Cliffnotes: I discovered NL bots on Full Tilt earlier this year and reported them. Full Tilt investigated them for many weeks and asked me to refrain from posting about them until the investigation was complete. At the end of March, the bots disappeared, almost assuredly having had their accounts frozen. A week ago, Full Tilt emailed me that their investigation had been concluded, thanked me for my help, but refused to provide any details about the bots or the investigation. Before I had a chance to make this post, the situation took an absurd new twist. The bot accounts have now begun playing again, presumably having been cleared by Full Tilt???
I apologize in advance for how insanely long this post is going to be. But because this thread will affect most people’s perception of the threat of bots and of Full Tilt, I’m going to make it pretty detailed.
I’ll start off with a picture. Here are the stats of four $200NL players on Full Tilt:
These aren't just NL bots, but WINNING DEEPSTACK NL bots. The threat that everyone assumed was a few years away is already here.
In January, I decided to make the switch from limit to NL. I took a few weeks off from poker, but I setup my computer to datamine the 1/2 NL tables on Full Tilt during this time. One day, I decided to observe a few tables with the datamined pahud stats showing so that I could get a sense of new ranges for various stats in NL. I was taking a look at a player with setmining-type stats. He played 14/7 preflop, but played very tight postflop. Then I glanced at other tables and noticed his 14/7 preflop and tight postflop stats at each table. But wait, at one of the tables the screenname was different. At first, I assumed the setminer had probably just gotten up, and the stats hadn’t updated yet. Then I noticed that the second screenname had the same stats at other tables too. Holy [censored] [censored]!!!
At this point, I’m thinking these guys are likely bots, but several of the stats could be coincidences. So, I took a screen print of the entire pahud list of stats (like above) for one villain and put it up next to the same print screen for the other villain. Oh my god, every single one is almost the exact same!!! These guys are definitely bots. I just sat back in my chair stunned, watching them for a while, trying to absorb the significance of what I was watching. Jesus, this was at NL even. It’s one thing to talk about bots, but it’s quite sobering to actually see them playing in front of you.
FWIW, the time elapsed from when I opened the tables to when I placed the bots’ stats side by side was about ten minutes. I say this not to brag but to show how ridiculous it was that Full Tilt didn’t catch them on their own with access to all hh's (and I wasn't even looking for bots).
After a while, I started wondering how many other bots there were. I looked through both the other 1/2 tables and my database for more possible bots. I found a bunch of other players with similarish tight tag stats and finally decided just to take a screen print of the stats for every player who was around 14/7 preflop (probably 15-20 players). I lined all the screen prints up and noticed there was a third player with the same precise stats as the first two bots. The other dozen or so players had many similar stats with the three main bots, but there were major differences in one stat or another. I put them in a list of “Maybe, but probably not bots” and started focusing on the players 1ForTheThumb, Full_Tilting, and Mariojr.
Over the next couple days, I started playing again and would observe the bots’ tendencies. -First thing I noticed is simply how much they play. They played non-stop for several hours almost every day. They put in more hands than anyone else at 1/2. They are probably some of the highest volume players on the site at any game at any stakes. -Next, I noticed that the three bots never ever ever ever sat at the same table. For players that play so often, this would obviously be highly unlikely even over short periods of time. Yet, they played every day for months without sitting at the same tables. -All three accounts would sit down and get up at the same times. -Their betsizing was the same. They would virtually always make a pf raise to the size of the pot, reraise to 3x the original raise, and always make a continuation bet of around 75% of the pot (regardless of the number of players or the flop texture). -The bots would “think” excessively long times to make every single decision, even trivial ones. One hand: bot limps utg, fish minraises, six calls, back around to bot who takes 15 seconds before finally deciding to call getting like a million to one. Also, they would cbet almost every single flop yet they would still think for 10-15 seconds before they made the cbet, every single time. -Occasionally, the timing went the other way. In one hand, I flopped TPNK HU against one of the bots. I c/c bets from the bot on flop and turn. On the river, I made an absurd blocking bet of $5 into a $60 pot just to see how the bot would react. The bot insta insta insta folds. The micro-second I clicked bet, the bot folded. Even if they had nothing, a person would still have to think for half a second to consider whether they should bluffraise my silly looking bet. After that hand I decided there wasn’t the slightest doubt, I was definitely playing against a computer. -They never chatted (in the first several days I watched). This would change.
Up to this point, I had been fooling around with trying to exploit their tendencies but with little luck. After all, they played tight and would often have a pretty good hand. Finally I decided that before I turned them in, I was going to spend an entire night trying to exploit them every single hand no matter how much money I lost. No one else knows they’re bots yet, and if I could figure out a good strategy I might be able to make some decent money first.
My grand strategy was to get position on them on every table, cold call pf with any two cards if they raised, then raise the flop or float depending on the board texture. They were very crudely designed (they didn’t even consider the number of opponents or board texture for cbets), so I figured they’ll probably need a fairly exact hand value to stack off with, such as >=TPTK. If they called my flop raise or fired a second bullet, I’d give up. Otherwise I was going to make a play at every single pot they were involved in and see what happened. I mean if I can’t beat a bot, I must really suck at poker right?
So, that’s what I did. And it worked. Bot opens, I cc with 93o, flop comes Q52, bet, raise, fold. Bot opens, I cc with J6o, flop comes 922, bet, call, turn 3, check, bet, fold.
Hand after hand. Bot opens, I cc, cbet, raise, fold. At a different table, cbet, raise, fold. Again two minutes later, cbet, raise, fold. Again and again. (Granted sometimes he would have too much hand to fold, but overall it’s working quite well.)
I proceed to use my expert strategy for 3 hours, playing 20-30 hands specifically against the bots without them adjusting. I even started doing goofy stuff like bot opens, I minreraise, bot calls. I cbet 1/3 of the pot, bot folds. Next orbit, bot opens, I minreraise, bot folds. I’m going to be rich.
After a few hours had passed, a hand comes up where bot cbets, I raise, bot reraises, I fold. Didn’t think too much of it, the bots’ are going to have a hand sometimes. Then the very next hand I play against a bot, same progression, bot cbets, I raise, bot reraises, I fold. Hmmm. Two big hands in a row.
Then next hand that I play against the bots comes down like this. Bot raises pf, I cc (in the hand I happen to have ATs), flop AQ3. Bot cbets, I call. Turn 6. Bot checks (clearly having a pocket pair or giving up). I bet pot hoping it is programmed to make a loose call with Q or pp. Bot checkraises!!!!! WTF??? I’m positive it’s not sophisticated enough to take this line or be adjusting to me. Then, it hit me -- Oh my god I’m not playing the bot anymore!!!!!!!!
I just sat there shocked as my timer was running out. The hand now proceeded into one of the more bizarre situations of “levels” thinking. It seemed the bot owner came back to his computer and saw that the last couple dozen hands he played were against me, so he’s now supervising it. He knows I probably have any two cards floating him for the umpteenth time in a row. So, if he thinks I think I’m playing the bot, then he could easily just have an A or even be on a complete rebluff. Then if I think he thinks that, then AT is a giant hand here. Finally I push, he calls with AJo and I lose. AJ??? I’m thinking there’s no way the bot is programmed to take a stackadonk line with TP2K here. I’m now 90% sure the jig is up. It was inevitable the bot owner would catch on, but I thought it might take a few days.
In one of the ultimate ironies of the whole situation, I set out to exploit the bots and ended up getting re-exploited by the bot owner (donking off two buyins in the three previous confrontations). Luckily he made it obvious for me. If he had subtly just called my raises and bet later streets or reraised me only every few hands, I might have gone on raising it with 9 high all night before I finally became convinced I wasn’t playing the bots anymore.
I immediately stopped making moves against the bots and decided to call it a night shortly after. The next day I sat down to play and noticed that all three bots were playing, one at each of the 1/2 tables. I began loading tables, then I noticed Mariojr got up. Then Full_Tilting sits out and gets up. Same with 1ForTheThumb. Within 60 seconds of my sitting down all three bots simultaneously got up and quit. (IMO, them reacting simultaneously to my logging in is by itself pretty damning evidence against them). Ah, I know -- the bots were playing unsupervised and were instructed to watch for my logging in so they wouldn’t get exploited. This same scenario happened many more times in the subsequent weeks. Since it didn’t happen every time, the supervised/unsupervised argument made the most sense to me.
I go ahead and start playing anyway. Two hours later all the bots come back and sat down (within minutes of each other). I decide to play normal against them and immediately notice they are playing way differently from the normal bot patterns (not cbetting every flop, check/calling more). Finally, I see the bot chat for the first time, answering some question by another player. Sweet, now I can be 100% sure I’m playing the owner now.
That night, on 2/2/07, I sent in an in depth email to Full Tilt reporting the bots. I detailed the bots’ tendencies (as written above), my trying to exploit the bots’ predictability, the fact that the bot owner is aware he’s been spotted by me, and the subsequent “reaction” by the bots upon my logging on. I attached a picture of the three bots’ stats (through however many hands I had at the time) and I also attached a picture of the other dozen or so players’ stats who “might be bots but probably not.” I asked to have a simple reply sent upon receiving my email so I would know it didn’t get lost in the shuffle. I also asked to be notified when the investigation was complete so that I could post it on 2p2 for everyone to know about. I received an email back 45 minutes later from the initial support rep saying that they had received the email and were forwarding it on to their fraud department.
So, I waited. Wasn’t sure how long it would take to freeze the bot accounts and investigate any further ones, but I figured it wouldn’t take too long. I was serving them the whole case on a silver platter. Maybe take a few days. Who knows maybe even a week.
I waited one day, then two days, five days, a week, ten days. WTF? I figured the picture of the stats by itself would have prompted immediate action. On 2/11/07, I wrote a another email to support and forwarded my previous email. In the email, I ask “it’s been ten days since I sent you concrete proof of bots and I haven’t even gotten a response. What the [censored] are you guys doing????????????” I figured if I didn’t get a response from that, I never would. (I did want to wait if possible until the accounts were frozen so the bot owner couldn’t get his money out fast and more easily set up shop again. If he loses the thousands in the accounts at least that will be something.) I also tried to pm FTPDoug, but his pm box was full.
I waited again. A couple days passed, then five days. Finally on 2/17/07, I got a reply from Full Tilt’s fraud department. The investigator thanked me (no less than three times) for informing them of the situations and indicated that the stats “were particularly useful and will definitely be used as this case progresses.” He urged me not to post on 2p2 as it obviously would compromise the active investigation. Cool, it sounds like they’re finally getting everything taken care of. I got an update a few days later on 2/21/07 saying they were still investigating the three main accounts and others, and that it may take some time to complete everything. Nice, it looks like they’re ultimately taking this as seriously as they should be.
Since the bots hadn’t been removed yet, I was still playing against them every night on every table. For the first couple weeks following the initial night of trying to exploit them, I treated them like any other tight player. Every once in a while I’d make a move on them if I was already in the hand with them, but I mostly avoided them and just raised their blind every time. I was pretty sure the bot owner was supervising most of the time. From what I could tell he was letting the bots play pf and against other players and then overriding their postflop action when necessary in hands against me. Since he chatted occasionally now, I would constantly say “nh” to him to see if he would reply (indicating he was watching the tables at that time).
Eventually, I started picking out one part of the bots’ play I could still exploit. They played very tight in the blinds, in EP, and in MP, but in LP they play semi-lag and squeeze limpers all the time. Looking at one of the bot's position stats, his vpip and pfr in middle position is 14/3 (I can post more pt stats of the bots if anyone wants to see them). In the hijack, his vpip/pfr change all the way to 18/16. In addition, they would always make a large, pot-size raise pf, so it would be four limpers to the bot and he would make it like $12 every time with whatever hand he wasn’t going to fold.
So next thing you know, I started reraising out of the blinds and floating again only against this aspect. The bot owner adjusted a little, but not even close to enough. He started getting agitated and would talk smack to me when he won a hand against me. But he didn’t stop squeezing limpers or start calling me down light or rebluffing enough (honestly I don’t think he’s very good at poker, he just lucked into a good winning strategy for the bots.) We end up tangling countless times a night for weeks. While I did end up profiting from these encounters, it was still very –EV to have them at the table. The bots were definitely good enough to beat mediocre players and would stack bad players all the time. I can’t tell you how frustrating it would be watching some 60/25 retard 4bet ai with TPNK and impale himself on the bot’s obvious set. [censored] you bot, that should be my money. [censored] you Full Tilt, why are the bots even still here?
At some point, I noticed that I wasn’t seeing 1ForTheThumb around anymore. Didn’t think too much of it, still seeing the other two constantly. Then one day I noticed a new player named 0_Drunkenboxer who plays 14/7 preflop. I pulled up his full stats and started laughing. Hi bot.
In general, I couldn’t believe that Full Tilt hadn’t caught them on their own. It would have been difficult for them to have been more obvious. They evaded whatever screen scraping detection Full Tilt had. Full Tilt didn't notice their table selection. With regards to their playing patterns, seriously an intern looking for bots just with PokerTracker and access to all of the hand histories should have found them on his very first day. What would a bot have had to do get caught???? One day I searched around to see if I found anything on bots and Full Tilt. I was astounded when I see a post on Full Tilt’s own forum with the title “Oneforthethumb is a bot.” Granted his support for the argument wasn’t overwhelming (7 tables, lol), but if he had at any point emailed to support about 1ForTheThumb then it is just awful that they didn’t investigate the account then. (Also, I’m curious myself how long the bots have been playing. That thread is dated 11/20/06. If any 1/2 players see the bot names in their hh’s from earlier than that, please post the date.)
So anyways, time drags on regarding their investigation. February ends, most of March passes. I trade emails every once in a while with full tilt’s fraud investigations department. I ask which accounts were found to be bots, if any additional ones were found, what’s going to happen to the money, etc. Basically they just gave vague updates that the case is coming close to conclusion, no ability to confirm or deny anything but indicated I should refrain from tipping off the bot accounts. They can’t say anything until it’s over, but would pass along whatever little info they're able to at that time. I keep thinking wtf???? It’s been over a month since they’ve indicated they’re investigating them and six weeks since I sent the original email. How can it possibly take this long?
I end up playing more live poker and not at all online starting sometime at the end of March. However, I left my datamining computer running. I left town for a couple weeks and upon returning I brought up the datamining data. Poof, they’re gone. All three accounts disappeared on 3/27/07. On 4/12/07, I emailed Full Tilt indicating that I still hadn’t heard that the case was over. I noted that I could see the bots got removed, so what’s the story? They replied that the investigation is still ongoing. Uh, what? The accounts have now been frozen for two weeks and they’re still investigating? (I assumed that the bot owner had tried to withdrawal while Full Tilt continued their crazy long investigation, so they had to freeze the accounts while still nailing all the details down.) They assured me again that they would let me know when it was concluded.
By now, it’s the end of April. The seasons have even changed since I reported the bots. I was more perturbed when the bots were still playing, but still how can it just keep going on endlessly. Finally I just decide, screw it, the case is obviously over, I’ll just post everything on 2p2. Why keep waiting?
It’s finally over. Weird that it took so long. Unfortunate that they wouldn’t provide me any details about any other bot accounts that got shut down too. Overall, pretty much what I expected though. Next chance I got, I would at last make the post and bring everyone up to speed on the bots getting removed.
I was wholly unprepared for what happened next. On this past Saturday, 5/5/07, I sat down to play a few hands online. I almost fell out of my seat when the first table I open, I see 0_Drunkenboxer sitting there. I open more tables and see Full_Tilting and Mariojr too. Each one sitting at a separate table again, all back to normal. I was completely floored. What?? Why??? But, how?? Am I hallucinating?? Wtfffffffffffffffffffffffdngknoasih;oghbawoisehighawoihesr’vgsperjbh’opej’thodpebroahjgkrnbesdgkjbekjbdrkgbvewers
Just seeing the usernames sitting at the tables again made me physically angry. What the [censored] has happened????? Timing-wise, the bot accounts have now returned shortly after Full Tilt said they completed their investigation. Did they possibly clear the accounts???????? After investigating them for months????? Did they somehow take action against the accounts without banning them????? Did they decide there wasn’t enough evidence to kick them off??????? There’s no way they could possibly be allowing bots to play on their site????? WHAT THE FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK??????????????????
So I ask you. Please explain to me how any of this could be legitimate. I can’t come up with a scenario that accounts for half the circumstances, much less all of them. If you can’t either, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to this thread and ask them why they’re allowing bots to play on their site.
After a deluge of emails, we can only hope they’ll post a substantive response on the situation or actually remove the bots. (FTPDoug must be reading this thread thinking, “Oh man, how am I going to spin this one? [censored] it, there’s no spinning that picture, we suck. Wait, and then we reopened the accounts?? What?? What?? Hmm, I wonder if Stars is hiring.”)
Maybe the bots’ stats are just millions of coincidences. Maybe there is some plausible reason they always sit at different tables. Who knows? But to me, all of this looks pretty [censored] disgusting.
However, I've heard of a guy 24-tabling 6max...maybe this is just a sicker dude? It's very improbably, but one dude's 30-tabling SNGs on a 17" monitor, why couldn't another be 40-tabling on multiple monitors. This would also explain the slow reaction times, and the strategy you described, coupled with his HUD stats seems extremely unthinking (my guess is he's c-betting 100% of the time he's up against 1-2 villains, and checks whenever there's more). A lot of players play that way though, even at 6max.
Quote: From what I could tell he was letting the bots play pf and against other players and then overriding their postflop action when necessary in hands against me.
To extend on this idea, I expect there to be a program by now that would take care of pre-flop strategy, and let the owner take over post-flop. I actually remember my friend considering buying one of these for Party Poker a little over a year ago.
Full Tilt is listed as a bot safe, detection free site in the instructions on a prominent bot maker's website and has been for a long time. Clearly Full Tilt does not take action and does not care in spite of their claims to the contrary.
Quote: Full Tilt investigated them for many weeks and asked me to refrain from posting about them until the investigation was complete.
Why don't they have a play history? What difference will a couple of weeks make? This sounds like they want to hold off bad publicity for as long as possible.
Suppose there would be a total of 40 bots on FullTilt. Bots can make very long hours, playing multiple tables. A bot could easily generate 30,000 dollars rake each month. 40 bots easily could generate more than a million dollars rake each month. It would only hurt the pro's, fish don't care enough, site makes money, bots make money; everybody happy but the pro's.
Normally i would look at a post that long, read a paragraph and move on to another thread, but that was very interesting. I will be emailing FTP about this and asking them for a response. Very scary to think what the games will be like as more and more bots arrive.
A very brief summary for the TL;DNR crowd: -Bots playing 200nl deepstacked profitably -They are semi-supervised and the owner may take over at random intervals -OP played the bots and exploited them and noticed that the owner would eventually come back -The bots got programmed not to sit with the OP -The bots played more hands at 200nl than anyone else yet never ever sat with eachother -FT did an extensive fraud check, froze the accounts, then re-opened them -This fraud check took about 2 months