Back in the early days of online poker and especially during the poker boom of the mid-aughts, the biggest concern online poker players – and maybe more so prospective online poker players – had was whether or not the games were on the up-and-up. “Online Poker is Rigged” threads on message boards were simultaneously popular and mocked. Today, concerns revolve less around possible impropriety by the sites and more around cheating by players. One cheating method is the use of bots, programs that a user will run with the poker software to automate poker actions. There has always been some question as to whether or not poker rooms care about bot use, but recently, partypoker confirmed on its blog that it has shut down nearly 300 bot accounts.
Bot use isn’t exactly cheating in the strictest definition of the term; botters aren’t necessarily colluding with other players or seeing opponents’ cards. It is, at the very least, unfair play. By using automated programs, bot users have a significant advantage in a couple ways. First, emotions never get in the way. Every decision is made exactly according to plan. And second, fatigue never enters the equation. Of course, the program must actually be good at playing poker, but we’ll ride with that assumption.
partypoker Got to Work
On the partypoker blog, the poker site said that it closed 277 bot accounts between December 1st, 2018 and March 31st, 2019. From those accounts, it redistributed $734,852.15 in funds, implying that nearly three quarters of a million dollars went back to players who were at the tables with those bot accounts.
“partypoker continues to invest in resources aimed at safeguarding the safety of its players, spearheaded by a specialist Poker Fraud Team comprising a collection of former poker professionals who are equipped with the necessary knowledge and expertise to investigate suspicious activity and aid partypoker in ridding the site of unscrupulous accounts,” the poker room said. “Since 1 December 2018, over 75% of the account closures came as a result of detection by the new fraud team, and the site will continue to provide regular updates on the number of bot account closures.”
Team partypoker member Patrick Leonard chimed in on the blog, saying:
Two years ago it wouldn’t have been possible, but after seeing the security department first hand, the team working there and the tools they are using, I’m very confident now that they can tackle people trying to play against the rules. In my opinion it isn’t worth somebody trying to bend the rules because, in the words of Liam Neeson: “They will find you, they will catch you and they will.. ban you!”
Despite what Leonard said, people are always going to try to game the system. It is gambling and that’s what happens. Hell, it’s life and that’s what happens. But hopefully the online poker rooms will continue to invest in sophisticated technology to combat cheating and combine that with knowledgeable staff members to mitigate any problems.