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.