BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: MARCH 22, 2011
Don’t Play Like a Poker Robot, and Don’t Use One Online, Either
If you could play poker like a programmed robot, should you?
What if you could buy a robot to play online poker for you? Good idea?
Will robots rule the world someday?
In so many ways, they already do.
Ray E., a friend of mine in West Virginia, was the first to send me a link to a story in The New York Times last week about how some online poker sites are clamping down on players who let robots play for them.
I replied that unknowingly I’ve probably played online against a poker bot or two, but never worried about it. Now it’s even less of an issue because the two large sites I use have begun kicking bots and their owners off the system.
I do feel compromised when I think an opponent is using hand-tracking software during the game, however. It’s legal on most sites and can put a non-user at a big disadvantage.
Here’s why: Details of every online poker hand are archived and accessible to individual players who want to study them. The online sites can collect your requested hand histories automatically, then e-mail them to you.
The tracking software does much more. It interprets an opponent’s data to tell you in a click how often he raises, what stakes he plays, whether he’s tight or loose and, naturally, if he’s a winner.
And that’s just scratching the surface of what the tracker provides!
I think online sites eventually will ban players from using the hand-history software because it creates such an uneven playing field, which could be bad for business.
I told Ray that poker bots and tracking software are two good reasons why you shouldn’t play predictably.
That advice brought back a memory for Ray.
“I can vouch for the power of unpredictability based on my experience as a 20-year-old college student in a friendly game with five or six Korean War vet students late one night at the kitchen table,” Ray recalled.
When he truthfully told them he’d never played poker, the others gladly invited him to sit in.
“My opponents also concluded that my state of inebriation at the time would quickly sweeten their pokes,” Ray said.
“Clueless and boozed up, I was a wild and crazy guy, as unpredictable as you could get. I was betting big on five card stud and five card draw hands that no sane person would consider — only to make my flushes, straights and trips time after time.”
“Before long, I had most of everyone’s money stacked in front of my wine mug,” Ray said.
Alas, the competition didn’t end well for Ray. A savvy opponent changed the game to Night Baseball, and Ray said he “lost it all in one hand because the rules were impossible for me to comprehend in my besotted state.”
So, the lessons for today:
* Don’t play like a poker bot because you’ll be too predictable. Besides, a data analytics expert who consults for PokerStars and Full Tilt told the Times that bots lose 90 percent of the time.
* Don’t use a poker bot because you could get banned from the site AND lose money.
* Don’t fret about robots ruling the world — maybe they can fix our messes.
* Finally, if you play poker drunk, leave while you’re ahead.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2011 RUSS SCOTT
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