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Old 04-24-2010, 04:22 PM   #1
widf
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ethics behind poker bot...

Sorry if this is the wrong forum for this... mods feel free to move it if it is

I am writing this under a gimmick account obv. I am a regular on one of the poker forums normally.

My friend (who is a computer science major) and I are thinking about writing a poker bot this summer... Mostly just for fun and to see if it is possible, but also with the prospect of making a little $$ on the side.

I am starting to wonder the ethics behind doing this... I mean I know poker is quite the grey area when we bring morality into the picture, but I imagine it is significantly different when a program is doing all the work...

Some justifications I have are:

- I would crush the low stakes games if I were to play myself
- The program would be very easy to adjust to, and as such the better players will be able to outplay it.
- The program will thus only be able to crush the bad players
- These bad players would be losing money either-way and would be none-the-wiser to the program


... I would like to hear peoples opinions before I start on this project.

NOTE: I am not saying that I am doing this for sure... I just want to hear peoples input
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:30 PM   #2
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Well lets hope you can beat the other bots out their and don't get crushed by the stronger ones, just try and find a table where you are not up against 9 other bots.
And yes it is cheating so you are taking a number of risks if you get caught.
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:38 PM   #3
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Lock and ban?

It's plain and simple fraud. Money doesn't pop into existence, every dollar you get is a dollar that someone else did not get. Wether it's a reasonable casual player, a serious winning player or the company, you used a dishonest way to shift the money from their possession into yours.

The only softening condition that I could concieve is if many people were obviously botting (might easily be true for some cases for all I know) and in practice they were getting away with it. Still not justification.

Many people might get angry even about the above paragraph, so I'll try to put things in perspective. What if a poker site banned the use of tracking software, but there was a popular freeware program moving around which worked on that website, and in practice everyone was using it? Wouldn't be such a fraud anymore, would it? In fact, if botting was obviously popular in practice, I would say it could even be justification.

Last edited by Vantek; 04-24-2010 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:43 PM   #4
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

I don't know, it's a bit grey to me.

Would it be cheating if he himself wrote down an algorithm, opened up an online game, and played exactly to that algorithm?
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

No.

As far as I can tell it wouldn't be cheating even if he used someone else's algorithm, as long as he was personally pressing the buttons.

Last edited by Vantek; 04-24-2010 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:47 PM   #6
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vantek View Post
Lock and ban?
I was expecting to get this response... Please don't lock this thread. I am genuinely interested in hearing about the ethics behind this... its obviously a touchy subject, but if I asked a question about "I'm about to rob a store, whats the ethical implications of this" the thread wouldn't get locked, right?

I'm not trying to get justification... in all honesty i'm looking for people to be angry and flame me. I want to feel the opposition before I make the decision if I'm willing to do it or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vantek View Post
It's plain and simple fraud. Money doesn't pop into existence, every dollar you get is a dollar that someone else did not get. Wether it's a reasonable casual player, a serious winning player or the company, you used a dishonest way to shift the money from their possession into yours.
Sure, but the same could be said by playing the game in person, no? .. I mean you go through the effort to learn how to play the game properly and you subsequently take money from the people who don't know as well.

If I know how to play well and know how to create a program to do it for me how is this any different?

The only difference is that i would not be physically pushing the buttons and making the decisions... but I did make the decision on how the program should play
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Old 04-24-2010, 04:58 PM   #7
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vantek View Post
Lock and ban?

It's plain and simple fraud. Money doesn't pop into existence, every dollar you get is a dollar that someone else did not get. Wether it's a reasonable casual player, a serious winning player or the company, you used a dishonest way to shift the money from their possession into yours.

The only softening condition that I could concieve is if many people were obviously botting (might easily be true for some cases for all I know) and nothing was done to stop them. Still not justification.

Why is there always someone who wants to lock and ban threads/people?

If you don't like it don't read it, why spoil it for everyone else.
Not everyone shares your view, which is a matter of opinion,and probably a factually wrong one.
Can you prove it is fraud?
If so do it.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:02 PM   #8
Vantek
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Oh come on, I wasn't saying that I personally want the thread to be locked. It's just that 2+2 is a poker forum and it most probably can't allow a straight admission of willingness to commit fraudulent activity in poker to go by, for business reason. OP wasn't very smart to say that he himself considers using a bot.

Quote:
The only difference is that i would not be physically pushing the buttons and making the decisions... but I did make the decision on how the program should play
Obviously that is the defining difference. That is the reason why you want to make a bot rather than play yourself to begin with.

Quote:
Sure, but the same could be said by playing the game in person, no? .. I mean you go through the effort to learn how to play the game properly and you subsequently take money from the people who don't know as well.
How can you even make such an analogy? Neither the bad players, the good players nor the company contest your right to the money you made in straight up play. None of them would put up with a bot.

I'll agree though, that the only reason why we can outcast botting is actually pretty much its limited frequency and a pretty clear distinction between botting and playing yourself. The first people to make bots were frauds, but once considerable number are out, it becomes mere inelegance. I don't even know if that might be the case in some sites or stakes. And if there were popular programs that were capable of guiding a clueless player through the motions of playing low stakes for a profitable result in real time, it would become gray as well.

Quote:
Can you prove it is fraud?
If so do it.
By legal definition? Come on, any poker site lists it as a part of the agreement. By legal definition though, some people using things like tableninja or whatever might be frauds as well. I am using common sense.

Last edited by Vantek; 04-24-2010 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:12 PM   #9
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

this is as ethical as fraud is.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:17 PM   #10
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vantek View Post
OP wasn't very smart to say that he himself considers using a bot.
Considers is the key word here... I am not doing this for sure, and if you can prove to me that it is immoral I will most likely not try and create one


Obviously that is the defining difference. That is the reason why you want to make a bot rather than play yourself to begin with.


Quote:
Originally Posted by uke_master View Post
How can you even make such an analogy? Neither the bad players, the good players nor the company contest your right to the money you made in straight up play. None of them would put up with a bot.
What about using sharkscope during game? or using HUDs... sharkscope is considered illegal by many sites, but people continue to use it during game. Is that also immoral and fraudulent?

The losing players may not contest it, but many of them do not have knowledge of the 'legal' programs out there... sure its in fine print on most of the poker websites, but do people really read these?

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this is as ethical as fraud is.
Please explain why you think this... I am genuinely interested in hearing why
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:24 PM   #11
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by widf View Post
Please explain why you think this... I am genuinely interested in hearing why
Because it is fraud. Or, in other words, "an intentional deception for personal gain". People think they are playing a person, but they are not, they are playing a bot and they make this mistake because you deliberately and intentionally defrauded them for your own profit.

Hence this action is as morally defensible as fraud is, in general.


Incidentally, you put my name in a quote someone else said above in your post.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:27 PM   #12
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

I think the best comparison is cheating in other games played for money.
Online poker may be considered as a game where people agreed to certain rules. You are breaking those in order to get advantage which defines cheating.

It depends on what you think about cheating in games played for money. Most people think it's quite bad.

Quote:
sharkscope is considered illegal by many sites, but people continue to use it during game. Is that also immoral and fraudulent?
I think yes.

How bad cheating is depends mainly on how much edge do you get. So superusers are hardcore cheating and using sharkscope is not that bad; multiaccounting, botting, colluding are all somewhere on the scale. I think you shouldn't be trapped into 0/1 thinking when it comes to ethical/not ethical.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:29 PM   #13
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Do you consider it ethical to violate the terms of service agreement?
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:35 PM   #14
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by uke_master View Post
Because it is fraud. Or, in other words, "an intentional deception for personal gain". People think they are playing a person, but they are not, they are playing a bot and they make this mistake because you deliberately and intentionally defrauded them for your own profit.

Hence this action is as morally defensible as fraud is, in general. .
I see what you are saying...

What about the general fish who has no knowledge of SS/HM/other studying programs that they have no knowledge of? People are using them and getting and edge over these fish without their consent or knowledge... I mean sure the sites have a place where they say these are legal, but the general fish does not read this and has no knowledge of it... is this any different?

Basically if it is different, it seems to me that the only difference is that the site says it is "ok" in some fine print on their website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uke_master View Post
Incidentally, you put my name in a quote someone else said above in your post.
oops... multiquote fail. Obv not intentional

add plagiarism to the list of unethical things I've done? lol
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:37 PM   #15
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by uke_master View Post
Because it is fraud. Or, in other words, "an intentional deception for personal gain". People think they are playing a person, but they are not, they are playing a bot and they make this mistake because you deliberately and intentionally defrauded them for your own profit.
Of course there are many other types of misrepresentation that go on. Some are condoned, others aren't. Multiaccounting has come to be strongly frowned upon, but for a long time was accepted and is a similar case of misrepresentation.

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Do you consider it ethical to violate the terms of service agreement?
This is a stronger argument, but it has always seemed to me that the ethics of the poker community sort of developed on their own, and where that fit with the terms of service, great . . . where it didn't, oh well. Things that I'm sure were violations of the terms of service for a while (multiaccounting Party skins to get around table limits, HUDs in the early days) were commonly accepted.

As far as I can tell, the real reason that bots are anathema is that they are seen as likely to be the death of the games. Good players that could beat reasonable bots still hate those bots provided they're good enough to beat fish. Thus, you are unlikely to find a community of poker players that will support it.

Regardless of whether your preferred ethical framework is legalistic or based on the norms of the community, you're going to have a very difficult time justifying a bot. Which is too bad, because I too have thought it would be a fun project to work on. But there's not much point in building it if I can't test it, and I don't think testing it is right at this point unfortunately.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:38 PM   #16
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

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Originally Posted by punter11235 View Post
How bad cheating is depends mainly on how much edge do you get. So superusers are hardcore cheating and using sharkscope is not that bad; multiaccounting, botting, colluding are all somewhere on the scale. I think you shouldn't be trapped into 0/1 thinking when it comes to ethical/not ethical.
Ok for sure... i like the way you put this

that being said, where does creating a bot fall on this scale IYO? OBV not as bad as superuser, and obv worse that SS... but is it bad enough that I should feel totally unjustified and wrong for doing it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron W. View Post
Do you consider it ethical to violate the terms of service agreement?
Yes but only to an extent... i'm not sure to what extent that's why i posted here... the quote i have from punter is a good answer to this question. there is a scale and I'm not sure how far on the "its bad" scale this lies
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:49 PM   #17
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gumpzilla View Post
Regardless of whether your preferred ethical framework is legalistic or based on the norms of the community, you're going to have a very difficult time justifying a bot. Which is too bad, because I too have thought it would be a fun project to work on. But there's not much point in building it if I can't test it, and I don't think testing it is right at this point unfortunately.
Didn't there used to be some IRC channels that you can set up to play poker bots?
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:54 PM   #18
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

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Yes but only to an extent... i'm not sure to what extent that's why i posted here... the quote i have from punter is a good answer to this question. there is a scale and I'm not sure how far on the "its bad" scale this lies
You might want to think through your notion of "ethics." You've got what is (apparently) a clear choice between "ethical" and "unethical."

This is not a situation where you're forced to make a choice between two decisions that are both "unethical" and you're not sure which one to choose.
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Old 04-24-2010, 05:59 PM   #19
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

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Originally Posted by Aaron W. View Post
You might want to think through your notion of "ethics." You've got what is (apparently) a clear choice between "ethical" and "unethical."

This is not a situation where you're forced to make a choice between two decisions that are both "unethical" and you're not sure which one to choose.
For sure...

FWIW, I do research on animals in a lab and I have gone over this type of thought process a lot. In relation to the animals: the amount of knowledge we gain and the amount of help we can give to humans down the road outweighs the suffering the mice endure. It is not 100% clear cut, but I have come to terms with it and think that it is a necessity.

W/ the poker stuff, the only 'good' that comes out of making the bot is monetary. I am aware that it is unethical, and that money should not be a drive which I am willing to sacrifice my ethics for, but I'm not sure how 'immoral' using the bot is.

For example, I would not conciser it immoral to create a program that collects all the lost pennies in the stock market... no one would be harmed by it in any way, and I would be able to live a 'happier' life (at least for the sake of argument...) Thus I would think this is relatively amoral

the poker is slightly different because someone is not getting that money that normally would, but no one is being directly harmed by it per se ... i think at least?
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:06 PM   #20
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Quote:
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I see what you are saying...

What about the general fish who has no knowledge of SS/HM/other studying programs that they have no knowledge of? People are using them and getting and edge over these fish without their consent or knowledge... I mean sure the sites have a place where they say these are legal, but the general fish does not read this and has no knowledge of it... is this any different?

Basically if it is different, it seems to me that the only difference is that the site says it is "ok" in some fine print on their website.
The difference is the source of peoples deception. When you ACTIVELY deceive a person purposefully for your gain it is fraud. When you use trackers and whatnot you havn't deceived them. They are the source of their own deception via their ignorance and your complicity in their deception is at best a passive one.

It can get slightly circular sounding in the sense that in the game of poker there is an unspoken agreement that people ARE allowed to deceive each other. I can pretend to have a set but actually be a bluff. I can lie in chat. But the unspoken agreement as to what kind of things can be used to deceive people certainly does NOT include a replacing a person with a bot.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:11 PM   #21
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Hoping that the thread is still open when I complete my saurus post...

You know there actually are a few interesting problems here, although my answer to your original question is the same.

Obviously no use of any type of program on your computer is not enforcable in any way. Breaking of such an utterly unenforcable rule will always develop into a standard when it is profitable from the perspective of a normal person. And of course we'll see online poker collapse once AI gets the hang of it (not a long time by the looks of it).

I would say what makes botting different from HUDs or stuff like pokerstove is mainly that there is no gradient of degrees of engagement. For an example I don't think anyone would contest the use of a pocket calculator or a spreadsheet of poker odds. How about a more advanced calculator then? How about an automated powertool specifically designed for poker? There is a very smooth and natural (people use advanced calculation programs to assist them in other areas all the time) gradient and stopping at some point on the gradient is completely arbitrary. Same for taking notes. I don't think anyone would contest the use of a notepad to take notes on players. How about one with some automation though? How about a program that will extract the data from your hand-histories? How about one that will record and display it in real time? How about one that uses other people's hand histories? Again, a very smooth and natural (people use data management programs in other areas all the time) gradient and it feels stupid to stop at some random point.

Botting though? There is no gradient and there is no precedent from other areas. You make a program play instead of yourself and leave. And use of such a tactic is not really a standard natural part of a person's activity other areas. Still, even then I would say if in reality like 10% of all "players" at some limit is bots, adding one more would not be a big thing, just shady and lame.

uke_master has a decent point as well.

Quote:
Considers is the key word here... I am not doing this for sure, and if you can prove to me that it is immoral I will most likely not try and create one
Let's hope that this is enough to convince the mods lol.

Last edited by Vantek; 04-24-2010 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:13 PM   #22
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

^ I like the way you put that... In addition to that argument I think also comes the fact that NO player would be ok with there being bots present at the table, whereas if they were told about HUDs/SS etc they might be.

...

On a side note, the thing I keep coming back to is a more 'realistic' notion of what would happen (couldn't think of a better word than 'realistic'... i don't really mean that, but its there for the lack of a better word)... The good players who understand the game would adjust to the bot and crush its playing style, while the poor players would not. Those same good players will win vs the bot, while poor players will not. In the absence of the bot, the good players would still win and the bad players would still lose. Nothing would change for any individual except that there would be money flowing into my account

... after wording that ^ I feel like such an A-hole. Maybe i just worded it improperly, or i'm just trying to cover up the immorality of the whole thing, but at the very least i'd like to hear a response to it
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:17 PM   #23
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

@ VANTEC:

how about a program that acts as a bot (i.e. does everything the bot i'm proposing does) but instead of clicking the action buttons it pops the best decision up in my HUD?

basically it makes the decision according to the way its programed and tells the user to click the button... the human is actively clicking the buttons, but the bot is doing everything else

Is this any less ethical than having the program click the button itself?
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:25 PM   #24
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

Dude, you're obviously going to do it, and you're obviously just fishing for rationalizations. There is an interesting conversation to be had on the subject, but I don't think you're interested.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:25 PM   #25
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Re: ethics behind poker bot...

I don't understand why anyone would think this is a hard question.

Given that play is voluntary on your part and your opponents', the "ethics" of the situation are defined by the terms and conditions of the site, with the possible exception (I don't buy it, but some do) that if just about everyone's expectation is that a particular rule is being violated, violating it may be OK, and the very tenuous argument (which I don't buy at all, but people make) that if no one else is harmed by it it's OK even if it's against the rules and people's expectations.

Botting is:
  • Against the T&C to which you agreed;
  • Not what your opponents (justifiably, for what it's worth) expect; and
  • Harmful to others (assuming you are making any money at it anyway).
So... what's the problem again?

Last edited by atakdog; 04-24-2010 at 06:27 PM. Reason: If it's that you need someone to say you're not a cheater, good luck.
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