PokerStars Alerted to Discovery of a Large Cheating Bot Program
On July 18, PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, announced that it had closed ten player accounts that have been labeled as being run by computer bots instead of 10 separate individuals making it a serious form of cheating. The bots are said to have played over 8 million hands, generating $187,000 in rake and making a very comfortable profit of $57,000. While this issue has been resolved it has brought to light an very touchy issue in online poker.
How PokerStars Was Alerted to the Issue
The problem of the 10 bot accounts may have been put to rest by the PokerStars security team after a very brief investigation, but the issue was not even brought up by PokerStars but by the poker community in general. Back on July 13 a member of the poker forum Two Plus Two reported seeing three suspicious players as they would play the same stakes, change stakes after the same number of hands, and would continue the rotations over and over.
According to PokerTableRatings.com, the same site that discovered a series of problems with the software on UltimateBet some time ago contains statistical information on millions of online poker accounts in order to allow possible opponents the ability to see how other players play. The tools available on PokerTableRatings allowed a Two Plus Two user to discover on July 16th that all three accounts had unbelievable statistical connections.
What the bots would do is that once the “bot player” was in the Big Blind position and there were a series of people who called the blind, without raising, the bot in the Big Blind would either bet all-in or bet very high but not all-in. If the bot was raised while in the Big Blind position they would fold every time. The bot accounts would systematically move up and down from the $1/$2, $0.50/$1/, and the $0.25/$0.50 tables making the same plays every time.
PokerTableRatings Takes the Reigns to Discover all Ten Accounts
Once the first three accounts were discovered PokerTableRatings released a report stating that they found 10 accounts on PokerStars that shared the exact same characteristics. What is most upsetting to the poker community, in general, is that PokerStars did not catch this before regular players went on the investigative hunt and then passed it onto PokerTableRatings.
The regular online poker player understands that problems like computer bots can happen, but they also want to believe that the poker room has a handle on the situation, especially when the problem occurred on the largest and most wealthy poker room in the world. While this was a terrible situation, the fact that it happened will keep people more vigilant and hopefully, the poker rooms will be ready to act before players have to start playing detective themselves.