Saturday, April 21, 2007

Update: Winholdem Release Notes released a new version of their popular poker bot software with a few improvements geared more toward ease of use than giving your bot a new edge at the poker table.

  • f$formulas.whf is Obsolete. A new formula file naming convention means your bot will always look for the formula file of the same name.
  • Confirmation Popups Removed. License and chair confirmation dialogue boxes can be removed via the options menu.
  • 4-color cards. WH Tableview will now display 4-color cards for easy recognition.

All in all a nice little improvement. Seems that WH support is moving ahead with client upgrades now that he's no longer supporting the never ending process of staying up to date on the poker room screen scrapes.

Official Release Notes at

Friday, April 20, 2007

7 Things You Must Know Before Using Online Poker Robots

Online poker robots are not easy cash machines. Before you begin writing your own code (or tweaking code you've purchased) you should consider that this will not be NEARLY as easy as you expect. Some points to consider...

  1. You don't know as much about poker as you think you do. I can't stress this enough. I was a winning player before I turned loose my war room on the online poker world. I played at mid-limits up to $5/$10 and $10/$20 online, and higher at brick and mortar poker rooms. However, the first thing I realized was that I take some of my play for granted. I did the right things, but I didn't know why. Imagine trying to teach another person to speak your native tongue. Sure, you speak it very well yourself, but can you explain past-perfect tense? Subjective pronouns? Probably not if you've been out of school as long as I have, but this is a perfect analogy for how you teach your bot to speak the language of poker.

  2. Nothing with this much earning potential is easy. Expect to spend hundreds of hours creating a bot that makes any sort of profit above the lowest of micro stakes. Read that again...HUNDREDS OF HOURS.

  3. Don't build a rule set, build a brain. You will never be happy with a rules based robot. Trust me, I've had several. They are a quick way to get up and running but you'll find a nearly limitless amount of situations to be faced in this wonderful game. It is inevitable that you'll miss some and make EV- plays at the table. Instead, concentrate on creating a brain for your bot that uses more information than your hand strength and number of villains in the hand. Any good player will take money from an opponent that can't think above the first level of poker (seeing his own hand only). Your bot is no exception.

  4. You don't understand variance. I thought I did when I began. I had Poker Tracker. I had tens of thousands of hands recorded of my own play. However, it is a whole new ballgame when you start recording tens of thousands of hands per day of the identical playing style and logic. I've had runs of 100,000 hands at break even, EV-, and EV+ all from the same bot.

  5. Security is paramount. Don't screw around and get your accounts banned. You are thinking, "Oh, it's just $50 I put in to toy around with penny tables. It won't kill me" $50 loss won't hurt you but take into consideration what that account may be worth in the future. 6 months from now after you've built a killer bot, that account may have a very large earning potential. What I wouldn't give to have all the accounts back that I foolishly squandered away.

  6. Don't be greedy. So you've built a winner...don't go and ruin it all with 12 hour sessions of 12-tabling. Both the site and the players will notice this. Also, don't think you can farm the micros mercilessly forever. If a human wins at the micros over a long stretch of hands, he moves up limits. Your bot should do the same. Do you expect a site to not notice that you've played 50k hands of $.25/$.50 poker every month for a year?

  7. Get a second opinion. Post hands to forums for discussion. Get a session review buddy. Do whatever you have to do to get an outside perspective on your bot's poker play. It's very easy to let all of your exposure to the bot influence your own game and theory. Resist the temptation to defend your bot's play automatically. You might be talking yourself into reinforcing a bad habit that it taught you.

Antigua Gaming Commision Open Letter to US Online Poker Players

This hit my email this morning, passed along from World Poker Exchange. Get involved!

Greetings Players,
As you may be aware, online gaming has been under attack by the United States for the last decade. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has successfully challenged the malicious prosecution of Antiguan operators in the World Trade Organization. The WTO has found that the US's application of its laws against Antiguan entities is protectionist and in violation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services. Now that Antigua has won the legal battle, it can use political support in Congress. Here's how you can help. Please email and phone your Representative in the House of Representatives and your two Senators. Remind them that the United States needs to abide by the decision in the Antigua-Gaming matter if they expect other countries to comply with WTO decisions in favor of the United States.

Here is a link to a letter to the USTR from Representative Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: PDF

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen eloquently noted, "...our failure to resolve this dispute may harm our credibility as we seek to press countries like China regarding their violations on a range of issues, including intellectual property protection, subsidies, and currency manipulation." She further warned, "In the event the United States fails to reach a satisfactory resolution of the Antigua dispute, it could provide China with an argument to ignore a WTO decision favorable to the United States."

Please send the link above to your Representative and Senators. Ask them to send similar letters to the United States Trade Representative. Let them know you vote, you pay taxes, and you think the United States should comply with the decision in the Antigua-Gaming matter.To contact your Representative and two Senators, follow the links below or call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and give them your zip code. Make sure you call three times.

We will continue to fight the legal battle, please help us with the political fight.

Thank you,
Antigua Online Gaming Association

ESPN to Broadcast World Series of Poker in HDTV Format

Starting in July, 32 hours of coverage will be presented in HD for the first time. The coverage will include the main Texas Hold 'Em event as well as other World Series events. The tiny "hole-card cam" that briefly shows what each player is holding most likely be unconverted. The upgrade makes "WSOP" the first regular poker series to be produced in HD.

Not the most influential news, but any little boost to viewership can only help us online players in the long run. With the problems plaguing the World Poker Tour (WPT) attempt at finding television network coverage, any increase in production cost for TV coverage is a great thing.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

YouTeller Launch Delayed

"After facing legal problems with NETeller, YouTeller decided to delay the launch of their new payment processor. "It is in everyone's interest that YouTeller will not be confused with NETeller," said Seed Capital spokesman Florian Schweitzer. If Seed Capital will not be able to make the legal situation clear the company will introduce an all-new online payment system next summer."

Interesting stuff. It's comical to think that Netteller's suit is based on YouTeller benefiting from their reputation. I don't think Netteller has much goodwill left in the poker community, to say the least. The US players need all the payment processors they can get without the burned out husk of what used to be Netteller pushing out new entries into the market.

I found this quote from a YouTeller spokesman especially interesting, "We are not interested in a traditional online payment system. We have developed a service that is tailor-made to the current challenges."

Call me crazy, but I've got a hunch we've already seen the worst from the UIGEA.

Full Press Release at

Winholdem Drops Free Site Support

As of the 13th of April, Winholdem is no longer maintaining it's catalog of free poker room screen scrapes. I, for one, am quite pleased.

I'm not afraid of many Winholdem users. The program itself, while powerful, is outside the patience or experience level of most that use it. However, I'm pleased to think that less of these amateurs will be flooding the rooms with their junk bots. Can I take money from them? Sure. Most of them, anyway. Unfortunately, though, these new botters often bring heat down upon us all when they reveal themselves as bots to the regulars.

Just last week, a Winholdem update broke operation at some site(s). It was hilarious to watch, for example, particular players timeout at every action then immediately sit back in the next time a flop hit the board. Whether it is a broken screen scrape, or a hackney table-hopping automation, these are the reasons why the low-skill botter is bad for my business. If enough of these guys wave the "I'm a bot!" flag, eventually the fish get wise, the site receives a ton of complaints, and now you've encouraged the site to add tougher anti-bot measures.

Good Riddance!

Ray states, "there are 3 basic opinions:

  1. i don't want to bot and i don't want others to bot
  2. i want to bot but i don't want others to bot
  3. i want everyone to be able to bot "

I guess I fall into #2 at this point in time. I'd be very happy to be the only bot in existence. However, I can see profit if #3 were true as well. I know, I know...everyone is afraid of bots but believe me when I tell you that there are just as many horrible bots as horrible players. If botting ever becomes accepted there will be at least a honeymoon period where every 16-year old with Comp-Sci stars in his eyes will be shoving losing bots into every poker room they can find.

Winholdem hasn't completely abandoned its users, however. They have access to a program called Winscrape that will allow any user to use their WH-based bot at nearly any poker room. While taking a few hours of work, scraping a new site for WH-compatibility isn't difficult. However, like most things surrounding Winholdem, clear documentation is difficult to find.

Official Announcement at

Phil Ivey takes SBRugby(Brian Townsend) for $400k Heads Up

Well, as many of you know Full Tilt Poker is the place to visit for high stakes no limit texas hold ‘em. Tonight rail birds really got one of the best shows in weeks. Renowned internet pro SBRugby (Brian Townsend), who recently won over $500k from Ram Vaswani, lost over $400,000 to poker pro numero uno, Phil Ivey.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

WTO Ruling Good News for U.S. Gamblers

If market expectations are any guide, the United States will likely end up allowing its citizens to gamble online. In the hours after the WTO ruling was announced, stocks in online gaming companies lifted. Investors clearly see the writing on the wall, even if the U.S. government does not.


Video: Poker Chip Shuffling Tutorial

I'm not one for big, showy chip tricks, but let's face it...if you sit at a table long enough, you are going to eventually fondle your chips. You might as well look like it isn't your first time in the casino.

Jesse Martin Takes Home Big Pot at Bellagio $2.5K NLH Tournament

April 15th, the traditional tax day for American citizens as many scramble to complete returns and get them to the post office. For the 331 players who bought into the Five Star World Poker Classic Event #9 $2.5k NLH, each hoped for a big payday that would complicate their tax situation next year.


Full Tilt Poker Rep Answers 4/17

Full Tilt Representative, "FTPDoug", popped in at the Zoo to answer some questions about Full Tilt's recent upgrades and their plans for improving online poker for their players in the future.

Information of interest:
  • New default fonts for all table sizes. Less eye strain for you grinders, easier text scraping for you botters.
  • The latest client shows a move away from being datamining friendly, as it does not elegantly handle tiling tables in play while keeping observed tables safely tucked away.
  • Pot-limit Hold'em will be spread up to $5/$10 soon. Possibly this week.

For complete details, and the ensuing gnashing of teeth by the unsatisfied masses, visit the Two Plus Two Poker Forum.

ESPN Reduces 2007 WSOP TV Coverage

ESPN sports network has released its taping schedule of televised events for this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP). If the schedule holds, ESPN will be televising just bracelet and final table action.


A New Era? The PokerBot World Championship

Ray Bornet, the creator of WinHoldem, has always been the most outspoken proponent of poker bots. Since the days when usenet newsgroups were the heart of online poker discussion, he's been challenging anti-bot discrimination. In recent months, Mr. Bornet has begun to shift his attention to a completely new form of poker: "Live-Digital".

Live-Digital is the term given to an event where the participants are physically present in the same location, but playing from their computer. As I understand it, any computer that can connect to Ray's proprietary PPRO server can participate and use any type of poker aid they'd like short of collusion. There have been pokerbot competitions before, most notably the University of Alberta's work, but Mr. Bornet has mixed it up in several distinct ways.

Live humans are allowed, even encouraged to play.
There are entry fees up to $10,000.

Now think of the ramifications. For the first time ever, we could see the poker equivalent of Kasparov Vs. Deep Blue. Exciting. I personally won't be attending. I do hold a Winholdem subscription, but I haven't used it for play in a long time. For $100/year, though, it's a cheap way to see what my pro bot competitors/peers are working with. Winholdem is easily the most powerful, publicly available pokerbot if you can get past the steep learning curve, but I've moved to my own proprietary bot long ago. I do credit Winholdem with pointing me toward the path of knowing what it is I don't know, as well as what it is I need to know, in order to properly operate a poker bot war room. Unfortunately there are a few things that are scary above and beyond the work needed to port my bot to PPRO server format.

  • Anonymity: Mr. Bornet is intent on pushing poker botting out of the shadows and is looking to publicize the names of winners. I cannot risk that. My income is at stake. I disagree with Mr. Bornet in the value of being named the winner, I guess. I can't imagine it being anywhere close to the loss of income I'd feel from having all the poker room accounts under my real name suspended and bankrolls seized. Plus, the net is full of tinfoil hat wearing wackos looking to blame anything for their losses other than themselves. I don't want that guy tracking me down, convinced I'm the reason he's bankrupt himself at Party Poker.

  • EV-: The event is taking place on a cruise ship for jurisdiction purposes. This adds expense and opportunity cost. There is a very small list of confirmed participants thus far and I doubt the larger purse events will even run. This only adds to the relative cost of travel and the cruise itself compared to buy-in.

It's a great idea, but perhaps a bit ahead of its time. Will it be the next WPT or even WSOP? Probably not anytime soon, but with Bluff magazine expected to cover the event and interest from the academic world rumored, the only thing keeping the PBWC from exploding is a celebrity face.

For more information on the PokerBot World Championship, see the official PBWC Forum.

Help! I'm American! How do I play online poker?

First of all, don't panic. There's a lot of lies being spread around about U.S. players since the passing of the UIEGA. This legislation did NOTHING to change the legality of online poker in any way. It is nothing more than an attempt to regulate the banking industry that surrounds online gambling. Yes, some companies have withdrawn from the U.S. market but almost all were publicly traded and therefore at a higher risk to any potential legal problems that may or may not be coming down the road.
I can't get through a single live game without a moron or two talking about how they "know" it is now illegal for Americans to play online. Rubbish.

YOU CAN STILL PLAY POKER. In fact, the largest site in the world, Poker Stars, is still open for play to U.S. residents. They support Epassporte, a neteller-esque e-wallet with all the features you'd expect from the neteller of old (although their customer support has been taking a beating in the forums lately). If that isn't convenient enough, many bank debit/check cards work without an e-wallet intermediary.

I'm not trying to sell you on Poker Stars, though I do play there. I use them only to illustrate the point. Thousands of Americans are withdrawing and depositing to online poker rooms every day. Go back to your old stomping grounds and sniff around the cashier page. The ease at which you can get back into the game might surprise you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Who I am...

I am a professional poker player. Over time, I will reveal as many details as I can in regards to the limits I play and the income I make, but suffice it to say that I make a very comfortable living via online poker. Yes, I run a "war room" of online poker-bots that do not tilt, sleep, or anguish over the tough calls.

I will not:

  • Help you make your own bot.
  • Sell you mine.
  • Reveal any information that I think will endanger my income as a professional 'bot player.

I will:

  • Offer an honest perspective of online poker from my unusual point of view.
  • Post news items of interest to poker players of all types.
  • Offer poker topics for discussion of interest to the bot coder/game theorist/mathmatical player

Now, I realize that I will be hated by most that would bother to respond to, or even read this blog. All I ask is that you give me a bit of time. As you learn the truth behind the paranoia, you'll find you have very little to fear.