I read that online poker sites disallow certain applications to be used during play. I'm not experienced with poker but I do play regular games and I assume these are the equivalent of "wall hacks", "aim bots" etc, right?

So what do these apps do? How do they help the player gain unfair advantage over other players? I'm not interested in a specific app, but just in a general explanation of what these apps are usually used for

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    Which apps in particular are not allowed during play? Some sites aren't compatible with head's-up displays like Poker Tracker, but that's often just an issue of compatibility and popularity (or lack of it) of the site. The biggest risk for cheating in online poker IMO is collusion between multiple players in the game rather than outright hacking of the site or client application. – Chris Farmer Jan 5 '15 at 12:51
  • @ChrisFarmer: on most site anything giving information about a deal currently being played are forbidden. Real-time odds calculator are forbidden. "Preflop folding bots" are disawolled (say you have configured your bot to fold, among others, 72o automatically for you when you're under the gun). Apps showing your opponent's range given his action (and given the flop) are disallowed. Real-time odds calculator in tournaments are very nasty: when the blind gets high and the stacks low, the game becomes much more mathematical. You don't want to play against bots making only EV+ pushes. – TacticalCoder Jan 13 '15 at 20:17
  • @ChrisFarmer: legit software like trackers & HUDs are allowed on most sites but that's because they only ever give information from past deals and never ever from the current deal. Anything scanning the deal in real-time and giving advices / infos is forbidden on most sites. PokerStars, for example, used to have (and may still have) a very long list of forbidden software. – TacticalCoder Jan 13 '15 at 20:19
  • Ah, yeah, that makes sense. I found the list of PokerStars prohibited software: pokerstars.com/poker/room/prohibited – Chris Farmer Jan 13 '15 at 21:50

There is certainly a number of applications that constantly scans the screen eg. the game tables, offering real time percentages for anything you might think, winning percentage, push/fold situations etc.

That is mostly, screen grabbing then computing the images grabbed with pre-grabbed images to find out what the current screen says. This can translate from community cards to stack sizes to active players in table.

I myself developed such a program not while ago that could grab the community cards, then compute me a percentage of winning based on my hold cards.

Things can't be really more complex since serious applications (like Pokerstars) don't give any other information, except their log files but that's legal to utilize eg. Pokertracker uses these logs files, doesn't do any really complex stuff like DLL injection and such.

Restricted apps like, say, Texas Calculatem do exactly this etc. screen grabbing+. Older SNG Wizard version (newer ones are supported) had a mechanism where one could create a scenario for push/fold where Pokerstars didn't liked. I didn't found it on newer versions.

In short, if an application goes the screen grabbing way and calculate real-time statistics is probably considered cheat.

You referred bots. These aren't so different by the way, they do exactly the same thing, although some AHK mechanism is in order to make them behave like humans. They're also considered cheat since they're basically AHK + screen grabbing application.

Personally i don't think they're worth the effort and $$. The information you get from them they can really be learnt.

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Another way these cheating apps can provide an unfair advantage is to suggest to the player what action to take in a particular situation, using the statistics it gathered against those opponents.

For example, if someone goes all-in, the app might say "You should call this, you'll win in 75 % of cases" or it might say "You should fold, the player is very tight so you're probably not a favourite here".

In these cases, playing poker is more-or-less playing on auto-pilot: you're just clicking on what the app tells you to click, without any thought whatsoever.

From a mathematical / statistical point-of-view, in the long run you'll win this way. This, combined with the fact that no particular skills are required to play like this, is considered to be cheating.

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  • "From a mathematical / statistical point-of-view, in the long run you'll win this way" - That implies there are artificial intelligences out there that beat humans. So far they only beat humans for heads-up limit hold'em. With mot AIs you use you will lose in the long run. – barq Feb 2 '15 at 20:17
  • @barq: The only way even good players can expect to win on average is to play worse players, or leave the table if there aren't any. At low-stakes games, there are enough bad players available that one needn't be very good to turn a net profit, though perhaps not enough profit to be worth a human's time. – supercat Oct 12 '19 at 5:27

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