Online poker bots are computer programs that are created to play online poker with the goal of beating other players.
One type of bots is a "house bot." House bots are used to fill games, since being a successful host of poker games is based on providing plenty of liquidity (i.e. plenty of games to choose form). The only poker site that I can confidently say used house bots was ProPoker.
House bots which are programs to beat the player are unfair, but poker bots which are programmed to lose money, or even break even could be considered ethical. Many brick & mortar casinos use their own employees called shills who play with house money to fill up games. B&M casinos though, are sometimes required to identify shills, if asked. I doubt online poker rooms would be so open about identify house bots, even if asked. This would simply fuel the paranoia about online poker being rigged. Many poker rooms would probably decline to use bots for this reason, even if they could employ them.
Another type of bots are "player bots" used by unscrupulous players to simply make money. There were whispers online about programs you could buy to use bots to beat other players and make tons of money. Most of them would sell for $50-$100. Most of these programs were reputed to be pure scams. Online poker rooms have strict rules against the usage of bots. Not only are they are bad for the poker ecosystem, since the bankrolls of many of the poker players will get siphoned off as profits for the bots players, but the bot users may actually be people who have no interest in poker at all, and will simply withdraw this money out of the poker ecosystem without allowing other players to win it back.
Another type is artificial intelligence bots. These are used for purely experimental reasons. Occasional articles come out that talk about the debate about artificial intelligence, to see if computers can be smarter than humans. Poker has always been a game which particularly attracted the attention of the AI world since poker is a game, unlike chess, where the strategy changes based on what information you possess.
In the early days, whatever poker bots did exist were probably disproportionately relegated to limit games, since the strategy for these games is restricted to general rules which could be objectively coded. No-limit hold 'em, on the other hand, would be an arena that would be much more difficult to create objective rules for. Furthermore, no -limit hold 'em is a game where many players probably didn't even have the poker skills to beat the game, let alone have the computer skills to convert the poker wisdom into computer code.
In the earlier days of online poker (back in the mid-2000s), I don't think that poker bots were something to spend your time worrying about. Many of these players losing players loved to claim the online poker rooms were filled with bots, but this simply wasn't true. Poker bots were used by losing online poker players as a type of boogeyman to scare off other players from playing online. Instead of being afraid of bots, these players would have been better off being afraid of professional players playing 24 tables at once.
As time went on though, and technology advanced, bots sometimes became a problem. Pokerstars and Fulltilt have both stated that they have had problems with player's bots. Any player suspected of bot activity would have his account shut down and funds confiscated. The money would be redistributed to the losing players. One of the ways online poker rooms reportedly scan for bots usage is that they scan for players who click the same pixel being hit over and over, which would be practically impossible for a human.
HPG ADMIN on June 3, 2015