Poker bots. The very mention of poker-playing computer programs usually makes serious grinders cringe.
In the past there have been black-hat programmers that developed teams of poker bots that would torment players in lower-stakes online poker games (especially in limit) and ultimately produce a significant profit for their creators.
Online poker site security is a lot better these days and can usually spot rogue bots but it has still left a very bad taste in some poker players' mouths.
Fortunately Neo Poker Laboratory has developed an A.I. they have no intention of ever using in real-money online poker games.
Instead the recently-launched Neo Bot Poker is a free-to-play online poker site where poker fans can test their skills against an advanced opponent.
It’s an interesting project and provides a glimpse into how an elite bot would act.
What is a Neo Poker Bot?
The makers of Neo Poker Bot call it an “Advanced Poker Artificial Intelligence,” which is really just another way of saying it’s a really good bot (check here for a great explanation of how poker bots work).
Neo Poker Bot has been in development for a number of years and the finished product has demonstrated excellent results against real poker players.
The showcase feature of Neo Poker Bot is that it adjusts its style of play based on your strategy. It learns. Basically it will analyze data it has compiled against you and act accordingly. For example if you play too tight, the bot will start to loosen up.
The software won an award at the 2012 Annual Poker Competition.
Currently Neo Pot Poker offers No-Limit and Limit Hold’em. Heads-Up is free to play while 3-Max and 6-Max are only available to registered users.
We found Heads-Up to be the most compelling format.
Why Should I Care?
It’s always useful to be able to spot a bot when playing poker online and Neo Poker Bot represents the next step in poker A.I. technology.
If nothing else it should give you a unique perspective on the patterns in your game and how people adapt to it.
It’s also just an interesting piece of technology in general.
Is it Good?
We played around with the Neo Poker Bot in the No-Limit Hold’em games for several hours and found that it was superior to most poker AI’s.
Perhaps the most surprising factor of the Neo Bot is just how aggressive it can be. Computer poker programs are notorious for being calling stations and only raising with the best hand.
That’s not the case with Neo Bot, as the program will put a lot pressure on its opponent and check-raises frequently.
The computer does seem to adapt quite well and it can feel like you are playing a completely different player in a manner of minutes.
We found the bot useful in identifying patterns in a player's game.
It’s also worth noting the bots never cheat and don’t know the cards that will be dealt or your hand.
The software is very simple, but for the most part gets the job done. It would be nice to have escalating blinds in future versions.
Is it Worth Checking Out?
Sure. It’s free and you don’t even have to sign-up for the heads-up games. It’s a surprisingly educational experience. Be sure to stick around for a few hands, however, just so the computer has time to build a database against you.
The computer sometimes changes its strategy in a huge way if you start to become predictable.
In addition Neo Poker Laboratory is running an online leaderboard for 2013 to see who can profit the most against their A.I.’s. Currently player qwer is leading the way with $22,030 profit (not real of course) in 3,139 hands on the site.
You can check out the software for free at www.neopokerbot.com.