The History of Poker Bots

Gambling games have always been stirring interest in probability, and many scientific institutions and math geniuses started developing automated solutions to understand the nature of chance and luck (bestselling author Adam Kucharski even calls gamblers the godfathers of probability theory). The first attempts to create a poker program are dated 1984. Since then, many improvements have been made, but until 2003, all the solutions were using chess-based models, which is not quite correct for games like poker.

Researches of the University of Alberta developed one of the first poker bots more than a decade ago, which was quite an impressive step in the history of technology. However, this bot couldn’t beat real people in any type of poker games. It was true until 2017, when a program (made in Carnegie Mellon University) actually won all rounds played with professional players, and who knows what will come next. There might be lots of possibilities to create applications using innovative technologies applicable to poker bots.

Bluffing and Imperfect Information

The trick of poker – and obviously, the beauty of it – is that it can’t be based entirely on calculations. All poker masters do count cards very well, but the core of any strategy lies in bluffing, reading the opponents, and predicting their actions.

For some time, approaches applied to chess were used for other games. However, chess is a perfect-information game, which makes it relatively easy to create a computer program to beat the brightest minds at it. As for the perfect poker bot, it should be developed with different techniques in mind, to be able to correspond not only to complex mathematical functions but to purely human ones associated with behaviour at the table. So, calculating probabilities should go in hand with a layer of artificial intelligence, able to learn from previous sessions and analyze all the participants, revealing their strong and weak spots.

Training Software

Looking at poker from a scientific point of view opened new possibilities for major poker brands and regular players. Canadian researchers started developing software for PokerStars in 2006 along with improving their poker bots technology. Training software available for those who wanted to improve their skills was a significant step forward.

At the moment, poker bots are even used for cheating. Simple programs that act instead of a real person may help to play multiple hands simultaneously. There have been so many cases of such bots entering online games during recent years that many websites introduced special policies of preventing the use of such tools. Now you still can buy poker-hand analysis software or a subscription for an auto-playing bot and a card-sharing module.

The Future Belongs to Machine Learning

The technology behind poker bots is continuing to improve, and this process is not entirely dedicated to the game itself: the most important part is that these enhancements can be applied to real-life problems. Many industries, including finances and healthcare, can benefit from using automated programs designed for better decision-making and in-depth analysis.

In many cases, programs like poker bots can surprise people, as they not only learn and copy from human behaviour but also come up with strategies people would never think of.

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