Nov 21, 2017
Have Bots Destroyed Online Poker? Dan Cates Doesn't Think So
By RTR Dennis
Online poker bots have steadily improved over the past decade. And this culminated in Libratus defeating a team of elite poker pros earlier this year.
Perhaps players wouldn't be so worried if bots were relegated to competitions, like Libratus and another famous AI called Claudico. But more successful bots are finding their way onto internet poker felts.
Does this mean that bots will soon infest online poker and ruin the game?
High stakes pro Dan 'Jungleman' Cates doesn't think so. Speaking with Paul Phua Poker, Cates says that enough people are still playing bad poker despite the wealth of poker strategy available. Let's take a closer look at what Jungleman had to say along with if his thoughts ring true.
Cates Believes that Bots are Solving No-Limit Hold'em
Cates began his conversation with Paul Phua Poker by admitting that bots are well on their way to solving no-limit Texas hold'em.
"The fact that Libratus beat all these pros...firstly, it means that computers – or bots – are pretty much on the way to solving no-limit hold'em, or have solved it."
But the 28-year-old poker pro added that most bots aren’t as good as the one developed by Carnegie Mellon. "Of course, not all bots play like Libratus."
Jungleman also discussed how live players are still using less-than-optimal strategies. And this means poker will always be beatable in the live arena.
"Just because a game is solved doesn't mean everybody plays well at it," he said. "It's not as though as soon as something comes out, everyone has started using it or learning from it. That is not the case at all, as it turns out."
The "Solved" Limit Hold'em is Still Popular
Cates uses limit hold'em as an example on how even a solved game can still be fun.
"For example, limit hold'em, which is the game that I thought would’ve been dead long ago – because it was solved many years ago – is far from dead. I learned that when I was playing limit hold'em on PokerStars."
He added, "And I was playing [limit hold'em] in Bobby's Room [Bellagio] too, and people were [not] doing things that were clearly the easiest things in the world. Like preflop, they were just doing things totally wrong over and over, whereas if they just learned from the bot, they probably would not do this."
Cates closed by reiterating how many players lack skills, despite all the of the strategy resources available to them.
"So even though solutions come and go, people are not going to play perfectly. And that's very much the case."
Cates Seems Fixated on Players Learning from Bots – Rather than Using Them
Jungleman brings up some valid points in that not all bots play like the top ones such as Libratus and Claudico. This means that you probably won’t be facing a program like the one that took down top no-limit pros any time soon.
Cates talked extensively about live poker hands and how not everybody will use bots to learn with. The problem with online poker is that people are using AI to play cash games 24/7 and make profits. This is only becoming a bigger problem when considering that even average bots are far more advanced these days.
The good news, though, is that online poker sites are well aware of the problem. And they're doing their best to spot AIs and ban the users. This hasn't totally cleaned up the problem. But it's definitely helping to keep the online poker from being overrun by bots.
More on Dan Cates' Poker Career
Dan Cates is one of the greatest online poker players in history, having amassed over $11 million in cash game profits.
He began his poker career as a donk who busted his bankroll several times. Cates worked at McDonald's to make ends meet until he finally mastered the game and took off. He built his online cash winnings from practically nothing to $7 million in 2010.
Since then, Cates has added several more million in tracked online profits. And there's no telling how much he's won in live cash games.
Given that Jungleman only plays the highest stakes, he probably doesn't run into bots. And if internet poker ever does become too bot-infested, he can simply stick with the biggest live cash tables.