Many gambling chats and news groups devoted to poker more and more frequently anxiously mention the so-called card-playing robots, known as “bots” in the nomenclature of the Web, that are being used on commercial gambling sites. Many players are sure that a number of gambling portals prospers due to the use of the special program, able to beat an above-average player, not mentioning a beginner. In a traditional casino you can always guess the weak sides of your competitor, figure out his strategy and etc, in a virtual gaming house there is no telling your competitor is a human, but not specially created program, “substituted” for a real player online casino games.
If that is true, then widespread of poker bots capable of beating an average player would pose a significant problem for the poker sector. Without the creation of a special system of verifying the identity and “humanity” of card players in online casinos, the business could be significantly undercut. This is an opinion of players themselves, and gambling figures, interested in further development of the online game industry.
Some skeptics say that, considering the complexity of the game and constantly changing strategies, the creation of a program that can read opponent cards using special screen scanning techniques and respond in real time is many decades away at best. The supporters of this point of view point to the variety of commercial programs that aim to help players, but with no actual effect. However there is a ready answer for all of these objections – in Canadian University of Alberta a computer poker research group has developed an artificially intelligent automaton known as “Vex Bot”. This robot is capable of playing poker at master level in a game with two players. The new system has already been used to test the frontiers of artificial intelligence, as it will be the basis for a commercial poker tutorial program. As soon as the news about robot creation was published in the media, the creators began to receive letters mentioning the danger of system use for the purposes of illegal gambling business.
Darse Billings who is the lead designer of “Vex Bot” considers that the probability of the use of bots on commercial sites is approximately 50:50, but he is also sure that all of the modern programs can unlikely match his creation, which is a result of a 10 years research work of a team of specialists.
The strategy of the game is difficult and to sit down and write a program that can beat a table of experienced human players is no trivial task, Billings said. According to his opinion, the biggest obstacle lies in the amount of information unavailable to the player and the need for the program to be able to employ a variety of strategies at different times, such as bluffing and laying traps for opponents, etc. Exactly for this purpose artificial intelligence was added to the system, capable of not only calculating probabilities but also line up the logic of the game, model its opponents behavior, etc.