Real-time analysis programs can be used by bad actors to gain an unfair edge in poker. What are poker sites doing to identify cheaters, and to keep the game clean and fair for all?
In the last ten years or so, poker analysis tools and software have evolved from quite basic stuff (e.g. poker odds calculators and equity calculators such as old-school favorite “PokerStove”, and trackers like Hold’em Manager and PokerTracker) to advanced and powerful mathematical simulation tools (“Solvers”) which can always find the “correct” game-theory optimal decision in any poker situation – whether that’s a bet amount, whether to jam or call an all in or whether to make a hero-call with one pair.
What are Poker Solvers?
Solvers are the newest high-tech poker analysis tools – made possible by the huge power of today’s powerful desktop computers. Solver software can mathematically answer complex poker questions in minutes or seconds – rather than the hours (or even days) required to run the same simulations in the past.
Poker Solvers are used to analyze specific poker situations to inform players of Game Theory Optimal (GTO) plays, as well as the expected equity gain or loss for each play.
Popular solver tools include MonkerSolver, GTO Range Builder, and PioSOLVER, while there are solver trainer tools which provide an interface for quizzing / training yourself in specific scenarios (e.g 3-bet blind vs blind pots) – using data which has been precalculated with a solver.
Using Poker Solvers in Real-time = Cheating
Using a computer to make your decisions while you play a poker hand is cheating. It is assumed by poker players that it’s “one player” they are playing against in a hand – not one player with a poker GTO super-brain attached – via a realtime-assistance program.
The poker community has reported instances of poker players allegedly using these powerful poker solver tools to cheat – by using them while playing (instead of for post-hand analysis) – and racking up sizable profits in the process, by all accounts.
A thread on poker forum TwoPlusTwo alleged that a German poker player, Fedor Kruse used a realtime solver to grind from micro-stakes to the highest stakes online (affectionately known in the poker world as “nosebleed stakes”) in no time at all.
What Is the Poker Industry doing to Identify, punish and ban users of Real-time Poker Assistance tools?
The online poker industry is constantly fighting a battle with those who would like to bend and break rules, regulations and terms of service to lock up profits – and whose activities may damage the poker eco-system (if “fun players” always go broke, they won’t play anymore- which is bad for the operator’s own profits, and bad for other players trying to find some action).
Poker sites try to identify bots, ban bum-hunters (players who won’t play against stronger players, but who stalk and pray the weaker players on a poker site).
GGPoker Network Addresses Realtime Assistance Threat
GGPoker announced in a blog post that they have installed processes to identify users of real-time assistance poker programs, and they want to emphasize that these tools are detectable.
“Through our upgraded detection methods, we have discovered a small group of RTA users on GGPN. We have taken immediate action on those accounts as we continue to develop our processes. The measures we have taken are commensurate to the frequency and severity of RTA use.”
The network boasts of taking the following action:
13 accounts have been banned and $1,175,305.43 confiscated (to be returned to players)
27 accounts have been banned with no confiscation
40 accounts have been issued warnings
The GGPoker Network Terms of Service address the use of real-time assistance tools as follows:
Also interesting to note is the ban on use of pushbot charts.
How Can Poker Sites Identify Players Who are Using Realtime Poker Solvers?
Poker sites can themselves use solvers, solver databases, and services such as real-time poker solver APIs like the one provided by AlphaPoker.org to audit specific hands / plays / play patterns.