What Poker Bots Are and How To Know if You’re Playing Against One
Poker bots are software that learns the play styles of each human player and uses that information to autonomously make decisions to try to beat them.
Bots are typically considered cheating by many online casinos and poker sites.
You should never try to out a poker bot in any public forum, but you can report them to the online casino or poker site directly.
You’re playing online poker at your favorite online New Jersey casino when you notice another player acting a little odd. They’re not chatting with you, they’re betting the same amounts every time, and they sit out when the table gets too crowded. It dawns on you — this could be a poker bot.
But how do poker bots work? And what do you do when you encounter a poker bot? Let’s answer these questions and more to help you better understand the technology some players are using to gain an unfair advantage over everyone else.
What Are Poker Bots?
Poker bots are software programs that observe other players, collect data on their gameplay, and play hands based on those stats. Essentially, a bot plays at your table and watches your every move to crack the code of your gameplay and use the info to beat you.
But not all poker bots are created equal. Some bots are simple and can only play based on very specific rules their human counterpart has programmed them with. That means they can only make bets of a certain amount at certain times and may fold when it looks like, statistically, someone else has the better hand. Other bots employ more sophisticated AI that gets smarter the more hands it plays.
Some online poker players may create multiple accounts and deploy bots for all of them, while other players may use a bot occasionally to help them win a bit while they’re not able to man the tables themselves. But in most cases, bots only win a little bit of money over a longer period of time, which helps these accounts stay under the radar.
However, you know that the more chances you have to play, the more chances you have to win. That’s why people may use bots to play for them and slightly increase their bankroll while they’re away. In fact, bots give players 24/7 automated gameplay if they really want it.
How Do You Spot Poker Bots?
While there are some more obvious signs that indicate a player is actually a bot, many of the signs take time and keen observation to identify. Some of the most identifiable characteristics of poker bots include:
Making decisions within the same time frame: A poker bot may only take a few seconds to make a decision, and they’ll make their decision within the exact same amount of time, every time. Why? It doesn’t take as much time to consider the statistical probability of them winning the hand, opponents winning the hand, players bluffing, or other factors. And it only needs to consider the few factors it does take into account for a few seconds. It’s rare that a human player, even a skilled one, would be that precise.
Sitting out when the table reaches a certain number of players: Bots are programmed to handle long-handed or short-handed ranges. That means that when the table has a certain number of players, the bot may choose not to play. Long-handed bots won’t play when there are too few players, and short-handed bots will sit out when there are too many players. However, keep in mind that human players may do this, too, if they feel they’re better at short-handed plays over long-handed ones.
Betting uniform amounts: A bot is programmed to bet a certain amount (or within a certain range) at each point in a hand, i.e. pre-flop, pre-river, pre-turn, etc. This is to ensure the bot doesn’t wager too much too early in the game. Some bots are programmed to go all-in at certain points, too. Note that human players may also keep all wagers within a certain range or at the same amount for various reasons, like for poker strategy reasons, bankroll management, or to make use of hotkeys (shortcuts).
Not using the chat: Bots don’t use the chat because they’re not programmed to do so. Even a sophisticated bot wouldn’t be sophisticated enough to dynamically react to the chat and come across as a human to do so. But just because a player isn’t using the chat doesn’t mean they’re a bot. Some players don’t chat because they’re shy, they don’t want to get distracted, or they just don’t like the chatting feature.
Playing a lot of tables: To get the most chances to win, a player will often deploy a bot across many tables at once. Human players sit at multiple tables at once, too, but there’s a limit. If you notice a player is at a lot of tables at once, they might be using a bot.
Playing many different poker variants simultaneously: As if playing 12 tables wasn’t enough, a player who is playing Texas Hold ’em, Omaha, and other poker variants across many tables at the same time might be a bot. There’s a lot to juggle with the different rules of each poker type, so playing multiple tables of each type is likely a sign of a bot.
Playing 24/7: Even the most skilled and experienced players need to take a break eventually. But a player that has been at a table for 24 hours or more is likely a bot, especially if their strategy has been consistent the whole time.
Can You Beat a Poker Bot?
Hypothetically, yes you could beat a poker bot. Some simple poker bots have easily exploitable betting patterns that, if you pick up on them, you can use to bluff the bot out of a hand. What’s more, simple bots aren’t usually good at reading bluffs because they don’t do adaptive play, which is where they learn and get better at playing against certain players over time.
But remember that these bots don’t have emotions. They can’t be intimidated by assertive gameplay. If you choose to go head-to-head with a bot, consider lowering your bet amounts to minimize losses just in case.
What Do You Do if You Suspect You’re Playing Against a Poker Bot?
As we discussed above, some tactics used by bots are not exclusive, and many human players may also use them. Here are a few things you can do if you think you’re playing against a poker bot:
Don’t try to out them. The person just may be a fast player who hates to chat and has a specific betting strategy. If you try to say that they’re a bot in the chat or another public forum, you could be wrong. And if you’re wrong, you could damage your reputation in the online poker community you’re part of.
Try to figure out how smart the bot is. If the bot is simple, you may be able to identify its betting patterns and win against it. But be leery of machine-learning bots that get smarter over time.
Report the player privately. Contact the game moderator or the online casino or poker site’s security team. Provide what proof you have, and let them handle the investigation and punishment, if relevant.
Are Bots Considered Cheating?
Yes, many online casinos and poker sites consider the use of any bots or machine-learning software a form of cheating. Some machine-learning extensions that still require a player to manually make decisions may be acceptable, though frowned upon. These extensions can evaluate players over time and provide stats for the bot owner to use in their gameplay against these players.
If you’re unsure of whether an online casino or poker site considers bots a form of cheating, read the site’s terms and conditions.
How Do You Avoid Poker Bots?
If you suspect someone is a bot and you don’t want to play against them, you don’t have to. You can just move to another table and avoid them altogether. Another way to avoid poker bots is to play on a site that is strict about its no-bot cheating policy.
What Measures Do Online Casinos Take To Prevent Bots?
Many online casinos and poker sites use digital security measures to identify suspicious play activity that resembles bot activity. Game moderators may also be on the lookout for oddly uniform play styles. Playing against human players is a challenge on its own, but having to spot, avoid, or beat out computer players isn’t fun for many people. That’s why we have in-depth reviews of all legal online casinos in New Jersey to help you find the casino and games that you can trust.