Winning Poker Network CEO Vows War on Bot Usage

Updated: July 31st, 2016 by Dev Ops

One of the seedy backwaters of the online-poker universe has been thrust under a cold spotlight in recent days, following the supposed confession of a self-proclaimed “botter” on 2+2, followed by a vow by Winning Poker Network CEO Philip Nagy to stamp out all sorts of botting activity on his network’s sites as soon as possible.

winning-poker-network-logoThe wars between “botters,” meaning people that run automated, decision-making programs on poker clients in an attempt to profit against weaker opponents, has always been illegal and in violation of virtually all sites’ TOS’s [Terms of Service], but the activity has always been around, because it’s been something of a low-risk proposition for the cheaters involved.

There’s also the truth that most “bot” players as they exist on various poker sites just aren’t very good, though a dedicated player-programmer can likely tweak one’s framework to make it such a bot a mild but consistent winner at micro- or low-level stakes.  At the higher levels, bots are quickly identified and abused by experienced players who  recognize and exploit the predictability that most “bot” players typically display.  Yet botters’ ability to slowly suck away at some of the lifeblood of the whole online-poker ecosphere, meaning newer, less-experienced players, has always been something of an existential threat to the online game.

That’s where the latest salvos have renewed the online war between the botters and the sites they attack.  The exposure, via a 2+2 post from someone calling himself “themadbotter,” offered enough detail to provide the ring of truth to his claims.

Themadbotter wrote, “I have decided to retire from botting and focus my energy on something more meaningful. I have carefully timed this post after steadily withdrawing all funds from ACR [America’s Cardroom]. I hope to shed some light on the current economy of botting and to help people understand the relationship between botting and poker sites. Over the past 6 months, my bot has played 500k+ hands on ACR mostly at 50-100NL. With various promos and bonuses factored in, it has generated around $30k of profit. I can’t give much more details on results because, despite the fact that I don’t have any money tied up in the network, WPN [Winning Poker Network, where ACR is a prominent skin] still has all my personal information and I would prefer to remain anonymous.”

The post went on from there, and after themadbotter’s claims drew perhaps more attention than he really wanted to see in retrospect, he claimed that the above and much more was really a hoax.  Except the bulk of the post was detail-specific, including the sort of software tweaks necessary to make a low-level bot difficult to detect, so most onlookers figured the madbotter was for real, but had gotten cold feet after spilling the beans.

And that’s where WPN CEO Philip Nagy entered the fray.  The WPN and its leading site, ACR, figured prominently in themadbotter’s claims, with the self-proclaimed bomber using the typical rationales — the sites and networks tolerate us because we provide them steady rake.  Aye, but at a steep cost: the increased pillaging of all those new players who must repeatedly deposit to play.

Nagy, in a recent Twitch interview, has declared war on themadbotter and his ilk.  According to Nagy, he and WPN have “come up with the single biggest deterrent for anybody who wants to even think about doing bots.”  One would think that the unspecified deterrent involves an immediate seizure of all funds associated with the botting accounts, though botters have always advocated transferring oney out of the botting accounts as quicly as can be done without raising undue attention.  Perhaps Nagy’s plans also include increased scrutiny of such transfers and withdrawals, and perhaps the also include an increased focus on some of the many subtle ways in which bot-driven player accounts can be detected during live play.  (There are several.  But one has t be searching for bots to find them.)

The largest deterrent, of course, would also involve the public naming and shaming of said botters in addition to the above, though that carries some legal risks in the event of false positives causing innocent players to be banned or have their accounts frozen or seized.  And yet Nagy appears willing to take that risk, with the claims by themadbotter that WPN is “bot-friendly” putting WPN’s own reputation at stake.

Said Nagy, “I’ll put it this way.  My sadistic personality — I’m gonna make it very very clear that other networks are gonna be much more bot friendly that ours.  That’s… gimme thirty days.”

Do the botters seem scared?  Well, not if themadbotter’s single response on 2+2 is an indicator.  Wrote themadbotter, “ACR CEO was on Twitch earlier and promised that at the end of the month, the site will become very bot-unfriendly — that botters will no longer be able to operate with complete impunity. Challenge accepted.”

Challenge accepted or not, here’s hoping that Nagy and WPN succeed beyond all expectations… for the good of the online game.

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