Artificial intelligence is perhaps one of the most significant technological advances of our time. Applied to medicine or software development, it can be of tremendous benefit to humankind. Unfortunately, for some industries, it can also pose a risk to business sustainability.

This is the case in the online poker industry, in which the so-called ‘bots” — robots that play without human intervention — or ‘real-time assistance' tools, are an exponentially growing threat. Why? Because people are using this advanced software to cheat at real money games.

Although one may think that having 24/7 players at the tables is a good thing for business, this is a short-term view because, in the long term, real players will leave the games.

Bots: a threat to online poker

Many experienced players will notice that something is going wrong with the game. However, even if you spot a poker cheater, it would be just one case at one table, but remember that sometimes large sites hosts hundreds of simultaneous games. To keep games clean, these companies run sophisticated algorithms and employ a team of experts to constantly monitor all games.

But why are these ‘bots‘ a threat to a global industry? There are many reasons:

  • Nobody wants to play against a robot for real money. Even if you can beat it, it's frustrating to challenge your skills against a machine.
  • Poker is a game of skill that can be ‘solved' in the long term with advanced calculations.
  • Casual players are vital to the industry and are continually crushed by robots. Without the influx of fresh money, the industry will simply die.

Robots have already ‘killed' online chess, so we can conclude the threat is real.

What is the poker industry doing to fight artificial intelligence? We already said that poker rooms used advanced techniques to fight bots:

  1.  A ‘game integrity' team, usually composed of experienced players, monitors games, and gives input on algorithm development. They are also in charge of reviewing player complaints.
  2. A robot can be spotted at the tables because it uses a betting pattern. It always takes the same time to make a decision, follows pre-made charts, etc. Hence, another artificial intelligence tool can be used to detect suspicious behaviors at the tables.
  3. Restrictions on third-party software (automated seating tools, trackers, etc.), anonymous games, and other gaming client changes, such as altering graphics or reducing decision time.

What can a player do to avoid it?

The best decision a player can make to avoid playing against robots is to choose trusted poker rooms that will take action against them. No one can guarantee that the tables will be 100%-bot free, but you can rest assured that some companies that have been in business for over 20 years, take the problem seriously and invest money and human resources to keep the games clean.

You can also help the operator by reporting any suspicious behavior you find at the tables; this is sure to help stop the cheater and include your observations in anti-robot tools.

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