For the love of the game

I’m getting a lot of reactions to this blog, obviously people have strong feelings about poker bots. This is of course understandable but the most common point taken in these reactions is that we should not build bots “for the love of the game”. People are claiming that we are destroying poker. I disagree and coulnd’t disagree more. We are building a poker bot for the love of the game. If you claim that poker bots are destroying the game you obvously don’t play that well. A bot, at least of this quality, will never beat a good human player, it will only beat really bad players. If the bot does something it’s to teach the fundamentals of poker, if you can’t outsmart a machine maybe you’re just not cut out for poker. The bot plays only on statistics, it bluffs like a 6 year old and it can never learn to read you, it’s just a machine. Maybe in the future we might build a smarter AI but so far it’s nothing more than a beefed up calculator.

The challenge of building a bot is something you take on because you love the game of poker, it’s not a small task and it demands that you learn to do things by rules instead of by instinct, this is really hard and it has certainly made me a better poker player. Understanding the basics in poker is something most players actually skip to go directly to the fancy stuff and this is why a bot can still win. If you had just bothered to learn pot odds, outs and some basic statistics you would have beaten the bot every time, but you didn’t did you? How can you claim your love for the game to be bigger than ours when you didn’t even bother to learn the basics.

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Bot for Backgammon

As bots have always been one of my interests I have been taking a few looks at other games where botting should be possible. One game that I took an extra look at is Backgammon. There are a few differences between backgammon and poker that makes a backgammon bot a lot easier to build than a poker bot. If you have followed this blog you will have noticed our struggle with the poker bot and it felt quite relaxing thinking about a backgammon bot.

The main reason backgammon is more suitable for botting is that the game is more or less deterministic. All variables are known except the dice that adds the little randomness there is. The thing with backgammon is that there is a right way of playing it. You can’t be smarter or better, the best you can do is playing the game right and hope that your opponent makes mistakes or that the dice are on your side. There is an optimal move in every given situation. If there hadn’t been dice involved it would have been the same game as tic tac toe, if you play it correctly noone can win.

This makes it perfect for a bot, a bot will never make mistakes. As long as the bot has the correct algorithm or,  as in the scenario I considered have all the situations in the database and knows how to handle them, it will play an optimal game.

After a lot of thinking about this I realized that it is so easy that there has to be one out on the net already. A few minutes of Google Jockeing and I found it. It’s names Snowie and even does cooperation with some gaming companies offering backgammon. Well, it was an interesting day thinking about it at least.

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Increasing interest for poker bots

As you might be aware I have blogged a lot bout our Poker Bot Project. I decided to do a little searching on the net to see if it would actually be possible to sell our poker bot in the end and it looks like there is actually a lot of interest. After taking a look at Google trends and comparing the interest for poker bots compared to poker in general the bots are (of course smaller though) increasing during the summer compared to poker. A lot of articles about poker bots have been written the last few months and one of my favourites (because it is not very argumentative but sticking to facts) is Poker Bots myth or reality.

If you are interested too I’d like to show you the Poker Bot article series:

  • The Poker Bot
  • Gathering data for the poker bot
  • Post-flop
  • Cheating Party Poker
  • Why we wanted a SNG poker bot
  • Poker Bot Strategy
  • More rooms for the bot

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”Lucky you”

Every time I see an American movie about poker I am a bit disappointed. They are always a bit over the top, and it doesn’t feel credible at all. And there aren’t many movies being made about poker in the first place. There are some movies where poker is added to films as an element of an “under world” or a dodgy, criminal culture but that isn’t really what I mean.
What I have been looking for is a film like “Lucky you”. It casts Erica Bana and Drew Barrymore and is a really well made movie. The choice of actors was great I think, since they are both such good ones and nice to look at as well. They are easy for the audience identify with.
The plot is naturally set in Las Vegas, and the year is 2003. Here lives the poker player Huck who is gambling to win big. Even though he is good at what he is doing, he has yet to learn when to get out of the game. One day he comes across a girl named Billie, played by Drew Barrymore. Progressively they start having a relationship, while Huck’s dad arrives to the city. He is greatly played by actor Robert Duvall, and is a character that has a competitive relationship with his son. They are both high stake game players and since the WSOP is coming up, they both have their eyes set on it…
The real competition of World Series of Poker was actually in many ways similar to the one in the movie. They both had 839 players and the winner turned out to be someone who didn’t have much experience of the game at all. Maybe that says something about the forces of luck that are involved?

One problem with the movie is that it is a bit to slow. I think that it could have been ten minutes shorter and then it would feel more action-like. Also, the movie isn’t overwhelmingly credible; if Huck was such a great poker player then he probably wouldn’t be leading such a poor man’s life.
But the acting is good in the movie. Drew Barrymore proved already in indie flick Donnie Darko that she is a talented actress, and Eric Bana captured the audience both in The Hulk and in Troy.
All in all – a good movie, especially for someone that likes poker!

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Poker Blogs

I do a lot of reading of poker blogs. Not that there is always much to learn or news that’s interesting but it’s nice to read about other players games, how they do, things they think about. Thought I’d share the blogs I read with you:

Holdem Now

The earliest signs and where poker is believed to have started is in New Orleans around 1820.

Holdem Poker

Doyle Brunson is quite of an idol to me because of his many skills in pokerplaying. He was born in Longworth Texas in August 10, 1933.

Texas Holdem

One night in April I met with my friends in Barcelona for a marvellous poker game. We were four guys that went to Barcelona on vacation.

Poker Fanatic

When you start playing poker it might be hard at first and you might want to learn a bit faster then the hard way. In that case a book that teach you should be a great option and you should advance quite fast.

Holdem time

It started of with a kid living in Las Vegas with his father who was a drunk and an addict at gambling. The boy grow up with the image of his drunken father in his head and was thinking all the time that he was not going to turn up like that.

High Stakes Poker

Omega has existed since 1848 when it was developed in Schweiz. 1903 they got together with Tissot, which was followed by several other collaborations. It feels like Omega is the brand that has the most profound place in modern culture. Look at NASA, for example: they specifically chose the brand to be worn at the Apollo-assignments.

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The traffic on all the poker sites (data)

Found an extremely interesting article on how much traffic each poker site has. It doesn’t show the number of players or even the people using the client but it shows how many visitors their sites have. One interesting fact is that Pokerstars have a bit less traffic than expected. They are the pokerroom  with the most players but they probably just don’t visit the wibsite to often.

Well here is the article: Total Traffic on all Poker Sites

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More rooms for the bot

The seventh article about our Poker bot.

One of the big things when you want to avoid detection is not playing to long. Even if the bot can play 65 hours with interupts it’s not a good idea. This is a rookie mistake when it comes to botting and the poker rooms Do keep track of this. The problem for most poker bots is that since they don’t make much money they need to grind a lot. Solving this is not rocket science though.

Tactics for solving the “long grind”-problem.

Let the bot connect and disconnect on it’s own. If the bot logs on, sits down at a few tables for 4 hours before it disconnects automaticly it doesn’t look weird. It’s a problem that you can’t keep the account alive more than that becasue it will lessen your profit but it’s a must.

Let several bots play at the same room. The bot can run several accounts simultaneous without problem, the problem here is to have several accounts. You need more than 1 identity for this but it’s fairly easy. It’s important to keep track of what proxies you use for it too. Don’t want to use spammy ones so the best is to set up your own.

The smartest way is to expand in more poker networks. Let the bot play at several networks, with one proxy and 2 identities you can play 14 accounts as once if the bot can handle 7 networks. We had more identities than that and more servers to use but we still wanted to expand it.

Which poker networks do we select?

We decided we wanted to hit Ongame Network and Microgaming because they were already familiar to me. Ongame have among others, Betsson, Pokerroom and Pokerloco. Microgaming have among others Unibet, Doyles Room and Betway, all of the mentioned rooms where I have played or actively play.

The problem here is that Ongame Network banned Rakeback but there are sites there that can offer pretty decent bonuses anyway so we thought it a good choice.

Upgrade of the bot this time:

The bot now connects to 3 poker rooms with 1 or 2 accounts on each, it will play for 2-6 hours (you can set this number or let it be random). It makes 1 or 2 five minute breaks (they are a bit random long but aprox 5 min) each session and then it disconnects to rest til the next day.

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