There is a common myth amongst online poker players that we are not only playing against human opponents. Many are convinced that there are computer bots present on their tables. But is that actually the case? Keep reading. You will be surprised by some facts.
Do poker sites have bots? There are many bots playing on poker sites. This has been confirmed in the past by even the biggest poker site – PokerStars. But not all bots are equal, and chances are if you are playing on lower stakes, then the bots will be easily beatable.
Bots on microstakes and low stakes aren’t very advanced. They follow common patterns and are usually just good enough to be around breakeven winrate. This means if you are a regular at your stakes, you should have no problem beating them. Once you get to the higher stakes, things might get harder, though.
If the bots are present, then you might wonder if poker sites have their own bots. Poker sites do not use their own bots. But some of them know that bots are playing on their poker sites and don’t do much against them. Yet some poker sites are quick to ban anyone from their poker site, who uses them and take their funds.
What do poker sites do against the bots?
Let’s face it. Some poker sites deal with bots more than others. Especially smaller poker sites are less likely to combat bots, as they lack the necessary resources to do so. On the other hand, you have a giant like PokerStars who have specialized teams of database analysts, ex poker pros, and other experts combating the bots.
On the smaller poker sites, they often don’t care too much. These bots generate huge amounts of rake and don’t win too much, so poker sites are okay with it. And that is fine for bot owners also, as they get hefty amounts of rakeback.
As long as they rake plenty, poker sites don’t see the incentive to invest in expensive solutions against them.
For example, joeingram1 talked a lot about a cheating scandal that included bots, superusers, and multi-accounting on one poker site that allows American players to play there. Check it in his video:
What happens when a poker bot is detected?
As I said, some poker sites don’t care too much if they have bots or not. But at least on PokerStars, they are known to have taken some action against them. They have invested millions of dollars in refining their system of detecting bots. If they suspect someone is a bot, they usually would:
- Freeze the balance of suspected account: So that person in question can’t make the cashout.
- Analyze the hands further: they, after all, need to make sure if a player is actually a bot before they make the final decision.
- Share the confiscated funds among the players that were infected. Everyone who played against them will receive a share of what the balance is on poker bot’s account. I remember years back, there was a case, that one payer got $20,000 back, when a group of Chinese cheaters was caught. And he played $100 sit&go’s. That is truly many games that he played against bots.
How to spot a poker bot?
Spotting a poker bot at your tables can be fairly easy. Try to look for these patterns:
- Playing all the time
- Same time to act
- Not responding to moderator chat messages
- Plays many tables
Playing all the time
Poker bots aren’t humans. They are (software) machines programmed to play whenever you click on a button. To maximize their hourly, owners of poker bots let them run as much as they can get away with before getting caught. They are playing every day for an inhuman amount of hours. We are talking about 10 hours or more every day, and often even more. Some are reckless enough to let them run for the whole day. Luckily poker sites have mechanisms in place that tell them who plays every day with no breaks.
Same time to act
You might think that poker bots take only a split second to act. Well, not exactly. A poker bot must first analyze the hand and then decide what to do. Often they take precisely a few seconds to act. No matter if the decision is straightforward, like raising with aces or just folding with 72 offsuit. It will always take a few seconds to act.
It is quite easy to pick up if a player takes always exact amount to make a decision. Especially if you are playing Heads-Up and even on a 6max table.
Not responding to moderator chat messages
If a moderator comes to the table, you will usually see some sort of on table message along with it being visible in the chat. It can be as simple as moderator asking players not to use bad language, or to check if someone is a bot. If a player ignores such messages, he may very well be a bot.
Plays many tables
I used to 24 table cash games and even more than thirty tables when I was grinding single table sit&go’s. And I am not a bot. Although if someone keeps grinding many tables, the chances he is a bot are higher.
No bot will only play one table. Bot owners want to maximize their profits; therefore, they will always want to have many tables running at all times.
When you think it is a poker bot, but, likely, it isn’t
There is no reason to get overly suspicious that every time you sit down, you will be playing against a computer instead of a human. The vast majority of players are real ones, and only here and there you will encounter a poker bot. If a player does one of these things, it might look like he is a bot, but high chances are he isn’t:
- A player always leaves if it is not a full table: Some players simply don’t like to play if the table is not full handed. Maybe they went through their hand history and noticed that they are not winning players anymore when the number of players reduces. Then it makes perfect sense to leave the table whenever there are empty seats.
- Always uses the same bet sizing in similar spots: many poker pros have standard bet sizings on similar boards. I have shortcuts set up to ⅓, ½, and ¾ of the pot. So the majority of the time, I will bet the same amount.
- Always sits on your left just after you sit down: some scripts allow players to sit down immediately when someone that fits their hand history criteria. So this can easily be done by a human player.
- Doesn’t respond in chat: I rarely respond in chat if I am multi-tabling. I am simply too busy, to be paying attention to the chat and focus instead on the action on the tables. But there is a huge difference if a moderator writes to you. Then you need to respond, and if you don’t – well, then you might be a bot :).
How to beat a poker bot?
On the highest stakes, it might be impossible to beat poker bots.
It is often that they would be playing more than just one account on the table, and together with card removal (bot knows which cards does other bot on the table have), their advantage is just too big.
But on all the other stakes, the bots aren’t so sophisticated. After all, otherwise, they would play higher. Bots will have the same patterns, and once you pick on one of their moves, you can easily exploit it.
Once you figure out the bot patterns, you will wish to play every minute against it.
For example, if you would check-raise, and you notice bot has folded 2 times already to a check-raise, well, then you can start check-raising as a bluff every hand against him. Poker bot will not adapt. They have no emotions, and on these stakes, they are unable to tell that you are now check-raising every hand. Maybe they raise against limp every time and cbet 100% on the flop. You simply don’t know until you try out a few plays and see which work.
So the best is to be observant and alter you play until you see something that works reasonably well against a bot. Then you keep repeating that all the time. I have made this approach before, and after days of squeezing many blinds from the bot, the owner finally removed it. But not before I got my fair share of money from it.
If you are sure you found a bot, keep changing your play style against him.
Eventually, when you find a way to exploit it, then keep doing that every single time. If he cbets only value hands well, then don’t try to reraise him as a bluff. But that means he now folds too much when he doesn’t bet. Simply start betting when he checks, and slowplay your made hands.
Bots were already present many years ago and still are today. But with keeping attention, you can find one. Once you do, find their leaks, every bot have some, nobody’s code is perfect. After that, just keep exploiting the bot every time, and you will make nice money. And remember, if you feel you can’t beat them, then leave the table. There is plenty of other tables available to you online. Of course, there is also the option to report them to the owners of the poker site.