Botting - Microgaming - Refund inc'ing

    • lnternet
      lnternet
      Bronze
      Joined: 19.06.2012 Posts: 782
      TL;DR

      Found suspicious play; investigated; reported; automated play confirmed; bots banned; players get a refund.
      Also: Botting is a massive deal, and for some reason this is not talked about much at all.


      Prelude

      Ever since the 2011 bot ban on Ongame (They were $500k pre-rb winners), We've been working to identify and report bots.

      In almost all cases the sites don't discuss any of this publicly. They do not even answer emails on the subject. Ongame never made any statement about this in 2011, but the accounts disappeared.

      Things went similarly on Party and iPoker in the past years. Reported bots, no response, accounts disappear. Despite iPoker working together with PokerStrategy employees, the last PokerStrategy news on bots I know of on iPoker dates back to 2011. And on Stars: they have a pretty solid bot investigation unit afaik, but in the most recent player meetings, which are non-public, this subject was not on the agenda.

      Why does no poker room talk about the huge bot problem?
      My best guess is the bot topic is a big publicity no-go.



      Microgaming 2015

      To my delight, Microgaming seems a bit more open on the subject.

      When a friend of mine first suspected bots on Micro this year and we went over some evidence, I contacted Alex Scott, Head of Microgaming Poker. He responded quickly and I was assured I was talking the right man.

      By chance I briefly met Alex in person in January, shortly thereafter I emailed him our list of players and a few points on how we identified the bots. They took the issue very seriously, and after only a few days this is the result:

      Alex Scott: Head of Microgaming Poker. 20.Feb.2015

      The investigation process is about 75% complete. We have confirmed that some of the accounts in your list (not all) have indeed been operated by bots. As you noted yourself, some of the accounts have the same playing style, and we have also identified other factors that make us certain that these accounts were not operated by humans.

      We have already locked and banned the accounts in question.

      Here is what we are going to do next:

      • We are going to confiscate the funds remaining in the accounts.

      • We are going to determine who was negatively affected by playing against the bots (i.e. who had a net loss against them). For each of these players, we will determine a fair compensation amount. We will then give this money to their poker room, who will credit them with the appropriate amount and write to them with an explanation.

      • We will allow anybody who had a net win against the bots to keep their winnings.We are going to investigate why we did not identify these automated players proactively, and improve our tools so that we don’t miss this again in the future.


      I hope you agree that this is a fair way for us to proceed.

      Because the number of hands played by the accounts in question is quite large, these next steps will take some time, so we appreciate your patience in the meantime.

      Best Regards,
      Alex Scott, Head of Poker
      Alex blogs here and tweets occasionally, show him some support



      So:
      If you have an account on Microgaming (Betsafe, Betsson, Triobet, ...) that was active in the past few months, you may be receiving a refund payment in the next few days.


      bots busted




      Online Botting

      This is great news. But everybody needs to understand that the doom of online poker through bots is full underway, this can't be pushed under the rug. Snowie is getting stronger as you are reading this. And the Russian programmers don't sleep much either, I heard.

      The shadow figure of how many bots there are currently playing online may be well into the thousands. FL HU is solved. CAP and SNGs are reasonably close to solved. 100bb NL is not close to solved, yet bots are crushing. If you believe there are no bots in your games, think again.

      For this reason we need to demand the sites to provide easy bot reporting facilities, and outspokenness of sites about anti-bot measures.

      Condemning data-mining and anonymous tables are not the correct policies when bot detection relies players reporting things.


      My Twitter
  • 14 replies
    • Swish29
      Swish29
      Bronze
      Joined: 06.04.2009 Posts: 263
      Thank you for the post.

      Originally posted by lnternet
      Condemning data-mining and anonymous tables are not the correct policies when bot detection relies players reporting things.
      Anything else players could do? I assume bots will also be able to improve their discretion in the future. Does it make sense to play poker variants in which bots are not crushing?
    • rompas
      rompas
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 12.02.2014 Posts: 2,375
      nice to see that actually someone trying to do something about bots and talking about it in public, wondering when we will see a similiar statement from ipoker....:f_rolleyes:
    • Post removed

    • Itsnevereasy
      Itsnevereasy
      Bronze
      Joined: 08.08.2010 Posts: 381
      You know it's a real problem when someone as good as lnternet mentions it.

      How did you identify the bots? Could you list all the criteria, even if you think they are obvious, for the players out there to keep an eye on.
    • metza
      metza
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.01.2012 Posts: 2,220
      Was it really worth it to abbreviate to inc'ing?

      I don't think so.:f_p:
    • mlatasrb
      mlatasrb
      Gold
      Joined: 01.04.2012 Posts: 2,720
      Why are bots not allowed to play poker? What a discrimination, just because they are robots. I think we as real players cant do much about it. There are many more guys who are implementing bots and sharing code, than there are guys who are working on bot prevention, and they will never manage to prevent bots playing.
      Most importantly, casinos dont really want to prevent them. At least smaller networks like ipoker, they would likely lose so much rake if they would bann bots, and then there wouldnt be so many players left in a player pool. Pokerstars can bann bots, since they have big player pool. but still pokerstars only manages to bann bots who just started being developed.

      I personally dont care if I play against bot or human. I see bot as another regular at the table. I care only about fish. And bot at my limit, shouldnt be much better than average reg, othewise he would likely play higher limit. Also It could be the case that bots are simply better than humans at all limits and that humans cant win at all vs them, but thats still ok, because there will be always fish. Also
    • Anomic
      Anomic
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.01.2012 Posts: 557
      Originally posted by mlatasrb
      Why are bots not allowed to play poker? What a discrimination, just because they are robots. I think we as real players cant do much about it. There are many more guys who are implementing bots and sharing code, than there are guys who are working on bot prevention, and they will never manage to prevent bots playing.
      Most importantly, casinos dont really want to prevent them. At least smaller networks like ipoker, they would likely lose so much rake if they would bann bots, and then there wouldnt be so many players left in a player pool. Pokerstars can bann bots, since they have big player pool. but still pokerstars only manages to bann bots who just started being developed.

      I personally dont care if I play against bot or human. I see bot as another regular at the table. I care only about fish. And bot at my limit, shouldnt be much better than average reg, othewise he would likely play higher limit. Also It could be the case that bots are simply better than humans at all limits and that humans cant win at all vs them, but thats still ok, because there will be always fish. Also
      I hope you're trolling. Good job, Paul.

      Originally posted by Itsnevereasy
      How did you identify the bots? Could you list all the criteria, even if you think they are obvious, for the players out there to keep an eye on.
      Would also like to know this.
    • metza
      metza
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.01.2012 Posts: 2,220
      Yeah how can anyone who actually plays online poker not understand how bad bots are for the economy. It does not matter if they are worse than average reg, if they are better than fish and win xbb/100 from fish that is x/bb100 that you can't win.

      I don't think its a good idea to discuss specific bot detection methods in public, as it makes the botters more aware of how to get around the detection.
    • lnternet
      lnternet
      Bronze
      Joined: 19.06.2012 Posts: 782
      Sorry I haven't been following this thread, but here is an update now:


      Microgaming players can expect refunds in the coming days. This is the email from Head of Poker at Microgaming, Alex Scott:

      We issued refund instructions to operators yesterday [05.03.0215], so victims in this case should have started to receive refunds to their accounts.

      As you guessed, these bots had a small winrate, but eked out a profit over a large number of hands. The result is that we are issuing refunds to hundreds of players, so it could take a little while for everybody to get theirs.

      In addition to the amount recovered from the bots accounts, Microgaming has added over €10,000 to the refund pool to ensure that players were compensated fairly.

      Sounds good to me!


      Edit: First confirmed payout:

    • adeee3
      adeee3
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.05.2009 Posts: 377
      Great news! :D
    • DrDunne
      DrDunne
      Bronze
      Joined: 29.12.2010 Posts: 3,338
      Interesting thread. I believe that the sites' lack of acknowledgement of this problem is most likely due to them thinking that it will have a negative impact on their customer-base, as mentioned in the op. However I also believe that this is a very shallow conclusion to make - ask any person who knows nothing about online poker and one of the first questions they ask (aside from, "but how much did you LOSE?!?!") will be, "how do you know you're playing against a real person?". If sites were to acknowledge the problem and provide evidence that they take continued action against it then I think it is reasonable to assume that this is only a good thing for their business, because (1) it addresses the question for new recreational players, and (2) it provides peace of mind for regs.
    • Anomic
      Anomic
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.01.2012 Posts: 557
      Reading how easily they refund people and how seriously they take this sure had a positive impact on me, I don't play there but I'll remember this for when I want to add an extra pokerroom to grind on.
    • maythany
      maythany
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.10.2011 Posts: 1,189
      Something similar happened to me when I was playing 1.50 9 man sngs at stars awhile back.

      I received a few emails stating that I've been compensated because some "players" were dishonest.

      Were these people actually human beings or were they botters?

      I do not know.

      I am happy that poker rooms are taking action against this poison.

      it's bad for online poker.
    • uglyboy88
      uglyboy88
      Bronze
      Joined: 19.03.2009 Posts: 305
      Heard about these things. Sad that there are still thing like that in poker.