Can We Solve the Bot Problem? Poker Pros Debate Real-Time Solvers
This week’s Twittertainment reopens the debate on bots and real-time solvers. Bringing the topic back into focus was Rory Young, founder of Odin and Prometheus, two solvers that can provide game theory optimal (GTO) suggestions in seconds.
Young’s post wasn’t designed to promote the use of solvers or even debate their existence. For him, solvers are now a fact of life in poker and they’re not going anywhere. He wanted to discuss with poker pros such as Matt Berkey the ability of solvers to offer real-time assistance.
Some solvers can show you GTO moves while you’re in a hand. Young stopped short of offering this when he launched his solvers in 2021, but Odin now has that capability.
As explained in his series of tweets, Young believes that keeping a 20-second delay was hurting Odin, making it a lesser product, and jeopardizing his company.
2/6— Rory Young (@RoryYou59455440) March 7, 2023
Despite this, I chose to have 20sec delay for ≈2 years, to the huge detriment of sales and UX.
We employ over 10 people and we have families to provide for too.
Delay = awful UX; comparing sims side by side, changing spots, errors choosing spots on mobile - to name a few.
Tech Insider Blows the Lid on Solvers
Beyond the changes to Odin, Young wanted to highlight the current state of bot technology and the industry’s response to it. In his view, online poker sites aren’t interested in doing anything meaningful to stop bots.
He’s reached out to several popular online poker sites, including Partypoker, to warn them about the capabilities of solvers but, in his words, no one cares.
“I’ve tried to shape the industry in a responsible way, but no one cares. Including poker sites, with the exception of the major real-money site we worked with for ≈2 years analyzing HHs to detect bots/RTA,” Young tweeted on March 7.
For clarity, Young isn’t saying we should let people use real-time solvers. His point is that people should be aware of it, and major poker sites should be doing something about it.
“The onus is on poker sites to invest the money necessary to make cheating no longer viable for these bot/RTA rings,” Young continued.
Tackling bots and real-time solvers isn’t easy. Partypoker, PokerStars, and other online poker sites have been trying to reduce bot activity. Still, it’s been tough to eradicate them.
Bots Are (Probably) Here to Stay
For his part, Young and his team are working on solutions. Poker pro Vanessa Kade thinks this is a conflict of interest.
Wait, you're working on making a product to sell to the online poker companies, and urging them to invest more so they'll spend a lot of money on software to combat a problem your other product directly causes?— Vanessa Kade (@VanessaKade) March 7, 2023
This is next-level evil genius.
Like selling cigarettes and running… https://t.co/BTg9q0oKGl
Matt Berkey, who was called out in Young’s tweets, also had something to say. He’s been a vocal critic of bots and didn’t hold back in his response to Young.
The arrogance in this thread is preposterous.— Matt Berkey (@berkey11) March 7, 2023
1) Listen to the podcast, once I became aware that @GTOWizard wasn't on delay I lumped them in.
2) This victim rationality of "we need to eat too" as a justification doesn't garner the sympathy you think it does.
3) Someone trying… https://t.co/4T8lhabHIp
Industry Veterans Chime in on Modern Technology
Someone else who got involved was Phil Galfond. He too was mentioned by Young and, as well as defending his company, Run It Once, Galfond gave his take on the complex issue of bots.
We partnered with and launched Vision (formerly Visions) in early 2020.— Phil Galfond (@PhilGalfond) March 8, 2023
RTA was on our minds, of course, as we were also working on RIO Poker.
Below is a post from my co-founder re: the RTA-related changes we made, and the email he sent to all major poker sites: pic.twitter.com/FEdi7Cq2dK
Also joining the debate was Rob Yong. He’s an advisor at Partypoker, along with being a poker room owner and high stakes player, so he understands the gravity of the situation. He’s confident online poker sites will find a way to stop bots and real-time solvers.
From what I know I think online sites will be able to combat RTA, it’s wise for sites not to explain how though, same as players don’t say how they are using it, so feels like online poker be fine based on what I have seen— Rob Yong (@rob_yong_) March 9, 2023
A Complex Issue that Needs a Solution
Technology is constantly evolving, and Pandora’s box was opened long ago. Bots and software capable of making real-time decisions aren’t going away. The question, therefore, is what do we do as a community to limit their influence?
There’s nothing wrong with someone using solvers and training tools once they’re away from the tables. The problem comes when someone can turn on a program and let it make decisions for them. Can we ever stop someone who wants to cheat? Should online poker sites do more to deactivate bots? Or, is it time we accept that online poker has changed?
These aren’t easy questions to answer, and the latest Twitter debate won’t probably settle any arguments. However, the more debates we have out in the open, the more likely we are as a community to come up with answers.
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