What stakes are the best computer programmed bots currently capable of winning at? And is it considered cheating and is there ways to detect them? Bots will only get better, is this a problem for online poker yet?

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    despite sharing many of the same rules, Limit Hold'em and No-Limit Hold'em are two entirely different game from a game theory standpoint. Limit Hold'em is pretty much fully "solved" and the best bot can play basically as well as the best Limit Hold'em players in the world. No-Limit Hold'em? There may be a few bots at the lower stakes on the poker sites which do not heavily track them able to grind some money, but there's no way a No-Limit Hold'em bot is winning a major tournament any time soon. The combinatorial explosion of possible game states is way too big (...) Jun 27, 2014 at 9:19
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    (...) in No-Limit Hold'em. And that is not just for today's machine: unless major discoveries are made in AI there's simply no way No-Limit Hold'em are able to compete with good players. Regarding cheating: yes, it is considering cheating and PokerStars, for example, actively chases bots (and confiscates any fund found on botters' account). They scan the memory of the computer, they analyse mouse & click movements / patterns / etc. Bots also have a very hard time on site where players can regularly change their screen names... Jun 27, 2014 at 9:20
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  • As of Aug 2019, the best poker bot that proved to win some of the best poker players in the world is the Pluribus made by Noam Brown and Tuomas Sandholm. They published a paper in one of the most prestige journals in the world - Scince. science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6456/885 (I don't have the reputation to make it an answer)
    – Cohensius
    Apr 7, 2020 at 7:58

6 Answers 6


From what I've heard and read, one of the most advanced poker bots is PokerSnowie, an artificial intelligence built using a neural network. That's only being used in training software though. As for online poker bots actually playing, and avoiding detection, on PokerStars for instance... I'm not sure. Any poker bot not based on a neural network is liking just playing a static maximally exploitative strategy vs. population tendencies, with pre-programmed adjustments for certain player types and frequencies. They likely can grind out a profit, albeit not a large one.

Certain Vegas casinos are also offering limit Hold'em machines where you can play against AI. These are built using neural networks as well. I can't find the article but a poker player/programmer spent years developing a limit Hold'em neural network that he fed millions of hands into, effectively teaching it the population tendencies. He then won contracts with some of the Vegas casinos for LHE machines.

I don't think online poker bots are a huge problem yet. It's fairly easy to detect them and PokerStars is quite diligent in that regard. They will throw up captcha's if their system flags someone as potentially being a bot. I myself have had to do a captcha while multi-tabling a large amount of tables.

And of course it's considered cheating. Once a computer program is taking actions for you, most poker sites consider it cheating. They'll allow software that helps you make better decisions, but anything that acts for you generally isn't allowed.

  • PokerSnowie is a training tool, not a bot. You can play against a PokerSnowie bot, but you cannot make PokerSnowie play in your place at a real online poker table. Oct 24, 2014 at 7:09
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    Lol, so, exactly what I said in the first 2-3 sentences of my response then? Oct 26, 2014 at 21:57
  • Whoops! Now I saw that. Sorry, my bad! blushing Oct 28, 2014 at 7:50

The Shanky Technologies Holdem Bot is probably as good as they are likely to get. Bots can't react to changing game conditions or individual player anomalies (like someone being on tilt) but they make up for it in other ways, such as discipline, stability, and longevity.

The Shanky Bot actually does very well in MTT's. That's what most of the players who have it use it for. It's efficient at stack management and obeying the preset standards of when it's time to start pushing aggressively.

Cash games are tougher these days, with or without a bot. But some Shanky bot users do well in them. As far as I know this is the only real commercial poker bot available, the only one an average person can use effectively. The other one is Open Holdem but that's more for programmer-geek types and does better at fixed limit games.

  • "Bots can't react to changing game conditions or individual player anomalies (like someone being on tilt)" - I would strongly disagree with this statement. An appropriately trained neural network could absolutely detect and adjust to things like a player tilting. The bot wouldn't "know" it was sporting a tilting player, but it could identify the patterns of events around a tilting player and adjust to them accordingly.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 1, 2017 at 18:06

98% of all bots and 90% of shanky Botters lose money. it is more of a novelty, that most tire of in a short time. There are a few hard core reg botters that grind a small profit by probably working just as hard as any player showing a profit. There is no pot of gold in botting , but for some is it a fun distraction from mundane playing for hours and hours just the break even. The big winners are the poker sites. Poker stars because of their policy actually have the best bots and botters on their site. The guys botting on there know how to stealth and program better than the commercial bots. therefore on poker stars where you think you are safe from bots, you are actually playing against the smartest ones...


There is this new software, Sagittarius ABZ which allows you to create your own strategy, as in you tell it how to play yourself! In my personal opinion, id rather 'teach' the bot how to play myself rather than blindly trusting my money with someone elses bot...

How good:

I cant directly answer your question given that its not exactly a poker bot but rather a 'poker bot creator' but i can tell you this: the main advantages are, unlimited patience, 100 percent strictness, perfect mathematics, and in the case of sagittarius abz it has a 'player type database' feature which allows you to play differently against different players, you can also see statistics based on each single decision taken and whether it was profitable over a series of games so you can keep tweaking your bot and improving it over time.

Capable of winning:

I've been using sagittarius abz for quite some time now on pokerstars. I began fiddling around with play money until I got a hang of it, so far I have created a strategy which i am actually making profit consistently for the last 2 months on a 6-max table cash game running on 4 tables concurrently (running on more than 4 table there is a good change ps will popup a captcha which you will have to be present on the PC while its running to enter it, I am not sure about other sites but i've heard they don't care too much about bots). I am still 'testing' it on 0.01/0.02c 6-max and make something between 2 to 5 eur a day before I step up to higher stakes.

Cheating/ways to detect them:

Yes it is considered as cheating. There are many ways to detect bots, mouse movements, previously detected bots running processes (blacklisted bots), randomly misplaced pixels to confuse the bot, similar game-play patterns (pre-programmed bots), and more, however the truth is a well programmed 'stealth bot' such as the one i use, its almost impossible to detect unless you hack the PC running the bot! So it all boils down to how many hours you play a day and how much you multi-table because a person playing on 8 tables for 48 hours is definitely a bot!

Problem for online poker yet?

In theory, the best bot possible will manage to play all its winning hands until showdown, and fold all its losing hands before losing too much money. This will not be a problem even if there are many bots around as poker is what it is, gambling. It is really the big picture that counts, how much money you are left with after subtracting your losses from your profits.



  • there are poker AIs that can beat NLH even the NL100 with 5-7bb/100. There are poker AIs that beat NLO and MTTs. Some rooms use poker AI to play near zero games to create games and generate rake from real players.

  • Playing poker using bots is cheating. BTW, you must understand that if the business has profit, it cannot be easily forbidden.

  • Using "friendly" bots in poker rooms is a nature of poker boom supporting. Moreover, beating bots is not a problem for advanced players. BTW, there are a lot of newbies that cry about money lost in playing with "bots". Of course, newbies are losing money against not only bots :)

Comment: Marketing around Shanky makes me laugh all days. Really, 99% of their profiles play with negative winrate (even on NL2) and 1% with around zero winrate. Saggitarius and other bot products are based on Shanky or Open Holdem. Believe me, guys that make money using real winning oker AI will never share their products but will earn money on poker rooms attracting new partners to the business.

  • It would be good to see some facts or supporting evidence to back up some of the things in this answer, especially the first bullet point.
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 30, 2016 at 13:40
  • If you are interested in the facts just for fun, I cannot help. But if you want to participate in the business, you are welcome! Jan 1, 2017 at 17:57
  • I would question in what capacity I could participate "in the business" - knowing nothing about me, what do you think I could contribute? If the answer is capital, then it would seem odd that you'd canvas for investment on a fairly low-traffic SE site and I'd have the question the legitimacy of that business... Just my $0.02.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 1, 2017 at 18:00
  • not your capital. your ability to contribute in the poker AI related business means you want to make money here. there are at least 3 ways of doing that. Write to flicky4flicky gmail mailbox. Jan 8, 2017 at 12:34

Bots can probably win only at small stakes if at all since the best players are not playing at small stake tables. Bots are not good at determining opponent strategy and adjusting their play for that. Humans do this all the time, even unconsciously. So Humans have an edge over bots, especially the good players. On the other hand, bots do not lose patience and do not go on a tilt! Is it considered cheating? Personally I would welcome bots at my table as it gives me an edge but it depends on your point of view.

  • "Bots are not good at determining opponent strategy and adjusting their play for that" - I would disagree with this statement for boys built on neural network technology, although depending on the level of sophistication, even a rule-based bot could be capable of defying this statement.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 1, 2017 at 18:08