Many gambling chats and news groups devoted to poker more and more frequently anxiously mention the so-called card-playing robots, known as “bots” in the nomenclature of the Web, that are being used on commercial gambling sites. Many players are sure that a number of gambling portals prospers due to the use of the special programs, able to beat an above-average player, not mentioning a beginner. In a traditional casino you can always guess the weak sides of your competitor, figure out his strategy and etc, in a virtual gaming house there is no telling your competitor is a human, but not specially created program, “substituted” for a real player.
If it is true, then widespread of poker bots capable of beating an average player would pose a significant problem for poker sector. Without creation of a special system verifying the identity and “humanity” of cards players in on-line casinos, the business could be significantly undercut. This is an opinion of players themselves, and gambling figures, interested in further development of on-line game industry.
Some skeptics say that, considering the complexity of the game and constantly changing strategies, creation of the program that can read opponents’ cards using special techniques of screen scanning and respond in real time is many decades away at best. The supporters of this point of view point to the variety of commercial programs that purport to help players, but with no actual effect. However there is a ready answer for all of these objections – in Canadian University of Alberta a computer poker research group has developed an artificially intelligent automaton known as “Vex Bot”. This robot is capable of playing poker at master level in a game with two players. The new system has already been used to test the frontiers of artificial intelligence, as it will be the basis for commercial poker tutorial program. As soon as the news about robot creation was published in media, the creators began to receive letters mentioning the danger of system use for the purposes of illegal gambling business.
Darse Billings who is lead designer of “Vex Bot” considers that probability of the use of bots on commercial sites is approximately 50:50, but he is also sure that all of the modern programs can unlikely match his creation, which is a result of a 10 years research work of a team of specialists.
“The strategy of the game is difficult and to sit down and write a program that can beat a table of experienced human players is no trivial task,” Billings said. According to his the opinion, the biggest obstacles lie in the amount of information unavailable to the player and the need for the program to be able to employ a variety of strategies at different times, such as bluffing and laying traps for opponents, etc Exactly for this purpose artificial intelligence was added to the system, capable not only calculate probabilities but also line up logic of game, model it’s opponents behavior, etc.
In the opinion of creators of “Vex Bot”, its main advantage is that, as well as any other robot; they have no emotions, no fear and no shame and can not be nervous. He will remain indifferent even before the most aggressive player.
Journalists, studying the problem of poker boats, note that it is very difficult to get the real picture because of the unwillingness of many gambling operators to answer upon requests on this issue. There are no high-quality programs, able to watch suspicious poker sites with the unusual patterns of game.
Representative of CryptoLogic Company, commenting this problem, mentioned that some players, suspected to use of boats, have been banned from the member sites. Sometimes it is just impossible to be sure who plays is a human or robot, but a company, exposing all unusual strategies, prefers to be reinsured and protect itself from the possible socializing with a bot.
Professional players, speaking about the popularity of poker bots, mention how advantageous it can be: if you have the program, able to play 25 casinos simultaneously, two tables apiece and even if you are playing a minimum $10-20 on a game, you earn $1000 an hour. The participants of many gambling chats are distressed that the computer programs have already took the place of interactive poker. Skeptics are sure that poker will continue to become more popular, in spite of all of threats from the side of programmers. In their opinion, it’s only a matter of time before more people want to create their own bots to be remembered, but all of these attempts are doomed to failure.