WPN CEO Plans to Go HAM Against Botters
Winning Poker Network (WPN) CEO Phil Nagy is prepared to go scorched earth to combat bots on his network, or so he said, in so many words, on a recent Twitch livestream. Nagy’s comments come shortly after a player discussed on Two Plus Two how he allegedly profited $30,000 on America’s Cardroom, one of WPN’s member sites, by operating a bot.
Nagy, known to be very forthcoming on Twitch broadcasts, said that he believes he has “come up with the single biggest deterrent for anybody who wants to even think about doing bots.”
He readily admitted, though, that innocent players might get caught in the crossfire as he and his team weed out unwelcome botters.
“I will make mistakes, I will ban real money people, and I will ban real people because they seem like bots, and I will be merciless about it,” he said.
“To do this right, you gotta draw a line in the sand, if you end up being a casualty of war … collateral damage, I apologize, but this is what the people want.”
Bots, which are software programs that play poker without intervention from – or with very minimal intervention from – a human, are explicitly prohibited on WPN sites. America’s Cardroom’s Terms & Conditions state, for example, “The use of artificial intelligence including, without limitation, ‘robots’ for play in the Games, is strictly forbidden.”
In the thread on Two Plus Two, the alleged botter, who goes by the forum screen name “themadbotter,” said that he initially set out to program his bot on America’s Cardroom as a sort of intellectual pursuit, to see if he could create a winning bot. It did so well, though, that he said he got a bit “greedy” and kept it active for a few more months than he intended. In all, he said he ran his bot for about six months, eventually cashing out $30,000 in profit.
He claimed that most online poker rooms – PokerStars being the big exception – are fine with having bots at their tables:
In general most sites will look the other way for botters unless the botter garners a massive number of complaints from other players. Bots and poker sites have a mutually beneficial relationship. Bots are the most low-maintenance, high-value customers that most sites have. Bot-operators will never complain about cashout times, won’t e-mail support over and over about mundane issues, won’t complain about other players, won’t be ill-mannered, etc. Good bot-operators will remain low-key and continue to churn out rake for sites and fill up the tables to boost player #’s.
“Themadbotter” said that he put several hours in every night reviewing his bot’s results and adjusting its code to make sure it continued to get better. He also said a big key was making sure it didn’t look like a bot. He would program in automated misclicks, have it switch tables and get on waiting lists, and made sure the duration and timing of its sessions didn’t give it away. As to the latter, that didn’t mean only having it play short sessions (as many people would assume long sessions would be the sign of a bot). It meant scheduling realistic sessions. For instance, the pattern of a couple hours on and a couple hours off would not be realistic, as a real person would need longer breaks for sleep.
While most people would consider botting cheating, “themadbotter” begged to differ:
I suppose I don’t consider myself a cheater. I didn’t share any hand-histories or real-time data and I was not part of a bot ring. I probably put in more hours studying sessions, opponents, and general gameplay than 90% of profitable players. Botting is easy, botting well is not. It’s not as if the bot suddenly turned me into a winning poker player. I was a good cash game reg before (on a different site) and a big part of the reason why I was able to construct a good profile was because I was a solid player with close to 2M hands of 6-max playing experience.
Eventually “themadbotter” claimed he was “just bored and wanted to troll” and asked for the thread to be taken down, but most think he suddenly got nervous that someone either figured out or was going to figure out his real-life identity.
After Nagy announced his intentions to clamp down on bots, though, “themadderbotter” returned to Two Plus Two, writing, “ACR CEO was on Twitch earlier and promised that at the end of the month, the site will become very bot-unfriendly — that botters will no longer be able to operate with complete impunity. Challenge accepted.”
Again, it sounds like Nagy doesn’t even care if non-botters get unfairly booted in the process. He said, “I’ll put it this way .. my sadistic personality…I’m gonna make it very very clear that other networks are gonna be much more bot friendly that ours. that’s…gimme 30 days.”