New York Times: Poker Bots Invade Online Gambling

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:
poker bots

It’s something we have discussed often here at, online poker rooms and the vulnerability when it comes to bots.

What are bots?

Bots are software readily advertised across the Net.  The bots allow individuals to profit from Cash games, Sit and Go tournaments and even the huge money making Multi-Table tournaments, without actually taking part in these games themselves.  The bot does all the playing, no user required.

A search for the term “What is a Poker Bot?” on Google yielded results for several retail operations claiming to offer up the best variations.  Shanky Technologies comes up often and that is the company taking center stage in Full Tilt Poker’s recent crackdown. 

And now the New York Times is investigating.  They spoke with online poker player Bryan Taylor, who noted that his experience with the insidious bots occurred while playing on the world’s largest Internet poker room,

From the Times report:

The bots that Mr. Taylor identified on PokerStars were shut down in July. In October, another large poker site, Full Tilt, informed customers that it had taken action to limit the proliferation of bots, including freezing some accounts.

“PokerStars is continuing to invest substantial resources to combat bots,” Michael Josem, PokerStars Security Manager tells paper.

The New York Times goes on to explain just how serious a problem these bots have become, while noting they are not yet capable of beating the best players….yet.


Unlike a chess bot, a poker bot does most of its work before the match, running millions of simulations before the first card is dealt. But even with the large amounts of memory available with today’s computers, storing — or even computing — information for every possible scenario would be implausible.

The best poker bots in the world include those from the University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group, which is nearly 20 years old. Professor Michael Bowling, who has led the group since 2005, says the breakthrough came in 2003, when researchers decided to change their approach, shifting away from the methodology used to build chess bots.

Brian Jetter, a co-founder of the bot program Shanky, said in an e-mail interview that more than 400 of his customers had been banned from Full Tilt.

“Using a poker bot is in fact a natural extension of the game of online poker,” Jetter told the Times, adding that Shanky has sold 5,000 copies of its Holdem Bot software since it was introduced in early 2008.

- Ace King,