabilities and take the right action in the right circumstances is obviously more than a match for the fish as well as for reasonably good players. Fish will flock to the tables as long as they believe they get a fair game, however that might change if botting ever gets out of control.

The fact that many experts consider botting a major threat to the industry, doesn't necessarily mean that this is the thing that will bleed online poker to death. According to others, poker bots are still in their infancy, and they have a lot of distance to cover before becoming anything close to a real threat. I've even heard players say they'd like to play a bot and take its money away.

Fortunately, online poker rooms will always have the financial means to develop anti-botting systems capable of busting the most advanced poker bots.

The basic human need to gamble will most likely prevail, and as long as there's but a slim chance that they're not cheated when playing online poker, rookies and long-time fish alike will continue to crowd the tables.