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The Poker Robots: More Than Meets the Eye?
There's a good chance if you've been playing poker for a few weeks that you've come across the term "pokerbot."
For those who don't know, pokerbots are computer programs that can play poker 24 hours a day and that are intended to make money for the people running them.
Bots are not a problem exclusive to poker, as there are numerous spambots in existence that illegally advertise for various products on Web sites and forums. In computer games there are bots that will mine gold in virtual worlds for their masters.
Fortunately for poker players, the bots that play poker are not the best players in the world. They have yet to master the intricacies of No-Limit Hold'em, especially in the context of multiplayer games.
Most skilled players would relish the chance to play a series of No-Limit heads-up games against a pokerbot.
The only area that pokerbots are considered to be talented enough to make consistent money is Limit heads-up, and even there, their dominance is in question. To make matters worse for the bots, Limit heads-up is one of the least popular games on the net - some online rooms don't even offer it.
All the major poker rooms like PartyPoker, Full Tilt and PokerStars invest in sophisticated bot identification software, and bot masters find that their bots can't usually operate for long without being banned.
Perhaps the biggest fear regarding pokerbots is having multiple bots collude against one player while sharing hole cards. On the plus side, the same security software that catches real-life players colluding will also catch bots.
It's worth noting that even if you have the misfortune of playing against a bot, it can be beaten.
Bots do not affect the game in any way other than how a good player might. Sometimes the bots are poorly programmed and it's possible to take advantage of them. Keep your eye out for patterns, and be wary of players who never use the chatbox (although that alone is not necessarily a sign of a bot).
Because bot-catching software is getting so advanced, bots are seen less and less in the online world. There's a good chance you will never actually play against one, so don't lose any sleep over it. You're better off saving that energy and using it to catch up on poker strategy.