Raise Or Fold

When you hit the top of the online poker software pyramid, the pinnacle is the “poker bot”.

Whether you call it Automatic Poker-Playing Software, Automatic Players, Poker Cheats, Auto-Players or Computer Opponents, you’re still talking about the Bot (Poker Bot). Using an algorithm that determines the best odds and hand play, the poker bot will take your place at the poker table and play for you! The very advanced poker bots even have an AI component that allows it to develop its game and adjust to various styles of play it encounters. It’s a little scary. The real question: is it cheating? And the answer is that it depends on your point of view. On one camp, there are those who claim that it’s basically a computer playing – killing the life of the game – and hiding under the human avatar or login username (not to mention the right vs. wrong argument).

Some who approve see poker as more than cold, calculated statistical play. After all, even in online poker, you gotta try to bluff occasionally and “steal” a pot or two. Even the best poker bots can’t do that. There are just too many factors to guarantee that poker bots will win all the hands all the time. And as we all know, even the best computers in the work can’t replace man’s (or woman’s) brain!

I personally subscribe to the latter belief. I view bots as a tool just like anything else. The biggest disadvantage that bots have is that they can’t accurately read a “bluff” or adjust to player strategy and intentional variations in style of play. Bots also have to beat the rake as well as their opponents. So for these reasons, I don’t think bots offer an unfair advantage. And of course I think using them levels the playing field as many, many other players routinely use bots.

Finally, I look to the chess comparison. The best computer software can analyze every possible move at every stage of a chess game. In theory, a computer should always be able to reach the “correct” move in response to the opponent’s move at every turn of the game. And this is due to the fact that all the information is on the board – nothing is hidden. In poker, you NEVER know what your opponents’ cards are. Even the biggest computer with Star Trek-like AI cannot accurately determine the right action or certainty of play. Therefore, it will always remain a matter of chance when you boil it down.

To quash the controversy once and for all, I’d ponder at just how many bots have been developed and downloaded online in the past week, month, year(s)? You are playing bots all the time without even thinking twice about it. They are a reality of online poker play.

Poker bots come in all sorts of forms. Remember they have to be geared to specific poker rooms. And it’s always best to keep in mind that not all poker rooms allow the use of bots. Most of the “good bots” are pay bots – meaning you must purchase them directly. But there’s the odd REALLY good free one out there too!