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 Post subject: Introduction: Pokerbots and Computer Poker Players (FAQ)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:01 pm 
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What is pokerbot?

Online pokerbots are software programs built to automatically play poker, or just to support (augment) your decision making in online poker (and other) games for real money.

Is legal/moral developing pokerbots?

Absolutely yes. For example, poker research is driving the progress of game theory research, and this is what e.g. University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group is doing. Developing pokerbots can also be a lot of fun, either as a personal hobby or as a competitive goal.

Is it legal to use pokerbots on online poker sites?

In non-business specific terms it is legal to do it. The UK laws, for example, explicitely allows it (see later in this thread for details). The legallity of using pokerbots in conjuction with specific poker site depends on their specific end user license agreements (EULA) that you agree to plus the legality of breaching a public contract in the respective jurisdition. Poker EULAs forbids using bots to different extend. Still, there is no common legal basis or consequences defined of what happens if you violate the casinos EULA. In reallity most poker sites will either first warn you, or directly close your account and eventually seize all of your account money. There is no known case of any poker site going beyond that.

Is using pokerbots "cheating"?

Cheating is formally defined as breaking the EULA of the casino (due to, as of today, the lack of better categorization), hence if particular casino forbid bots, this is considered cheating. Many EULA, however, contain clauses similar to the following:
---- 13. FORFEITURE, ACCOUNT CLOSURE AND CONFISCATION.
The Company reserves the right to cancel your account for any reason whatsoever at any time without notice to you. Company reserves the right, in its unfettered discretion, to void any winnings and confiscate any balance in your account in any of the following circumstances:
... If you are not of legal age;
... If you connect from a jurisdiction where participation in the games is prohibited by law;
... If you have not played on an individual basis for personal entertainment only (that is, you have played in a professional sense or in concert with other player(s) as part of a club, group, etc.);
----
which renders all proffesional online poker play ALSO as violating the EULA, hence cheating. Casino EULAs don't make a lot of sense, do they?

As a simple reference, here are the Terms of Services of some of the popular pokersites:

Is using pokerbots "moral"?

There are heavy, endless debates if using pokerbots is moral or not, and there is no generally accepted agreement. Most poker proffesionals consider themselve "moral", although they most probably violate many EULA clauses (see the example above, and there are many many others, that you can identify easily if you look at forums like twoplustwo.org). Players will violate EULAs contiosly or not (even thou they remain undetected in doing that). Similarly, most poker players that use bots consider themselve doing something moral. On the other side, most poker player that do not use bots consider using bots cheating and immoral. The most wide spread approach toward software in online poker is that users will like and consider "non-cheating" only the software that they use, and "cheating" everything that goes beyond that.

We believe that using bots as a result of personal development is moral as long as it is NOT used in conjuction with other violating actions (like creating multiple accounts, collusion) or things that are unfair to a human player (playing 7x24). This however does not makes it legal where it is not, so you have to consider carefully what you do and always be aware and adhere to the EULA of the sites, or be ready to face the consequences describe in the same EULA.

How many of the pokerbots online are long-term profitable?

Less than 10%. This is the often specualted belief. We are in the process of collecting hard statistical data to confirm this and we have early indications toward it.

How advanced are the various poker sites toward bot detection?

It varies. Some sites are more advanced than others in detecting bots. Most of the sites do that for public image rather than actually targeting bot elimination. Some small poker sites also have mechanisms for proactively preventing bots. The current status quo is that the big winning bots remain operational and running on any poker site that they would like to, while (depending on the efforts spend) mass spreaded bot frameworks or means to automate play are detected and stopped.

Can casinos eliminate bots?

Yes. Many poker sites dedicate a lot of resources so that they can eliminate bots. At present this does not make sense neither from casinos nor players point of view (as most of the operational bots are rule based and the long-term winners percentage is approximately the same as the one for winning poker players in general (therefore the poker ecosystem is not disturbed), and we are trying to change the public opinion (players and sites) on that. The means to maintain a winning bot are similar to the means to maintain a winning play. At present many people still live with the misunderstanding that "bots are evil and will destroy poker" and this is the primary incentives for some casinos to try to block bots, others do it due to licensing regulations under their local jursidiction. As a side note, a poker site need to spend much more resources than a bot author (so the effort is not bijectional).

How and when bots will become really dangerious for the poker ecosystem?

This depends on only one thing: How fast the poker research advance for particular poker variant. Poker is computationally intractable, but approximating game theoretic equillibrium or incorporating artificial intelligence techniques in bot "brains" can make them outperform humans, in any form of poker.
Our projection is that IF IT HAPPENS AT ALL, it will take from 4-7 years until bots threaten the present popular forms of poker.

Is collusion also OK?

No. Collusion (in all forms) is cheating from gametheory point of view, and it provides unfair advantage to the one using it. We believe in honest pokerbotting, where money are made when you build a bot playing the game of poker better, and not playing another game, in which the game theoretical setup provides one party with advantage over the others.
So any discussions of collusion (card sharing, strategy sharing, or even only sharing opponent profiling data, etc. - are not allowed to be discussed on pokerAI.org). See this thread for more details: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1613

Finally
Due to the variety of different EULAs, laws and regulations, if you engaging in discussions in the online botting forums, please make sure that you've read the rules for posting here.

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 Post subject: Re: Introduction: Pokerbots and Computer Poker Players (FAQ)
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:05 pm 
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Blog by a former PokerStars employee:

Quote:
"If real-money online poker becomes akin to continually shuffled blackjack - play well and you almost break even, play badly and you lose big, and everyone knows it's a sucker game - I'd call that dead. A few people may play, and sites may still rake a little, but nothing compared to what they do now."

On bots in general: Once the game is solved, and if it is not solved by a Thorp-like individual who is only interested in it for scientific purposes and publishes it for the world to see, online poker will probably start dying off. See first point. Now, I have some friends and ex-colleagues who work and have worked in bot detection. I respect them a lot, and I think they do an extremely good job of bot detection. When I worked at Stars (what seems like eons ago now) I was very impressed at some of the "catches" made by my then-colleagues, and I left when the War on Bots was in its infancy. I can only imagine their detection methods have grown by leaps and bounds. But I do believe the bot-makers have a big advantage. The cost of opening an account is minimal. The cost of identifying a bot, proving that it is a bot, and dealing with all the admin hassle that comes with closing someone's account is high. I'm a bit of a bot pessimist. I think that once the game is solved, ultimately, the bots win. Skynet will begin to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern Time, August 29.

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 Post subject: Re: Introduction: Pokerbots and Computer Poker Players (FAQ)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:24 pm 
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Quote:
Less than 15%.


Do you mean bots that are generally available? I assume so because I don't see how you could estimate this for private bots.

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 Post subject: Re: Introduction: Pokerbots and Computer Poker Players (FAQ)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:26 pm 
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longfields wrote:
Quote:
Less than 15%.


Do you mean bots that are generally available? I assume so because I don't see how you could estimate this for private bots.


All kind of bots. Bots "generally available" still differ heavily in their profitability (i.e. something like WH/OH that is only a framework).

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 Post subject: Re: Introduction: Pokerbots and Computer Poker Players (FAQ)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:16 pm 
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:)

Just found a paper about classification of cheating in online games:

Attachment:
Kimppa-Bissett.pdf [65.05 KB]
Downloaded 159 times


According to it, using a forum like 2+2 would be on 4-th place, next to using 3rd party software - like pokertracker, or bots (5-th place):

Quote:
Where to draw the line?
From the previous we can identify at least the
following categories that could be considered cheating:
1. Macros
2. Game mechanical cheats
3. Beta functions
4. External information sources
5. External software
6. Third party user interface
7. Client changing software
8. Password scams
9. Server affecting software
10. Server hacking

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 Post subject: Re: Introduction: Pokerbots and Computer Poker Players (FAQ)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:19 pm 
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As this was raised few times, I'm reposting this post by PeppaPig, which basically shows that PokerBots are explicitely allowed under the UK laws.

PeppaPig wrote:
Hi,

I think the only UK legislation that could potentially be relevant is this part of the Gambling Act 2005 :

Quote:
from http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/acts2005/uk ... -pb3-l1g42

42 Cheating
(1) A person commits an offence if he—
(a) cheats at gambling, or
(b) does anything for the purpose of enabling or assisting another person to cheat at gambling.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) it is immaterial whether a person who cheats—
(a) improves his chances of winning anything, or
(b) wins anything.
(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) cheating at gambling may, in particular, consist of actual or attempted deception or interference in connection with—
(a) the process by which gambling is conducted, or
(b) a real or virtual game, race or other event or process to which gambling relates.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or to both, or
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.
(5) In the application of subsection (4) to Scotland the reference to 51 weeks shall have effect as a reference to six months.
(6) Section 17 of the Gaming Act 1845 (c. 109) (winning by cheating) shall cease to have effect.


For this to be applicable the action of using a poker bot would have to be taken as 'cheating' in the terms of the act. This seems like a big stretch - the legislation was clearly intended to cover unambiguous cheating such as collusion etc.

However there has already been some official confirmation that using a poker bot is not considered cheating under UK law (and hence is not an offence).

The Gambling Commission is a body given authority under the Gambling Act 2005 which includes :
Quote:
28 Investigation and prosecution of offences
(1) The Commission—
(a) may investigate whether an offence has been committed under this Act, and
(b) may institute criminal proceedings in respect of an offence under this Act.


So they would be the ones deciding to try to prosecute - and they have issued statements that clearly imply that they do not consider use of poker bots (automated gambling software) as cheating - for instance from their July 2007 document "Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards: Responses

Quote:
http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/Up ... ummary.pdf

The Commission’s position

3.33 We have maintained the position that operators or customers need not be prevented by the Commission from using automated gambling software and that the use of automated gambling software does not pose a risk to the Commission’s fair and open objective, so long as the software is used in line with the Commission’s requirements.
...
3.35 We agree that collusion must be tackled by operators and our requirements on operators to limit collusion/cheating will equally apply to collusion/cheating where customers use automated gambling software.

(note particularly in 3.35 a clear distinction is drawn between collusion/cheating and use of automated gambling software)

There I believe it is clear that use of poker bots is not illegal under current UK law.

And on top of that - the current legislation / regulatory framework is designed to cover gambling licensed in the UK. Its not clear that the UK authorities would even consider gambling on a site based in some obscure part of the world as under their jurisdiction.

- PeppaPig


Other things for later reference:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1364&start=0

Hello xxx,

First and foremost you need to understand that Bots and Superusers are completely different things and are not comparable.

Bots do not work in the way you think they do. Bots can not see your hole cards, they can not predict the cards that are going to come up on the board, and they can not 'cheat' in the way you understand it.

A "bot" refers to the use of automated software which plays poker on a human's behalf using mathematical equations and instructions that a human has input.

Quite simply, Bots can not do anything on any given hand that a human player can not do as well.

Finally, Full Tilt Poker will not be discussing how our Bot/EPA detection and analyzing processes work. We have access to a wealth of information about this player and our professional assessment of this player is that he is not in violation of any site rules, including our Bot and EPA rules.

It is unfortunate that you disagree with our assessment of this player, but we will not be crediting your account in this situation as there were no violations that took place.

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards,

Jeremy E
Security and Fraud
Full Tilt Poker



Guardiant article that "bots are legal", and that "if breaking ToS is illegal/cheating => Everyone cheats".
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1822

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