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Here’s the scenario: You’re playing online poker at the cash tables, trying to build your bankroll, grinding away, when something seems a little fishy about one of your opponents.

Not the kind of fishy that you like to see, such as forever chasing those losing hands. But the kind of fishy that seems a bit too standard and automated, with moves so calculated that it makes you wonder exactly who the player is behind the dull screen name.

You try to engage in a little bit of chat box conversation with a “nh” when he wins a hand, or “good bet” when he comes over the top to buy a pot. Yet your opponent remains mute, carrying on with his play, oblivious to your attempts at social interaction.

You then let the entire table know about your suspicions, stating, “‘Kohyu92’ is a bot. Watch his moves and style.”

Your tablemates may chime in with “I thought so too” or perhaps a “Nah, that’s just the way he plays.” The crudest player at the table might say something like “Hey ‘Kohyu92’ ur a f***ing moron” to see if the insult might prompt a response.

Play carries on without a word from the mysterious player. He seems to never make a silly move, taking the same amount of time on each decision. His raises are somewhat standard, his bets quite similar each orbit dependent upon his position at the table and on what players in front of him have done.

Is it a Bot?

poker bot

Credit: The Guardian

Have you spotted a bot at your table? It’s possible. They are out there despite the best efforts of poker sites to eliminate them.

 

Keep in mind that just because a player doesn’t chat is not reason enough to indict him as a bot. But if you do come across a player whose actions consist of some of the characteristics mentioned above, he may be a bot programmed to play poker in a standard fashion in order to turn a steady profit.

Should your suspicions inspire you to investigate further, check out the lobby and see how many tables ‘Kohyu92’ might be playing on. If he’s on a bunch of tables, it’s not enough proof for a guilty verdict. But if he’s still there 24 hours later and hasn’t left, you have good reason to contact support if you’re so inclined.

Bot Detection in Progress

Most poker sites, at least the reputable ones, have ways to detect poker bots. But online poker being what it is and people being the way they are, it’s safe to assume that bots will slip through the cracks from time to time.

Another point to remember is that bots don’t always win. It’s not a guarantee that the program the bot is playing under will be 100% profitable. In fact, some players who spot a bot can easily beat him once they know his patterns and routine. The bot’s moves are calculated and his hands somewhat readable for the more astute players.

I would be remiss not to mention that human beings sometimes play online poker robotically, too. Playing for several hours straight at a number of tables simultaneously can make the actions of even the best players seem rote.

In any event, bots are not permitted at the poker tables. Sites that may suspect bot infestation and would like to weed them out can flash a server message across the screen informing all players to type a certain word in the chat box within a certain amount of time or risk being removed from the table. Players who don’t respond could be investigated further.

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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