March of the bots
Online poker platform Partypoker has revealed that it shut down close to 300 bots in the first quarter of 2019.
A bot is a program that is intelligent enough to interact with humans. This makes them a threat on gaming platforms because their algorithms allow them to beat human players. And players won’t know they are playing against a computer program.
Pokerparty announced on its website that it closed down 277 accounts that were bots between 1 December 2018 and 31 March. It has also redistributed funds amounting to $734,852.15 (£560,483) that had been won by bot accounts.
The platform said in its statement: “‘Suspicious activity’ can take many forms, signaling potential collusion between two or more players, for example, and the use of bots or other prohibited software designed to give players an unfair advantage.”
Partypoker stressed that it was doing everything to protect players so they can compete fairly. It has set up a fraud team to detect suspicious activity on its platform and take action against bad accounts. The team comprises a number of former pro poker players who are “equipped with the necessary knowledge and expertise.”
Cheating a big problem
The company said the fraud team was responsible for detecting more than 75% of all account closures in the first quarter. It plans to provide regular updates on how many bots it is uncovering. Players on the platform were requested to contact Partypoker if they encountered any suspicious activity.
Online cheating is a problem for all poker platforms and Partypoker is not alone in being infiltrated by bots. This week’s announcement comes on the back of the company stating in 2017 that it intended to beef up security.
In 2017, one of its top players, DukeofSuffolk, reported two counts of suspicious activity to Partypoker. In both cases, DukeofSuffolk suspected collusion. This was confirmed by Partypoker after an investigation and it closed a large number of players’ accounts.
Tom Waters, managing director, said at the time that lone players were secretly playing in teams “to collude against other players.”
He added: “Bot and collusion detection techniques can require a large number of hands in order to accurately analyze the information and identify rogue accounts. Therefore sometimes players are able to identify suspicious activity faster, depending on what they have experienced at the tables.
“We have sophisticated fraud control mechanisms in place that are continually being updated to counter new and more advanced fraudulent techniques.”
Partypoker was also subject to a wave of DDoS attacks by hackers in August last year. Other poker platforms were also targeted, indicating that nefarious activity against online poker companies is an ongoing issue.
Poker star backs fraud team
Partypoker’s ambassador Patrick Leonard said: “Two years ago it wouldn’t have been possible, but after seeing the security department first hand, the team working there and the tools they are using, I’m very confident now that they can tackle people trying to play against the rules.
“In my opinion, it isn’t worth somebody trying to bend the rules because, in the words of Liam Neeson: ‘They will find you, they will catch you and they will…ban you!’”
Leonard signed onto Partypoker’s team in 2016. The British poker star is a former world number one and is moving away from playing. His role at Pokerparty is mainly as an online brand ambassador, but he also appears at live events on the platform’s behalf.