Review of Poker Bots for Sale

Here we will take a cursory look at the poker bot software products being sold online as of January 2014, and also stroll down memory lane and review the history of this interesting gadget. A poker bot is, of course, a piece of software that plays online poker for you on your computer. The exact purpose people use this software for tends to vary widely, but the two most popular reasons quoted are: 1) a cool toy that can even make you a little money, and 2) a tool for serious online poker players, one that can hold your place in a cash game without sitting out or play the first few boring hours of a tournament for you. The level of sophistication for the current products on the market is pretty impressive. Today’s bot profiles are playing solid and can be considered one of the “good” players at your table for all intents and purposes.

Bottom Line: If you only came to this page to see what the best poker bot being sold is, and you are not a computer programmer yourself, then what you are looking for is the Shanky Technologies Holdem Bot (sold at BonusBots.com). If you are a computer programmer, particularly if you know Python, you will probably be interested in Open Holdem, an open-source platform where you finish creating the bot yourself. There is also one hybrid product being sold call War Bot, the problems of which will be discussed below. But if you are an online poker enthusiast who just wants to check this type of software out and possibly get one to play around with, download the Shanky Technologies bot, read the Quick Start guide that comes with it, fool around with the 200-hand free demo, and join their support forum to read what the (rather large) community of users has been discussing lately. This is the only real choice at the present time. The Shanky product is excellent and has never had any comparable competition.

Poker Bot Reviews

Shanky Technologies Holdem Bot: As already stated, this is a one-of-a-kind product that is well-supported and user-friendly. There are two things which really make this software desirable. The first is the ongoing active support, which maintains the product and keeps it working at a good number of large, bot-friendly poker sites (ones who have long histories of looking the other way at bots). The second is the degree of user-customizability. That is to say, what control the user has over the actions the bot takes at the table after reading the situation. This is what makes Shanky such a breakthrough product. They developed a way for everyday laymen like you and me to have as much control over customizing the bot’s actions as a master computer programmer would have. It’s a simple language called PPL (Poker Programming Language) that uses terms most poker players are already familiar with. Most poker players with no programming background whatsoever are able to pick it up quickly.

Because of this, many unique profiles have been created by Shanky forum members and are available for anyone to use. Some are free, and some are sold in an active third-party marketplace inside the support forum (you do have to be a member and log in to see the marketplace boards). There is also an add-on software marketplace where members sell their own add-on software for the bot, which can do things like change tables for you based on criteria that you pre-set, or join new SNG’s or tournaments for the bot without you having to be there. Because the Shanky product is such an innovator in this field, no one else has bothered to try and reinvent the wheel and Shanky remains the primary player.

Open Holdem: This software comprises much of the other half of the market. It’s for geeks only. Even if you consider yourself fairly geeky, plan on spending quite a bit of time programming before you have something usable. The Open Holdem community is a DYI kind of a place and doesn’t lend itself well to trading or selling profiles. In 2012 they decided to try to add this element and developed a conversion tool to make the Shanky profiles work with the Open Holdem software. Despite the kinks, the converter mostly works and opens the opportunity up for crossing profiles from Shanky to Open Holdem. However, you still need to be pretty darn geeky to use it all.

War Bot: This is an attempt to sell the public Open Holdem + the Shanky Profile converter wrapped up in a neat-looking package. The idea is so obvious that somebody was bound to try it. But there are serious problems with this product. The package may look neat on the outside, but when you open it up you will find a bit of a mess. The instructions are not clear and the interface is lacking in user-friendliness. And the fact is, all this stuff is already available at the Open Holdem site for free, because it is all open-source. All they are trying to do here is create a friendlier-looking user-interface, and throwing a price tag on it to sell to an unsuspecting public. It may be worth it if they had actually created a user-friendly product for the layman, but they haven’t. It’s a shame they were so lazy, really. There is no support forum for this product, for what should be obvious reasons (all their customers would be openly complaining and exposing them for what they are doing).

Everything Else: Scams and garbage. At the time of this writing, I cannot even find another viable poker bot for sale. A year or two ago there were half a dozen additional products, but they now all appear to be gone. This is because they were mostly attempts at selling suckers “a magic box that makes money when you turn it on.” Software that couldn’t be adequately user-customized and wasn’t well-supported. These things come and go. They aren’t worth your time to look at once you determine you can’t make them play any way you want.

History of Commercial Poker Bots

This auspicious software category began when odds calculators became capable of reading information from online poker tables and giving advice based on the situation. Automating the tool to actually take the action being advised on the computer screen was the logical next step. The primary product in this category was called Online Poker Inspector. It now appears to be defunct, as their website is gone. The first bots were simple scripts that clicked the betting, raising, and folding buttons for you at the poker sites supported by Online Poker Inspector. These were mostly Fixed Limit poker bots, because OPI didn’t take in enough information to be able to make good decisions at No Limit Holdem (for example, being able to compare your stack size to the pot size, or the total amount you have invested in the pot to your remaining stack size).

The next poker bot product to come along was Win Holdem. This was the precursor of Open Holdem, and it’s still around. I suppose they manage to sell it to programmers who haven’t done their homework and learned about Open Holdem, which is much better supported and more advanced. It was the members of the Win Holdem community who originally broke away with their own open source platform. This all occurred about two years after Win Holdem came on the market.

That’s also about the time Shanky Technologies rolled out their poker bot, which was in the spring of 2008. Sadly, this wasn’t a great product because PPL had not yet been invented. In the spring of 2009, Shanky began selling their 2nd generation poker bot software (that uses PPL) and revolutionized the market. They are still going strong today. Shanky Technologies now also has bots for both Omaha-Hi and Omaha Hi-Lo for sale.

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Poker Bot Wars

Somebody once said that online poker is a modern psychological battleground. War analogies are not a new thing when talking about the game of poker. However with the rising popularity of online poker in recent years, one should also acknowledge the technology aspects present in this form of the game and how they have advanced. Odds calculators, database programs that track opponent statistical tendencies, and of course poker bots, are all part of it. Perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to online poker these days as a modern technological battlefield.

There are many players who still categorize the use of creative technology in online poker as cheating, incorrectly believing that it gives certain players an unfair advantage. Those who hold this viewpoint are of course players who choose not to use such technology as an aid themselves, and therefore they don’t want anybody else using it either. But that is a vain desire. They need to wake up and smell the hydraulic fluid. If you choose not to use any software aids, fine – but you need to be aware that other players do choose to use them and it is a reality of the modern state of the game. Accept it, or don’t play.

It is much more enjoyable to explore the technology and incorporate it into your battle plan as you see fit. Perhaps there are some people who still use VCR’s to record their favorite show, not wanting to be bothered with learning how to use something new. But anybody who has switched to the DVR/Tivo method will tell you that you are being an archaic fool to be so stubbornly lazy. Your TV watching experience will improve tenfold by embracing new technology instead of hiding from it.

Take the poker bot, for example. It is quite understandable why some players are upset about the usage of these programs in the games that they are playing. However, it is not the weak players who take this position. They are pretty much oblivious anyway, and don’t really care who they lose their money to. In fact they may actually prefer losing to bots, who never type insults at them when they make a 4-outer on the river.

The really good players don’t care much about bots either, probably because they play high enough stakes not to be concerned with them. If a bot shows up at their table, they will probably figure out how to exploit it somehow, just like they do with all of their opponents. The people who complain about poker bots are low stakes grinders. The reason they are upset about them is they increase the saturation level of other solid players, which reduces the exposure they have to the fish, which is where their income is generated. To put it bluntly, they want the bots gone so that the fish will lose more money to them and not to the bots. Doesn’t your heart just bleed for them?

The answer, of course, is to quit crying and get on board with your own bot. It’s like resisting getting a tablet computer – resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. You may as well make some money while relaxing in the hot tub, or let the bot play the first few hours of that tournament for you. Time to stop longing for the olden days. Very soon there will probably be an online poker room that has an official policy of allowing poker bots. This will be a huge step in the right direction.

Using a poker bot is a natural extension of the game of online poker. They are a heck of a lot of fun to tinker with. This will also hold true for a bot vs. bot environment, and there are plenty of human players that would love to take a shot at a table filled with bots. It adds a new dimension to the game.

For example, if you notice that your bot is getting raised off hands on the flop consistently, you can adjust the profile to start pushing with anything (in response to that flop raise) randomly about 50% of the time. This will make them think twice about bullying you, and sometimes they will call off their stack when you have them beat. After a while you can have the bot change profiles again to where it only pushes the flop with strong hands – and get lots of value from it. Tweaking profiles like this to handle changing game conditions is tremendously rewarding and something that can really make the hobby fun.

There used to be a television show called Battle Bots. If you have ever seen it, you know how passionate the bot builders were about their hobby. Poker bot wars are the same thing but can be done in your pajamas. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!

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Will Full Tilt Be Back?

The latest news regarding Full Tilt Poker is that a group of European investors is negotiating either a purchase or a bail-out deal for the struggling online poker company. In accordance with this, the licensing entity which revoked their gaming license is reported to also be negotiating a deal to let them resume operations. The FBI, who recently seized their “.com” domain in an massive online poker room sting operation,  has allowed them use of their domain again to post hopeful updates about the status of American funds on deposit there (although the domain-seize notification is still posted within the main home page frame). So does all this mean that Full Tilt will be back? In our opinion, don’t get your hopes up.

On the positive side, money talks. Full tilt was the second largest online poker room and generated a mind-boggling amount of revenue on a daily basis. With this kind of income potential, smart investors are usually able to pull enough strings and/or grease enough palms to put just about anything together. When hundreds of millions of dollars lie in the balance, it is difficult to imagine letting them evaporate into thin air if you have an opportunity to receive a slice of the pie by cooperation.

How then is this online poker operation shut down? Because some tax-haven island nation revoked a gaming license? How the heck can that happen? Give me a break, how hard can it be to simply get another gaming license in a multitude of similar venues? Why does an internet company even need a gaming license from some jungle somewhere? To run an internet business all you need is a domain, some servers, and software that works. Nobody even needs to know where the servers are located, and in fact they can be built on a “cloud” environment where the servers are located in multiple countries.

Something isn’t right with this. A company of this stature, generating this kind of money internationally, should not be able to be shut down by any one entity or any one government agency. The fact that it has been shut down screams mismanagement. To be certain, the company is insolvent. They cannot return the $150 million owed to USA account holders because they don’t have it. Which means they are blatantly guilty of misappropriating funds, or to put it another way, embezzlement.

It is easy to see how this can happen. This business had a lot of expenses and they probably didn’t see a real issue “borrowing” funds from player deposit accounts given the amount of revenue being generated and the amount of daily deposits coming in. However that creates an insolvent situation where you cannot stand a “run on the bank.” And once you start putting your fingers in the till, and living on credit, it becomes a slippery slope that is difficult to reverse. In the end the amount of money that they are actually upside-down  is probably frightening. But, with proper management, it may be recoverable given the revenue potential of a large online poker room.

As a potential investor, you would want to look at the net figure that needs to be recovered to be back in the black and weigh that against operating expenses and expected revenue. The expected revenue is where the gamble is. Their reputation has been tarnished. How many players will come back? You can bet that the first thing most of them will do is test the withdrawal button! So how busy can they expect the tables to be when they reopen their virtual doors? This will greatly depend on their new withdrawal policy.

If they cannot quickly process the flood of expected withdrawal requests, you can expect traffic to dry up fast. Which means they can either reopen with a limited withdrawal policy (like Cereus is doing) and expect a huge reduction in traffic as a result, or add all the expected withdrawal requests to the up-front investment expense. The latter method is better, but of course a larger initial cash outlay is a risk that many investors will shy away from.

We think that there is a really good chance the whole deal will fall apart. The majority of Full Tilt players were from the United States. To make up their accounting deficit they will need that traffic, which means snubbing the USA government and fighting a battle with the FBI by allowing American players and American banking transactions again. Cooperating with the FBI would mean trying to operate as a non-USA poker room, and paying the entire $150 million owed U.S. account holders in cash. That is a pretty big stumbling block. In the end, it might simply be too big of a mess to straighten out.

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