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Online Poker Played by Bots?

I've just read one of the most interesting stories I've read for a while. Concern is growing in online chat rooms and news groups devoted to poker that sophisticated card-playing robots - known as "bots" in the nomenclature of the Web - are being used on commercial gambling sites to fleece newcomers, the strategy-impaired and maybe even above-average players.

A bot capable of playing against the best humans definitely already exists. The University of Alberta's Computer Poker Research Group has developed an artificially intelligent automaton known as "Vex Bot," capable of playing poker at the master level, though as yet it can only apply its gambling genius to two-player games. Vex Bot has been used by researchers to test the frontiers of artificial intelligence - and as the basis for a commercial poker tutorial program, Poki's Poker Academy -- but some fear it may become a blueprint for programmers with more sinister motives.

Given that games like Hold'em are quite simple enough (and the players bad enough), it makes sense to me that a quite simple bot could take a human player who can't work out the odds of winning each hand correctly, to the cleaners.

As online gambling increases will we see more of this? Will people start downloading programs to run on their desktops to tell them what to do with each hand? I think it will kind of take the fun out of playing online if it becomes a test of 'my bot against your bot' rather than 'skill'.

Skeptics - and there are many - argue the complexities of the game and the changing strategies ensure that creation of a program that can "read" opponents' cards using screen scanning techniques and respond in real time is years away at best.

The author runs a blog following developments in the internet and mobile internet sectors. With over 10 years experience in strategy consulting and business development, and has seen and lived through the highs, and the lows of the industry.

Based in London, the author can be contacted on and his blog can be found at


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