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  1. #1
    Moderator Steve R's Avatar
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    Default How big of a problem are poker bots?

    Svenska Spel recently uncovered a poker bot ring that was playing as high as $2.50/$5 NLHE games. In 2010 poker bots were discovered on Stars that were playing $25./$.50 to $1/$2 NLHE. It would seem to me that as they continue to become more sophisticated poker bots could very well be the #1 problem for online poker. Thoughts?
    Quote Originally Posted by G9OLT
    I just think you guys didn t want it enough this month
    Read my musings on poker and life at PokerNewsBoy.com, and My Poker Blog

    "Galfond is a mind reading wizard & we should consider burning him at the stake." Hockey Guy

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Xopods's Avatar
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    The death of online poker and possibly the death of poker in general.

    It's why no one plays backgammon for money online... because even regular commercial backgammon programs are already stronger than humans, if you're playing for money online, you're not just relying on your own skill, but also on the site's skill at making sure you're playing a real person. And even if you are, you have no guarantee they're not running a backgammon AI in another window or even on another machine and making their moves based on its suggestions.

    Meanwhile, computers surpassing humans at a game is troubling for the game in general. Even if it may be a while before chess is solved in absolute terms, it's not going to be long before it's outside of the realm of hope that a human will ever take back the title from a computer. So I wouldn't teach my kid to play chess now. I'd either teach him something like Go, with a complexity such that he'll be at least my age before computers are dominating it, or something more obscure, like El Juego de las Amazonas (excellent game btw), such that computer scientists aren't likely to put in the effort to beat it*.

    When it comes to poker, maybe the thrill of gambling is enough to give people an incentive to play live against other humans, but when you're gambling you want to know you've got a fair game. But what you have to realize is that powerful computers are going to keep getting smaller and smaller, and more and more omnipresent. At some point you're going to need a strip-search and an X-ray at the entrance to the poker room to make sure no one's carrying anything on them that's going to feed them moves, and who's going to go to that trouble instead of just playing craps?

    *: Of course, eventually computers are going to get so powerful that they can beat humans at any game as soon as they're introduced to the rules... possibly solve them too, if you believe that quantum computing is going to be a real thing. If you don't, it's easy to construct games that even a Universe-sized computer couldn't actually solve them in the age of the Universe (Go on a sufficiently large board, for instance), but at some point computer AI will surely exceed human strategic intuition, so brute-forcing won't be necessary.
    Quote Originally Posted by pikachar
    Honestly didn t read OP I just got to say xopods is right on the money
    I design board & card games!: http://www.benefactum.ca

  3. #3
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    I know that on stars youd have virtually no chance of using a bot because they have pretty good penetration tools on your computer to prevent it. - I know I tried it out once cant beat them join them. Buty I promptly got a warning saying I had to quit the game and remove the tool. Even use of an automated tool that would fold all but the best hands and then notify you if you were for example multit tabling is banned to under the tos and they have tools to dtect most of them. Mind you if you do have a bot that makes money youd want to be playing it round the clock on as many installations as youy could afford. But I seriously doubt there are that many programmer/players who could do that. In my opinion its not a problem. I would reckon collusion is a much harder to detect problem.

  4. #4
    Moderator Steve R's Avatar
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    There was a massive Poker Bot ring that got busted at PokerStars back in 2010. A sophisticated bot would appear much like a human player to any detection programs a site is running.
    Quote Originally Posted by G9OLT
    I just think you guys didn t want it enough this month
    Read my musings on poker and life at PokerNewsBoy.com, and My Poker Blog

    "Galfond is a mind reading wizard & we should consider burning him at the stake." Hockey Guy

    "Stud is an art form, sorta like martial arts, without the karate chops and the "hi-yah's." Pikachar

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Xopods's Avatar
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    Any computer security thing is always an arms race... whatever PokerStars software is looking for on your computer, there's a way to obfuscate it. Chances are, though, that their system is more like an antivirus, looking for certain known patterns in memory. So if you wrote your own software and didn't distribute it, they wouldn't know what to look for.

    But let's assume PokerStars is infallible. There's still a hardware workaround with a human intermediary, which couldn't be detected without Stars actually being able to see inside your house, which I think is well past the point at which most users would draw the line in terms of invasion of privacy.

    Here's how it would work, in the extreme case that Stars has perfect access to and understanding of everything happening on your computer: you've got a camera pointed at your screen, feeding into a second computer, on which you've got software that can interpret the image and follow what's going on in the game. A difficult, but not impossible task, unless Stars starts scrambling its image with Captcha-like distortion and noise, which is again beyond what users would tolerate.

    That second computer is then running the AI which makes the decisions and displays its move on-screen: RAISE TO 480, for instance. You, the human, then actually make that move on the first computer.

    Total separation between the Stars software and the AI. Stars does not know what's going on in your brain, nor what happens to the photons from your monitor once they've been emitted, therefore there's no way of detecting the cheating. Except perhaps by the fact that you're doing too well... but then again, we're running into the question of what the community would accept; would players play on a site where you could be accused of cheating and have your account seized simply because you won too much?

    You might argue that this is too much work, but firstly, it's probably not necessary to go to quite those lengths: using the connection for a second monitor to feed the visual data directly to a second computer without the need for a camera would probably go unnoticed, and the resulting pixel-perfect image would be much easier to interpret than camera data... likewise, you could probably circumvent the need for a human intermediary by feeding mouse and keyboard input back into the first computer via the USB ports, with care taken to add a humanlike randomness to the speed of the keystrokes and imprecision in the mouse movement (if Stars' computers can recognize what a "human" mouse movement looks like, your computer could likewise produce such a movement).

    Secondly, even if it's not worth the work now, when computers can only beat the lower stakes games, if you had an AI which was capable of beating people at, say, 50/100 NL, then it would definitely become worth it.
    Last edited by Xopods; June 28th, 2013 at 05:12 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by pikachar
    Honestly didn t read OP I just got to say xopods is right on the money
    I design board & card games!: http://www.benefactum.ca

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Xopods's Avatar
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    Or, even easier, with no software aside from the AI needed at all: just work as a two-man team, one operating the Stars software and calling out the action to the second person as it happens, who is inputting that information into the AI on a second machine, and calling back moves to the first person.
    Quote Originally Posted by pikachar
    Honestly didn t read OP I just got to say xopods is right on the money
    I design board & card games!: http://www.benefactum.ca

  7. #7
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    Perhaps what we need is a site setup so bots can compete against each other and humans without the restrictions from the site.

    It is easy to see how bots could out play people like me at card selection, bet sizing and the like but it is not clear how good bots are at hand reading.

    Of course, I am no good at hand reading but if it was needed to win then I might be forced to develop some more advanced skills in order to beat the bots.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Xopods's Avatar
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    Adapting to opponents' patterns and accurately putting them on a range is presumably the main axis along which the top AIs are being improved these days. I'm pretty sure computers are already as good at Level 1 play as anyone's ever going to be.
    Quote Originally Posted by pikachar
    Honestly didn t read OP I just got to say xopods is right on the money
    I design board & card games!: http://www.benefactum.ca

  9. #9
    Moderator Steve R's Avatar
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    The best Heads-Up Limit Holdem bots are virtually unbeatable
    Quote Originally Posted by G9OLT
    I just think you guys didn t want it enough this month
    Read my musings on poker and life at PokerNewsBoy.com, and My Poker Blog

    "Galfond is a mind reading wizard & we should consider burning him at the stake." Hockey Guy

    "Stud is an art form, sorta like martial arts, without the karate chops and the "hi-yah's." Pikachar

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Xopods's Avatar
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    BetOnline Promo

    That's because in a two-player game unexploitable play will always break even or win, whereas in a multi-way game, it's usually the case that any strategy can be defeated by some combination of strategies by the other players, so you need to be playing to exploit others rather than just trying not to be exploitable yourself.

    And of course limit games lend themselves more to a general mathematical approach than no-limit games, where your play has to vary much more widely depending on the opponent.
    Quote Originally Posted by pikachar
    Honestly didn t read OP I just got to say xopods is right on the money
    I design board & card games!: http://www.benefactum.ca

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