If you are reading this from the United States, there is a good chance that you have never heard of the online poker network GGPoker. Hell, I read about poker for a living and I barely know anything about it. Europeans might not know much about it, either. GGPoker, while open to most countries across the globe, caters mostly to the Asian poker community. And while it does not have the name recognition of a PokerStars, GGPoker ranks as the third largest online poker network in terms of cash game traffic, according to PokerScout.
So why am I writing about GGPoker right now? A piece this week at CalvinAyre.com caught my eye. It previewed an upcoming feature for GGPoker’s software called “Smart Betting.” From the article:
GGPoker uses an algorithm to remember your betting patterns. When you have a betting decision, artificial intelligence (AI) provides you with a series of betting options. The AI can also suggest optimal betting options, irrespective of your previous behaviour.
We know what most poker apps look like. When it’s your turn to bet, you are presented with several buttons like Bet/Call, Check, and Fold. Many apps also have betting presets, like half pot, two-thirds pot, or three times the big blind, just to give you some options and make things faster. Obviously, you can still enter your own bet in a text box and/or use a bet slider, depending on the software.
But not everyone likes to use the presets and sometimes typing the bets or using the slider can be a pain in the ass, especially when using a mobile device. That’s where it sounds like Smart Betting fits in. If you’re someone who usually raises 2.5 or maybe 4 times the big blind, the algorithm eventually figures that out and gives you that quick bet option.
“Smart Betting is going to make playing Poker on mobile way easier and smoother,” Jean-Christophe Antoine, Head of GGNetwork, told CalvinAyre.com “It’s always a hassle to type the amount you want to bet or be accurate with bet sliders, so you now have the option to use Smart Betting if you like it!”
I feel him on that hassle. While I don’t live in a jurisdiction where I can play mobile poker, I have felt the pain of the slider. Like when I’m trying to show someone where I appear in the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming, but keep over- or under-shooting the moment on my phone’s YouTube app because I can’t fine-tune the slider. I eventually just have to find a spot a minute before the scene and then we both stand there like idiots waiting me to say, “Look! There I am!”
That part about the AI suggesting “optimal betting options” should give poker players pause, though. It sounds like it is treading awfully close to software assistance or poker bot territory. It’s one thing to make betting options more convenient in a standardized way, but to have an AI tell you, “I think you should be this much,” is eyebrow-raising. To be fair, though, we’ll have to wait and see how it all works out once Smart Betting launches.