Is a PLO Bot Ring Infecting PokerStars?

Date: 2015-06-12
Author: Dan Cypra

According to a thread on Two Plus Two and a feature article on Part Time Poker, there could be a PLO bot ring infecting the virtual felts of PokerStars. As the original poster on Two Plus Two put it, "There seems to be/have been a bunch of accounts crushing MSPLO on PokerStars that are either bots or programs playing but with player inputs into the client."

According to Part Time Poker, "The players in question play Pot Limit Omaha at the $0.50/$1 and $1/$2 Six-Max cash tables and have collective profits of about $1.4 million. The accusation is based on analysis of the players' statistics. Not only do all the accused players exhibit pre-flop behavior that would be unusual for a human – squeezing far more often than the average regular at those stakes, for instance – but their statistics are uncannily similar to one another."

Charts posted on Two Plus Two show that the bot accounts appear to be acting similarly, while the bot and known human accounts appear to be acting quite differently.

According to PokerNews, PokerStars has confirmed that it's investigating the matter. An email from PokerStars read in part, "We have closed a number of these accounts which were found to be violating our Terms of Service. If you were deemed to have been harmed by unfair play as a result of these violations, you should have received a compensatory credit by now."

Part Time Poker added that the accounts purported to be bots are running above average in all-in situations and that of the 26 accounts accused of being bots, 16 are no longer active. User names accused of being bots included BOOTTLEGGER, IMissFender, Samanta81, and SusaaNIN.

As you'd expect, the reaction to the news of an investigation was less-than-enthusiastic. One poster on Two Plus Two wrote, "If this can happen for this long on PokerStars without being detected, other sites must be filled with bots since they have a fraction of PokerStars' security."

Last month, PokerSoftware brought you an article about automated decision-making software potentially being used at PokerStars sit and go games. The program, developed by Skier_5, was reportedly being used in high-stakes sit and gos, although very little is known about the actual software.

PokerStars added that it's unable to provide much of anything in the way of data about the PLO bot ring, if one exists, saying, "We are unable to disclose user IDs in the context of fraud nor offer comment as to why accounts we might have previously investigated may not have any recent activity."

If you've been following the poker industry for a while, you might recall that the UB and Absolute Poker scandals were largely unearthed by players on various online poker forums. Accordingly, Part Time Poker reminded us, "It's reasonable to wonder whether many (or any) of these players ever would have been caught by PokerStars without outside assistance."

Is it time, then, for PokerStars to ban poker software, including HUDs, on the tables, software that gives certain players an advantage over others? As one person put it, "PokerStars has essentially promoted the use of bots for many years. They promote the use of HUDs so that people will mass-multi-table… PokerStars' problem is that to get rid of bots, you also have to get rid of HUDs. For some reason, PokerStars wants HUDs and bots. PokerStars has killed online poker."

Stay tuned to PokerSoftware for the latest.

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