Florida International University professor worries about “bots” in online poker games

The number of poker playing “bots,” or software programs like artificial intelligence that are programmed to play poker, are on the rise. Recent advancements in poker AI, combined with the sheer number of bots hiding in online games, is enough to worry Sam Ganzfried, a professor at Florida International University.

Ganzfried has a special attachment to poker. As one of the three researchers who developed Claudico, the poker AI that toon on the world's best heads-up poker players in 80,000 hands of poker, he knows a bit about these new bots.

“I certainly don't want these bots to have any adverse impact on a game,” said Ganzfried. He claims that none of the academic researchers are making their bot code available for use in online poker, but how could he be sure? Even if the bots are not coming from academia, they are out there.

According to BonusBots.com, a website that sells what they call “gaming assistance software,” they alone have more than 25,000 customers – each one of which could potentially be running multiple bots on multiple poker sites.

Players discovered using bots could see any winnings they have made disappear and could even face prosecution. However, bots are difficult to detect as even the plays of humans can be robotic after so many hours of online poker.

Ganzfried does not think the fight against bots can be won. Instead, he suggests that some sites could be open to only bots, or could place identifiers on which players are bots and which are humans.

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