Addicted to novelty since 2001

Pandora’s Bot Box Opens on the Poker World

This month’s Wired features an engaging article about the emergence of bots or automated players in online gambling. In particular, it discusses WinHoldEm and its inventor, Ray Bornert:

By fall, Bornert was ready to test his software. He logged on to a $5-limit hold ’em tournament on Paradise Poker and watched the program go. A crucial element of the test was to see how long the application could stay online without being detected. Eventually, Bornert went to bed – but the bot didn’t. The next morning when he checked his computer, WinHoldEm had won. It wasn’t a lot of money, only $30, but it proved a point. “I almost shed tears,” he recalls. “I know what Dr. Frankenstein felt like. It was a totally intoxicating experience.”

This will be a fascinating phenomenon to watch. Will innovation by poker hackers consistently pass the Turing Test? Will online gambling devolve into a game of who’s-bot-is-better?

When considering digital culture like this (or, say, copyright), I often pay attention to the ‘grey-market industries’ like porn and gambling. They’ve innovated on the Web for at least a decade, and often arrive at the most equitable solutions for companies and consumers alike. For example, have you ever heard of a porn production company suing a P2P user for pirating their material? Clearly the pornographers recognize that’s a loser’s gambit, and (despite the massive porn piracy online) still manage to make boatloads of cash.

3 Responses to “Pandora’s Bot Box Opens on the Poker World”

  1. gillian


    This is the grammar police, and you’re under arrest.

  2. Websafe

    Just finished reading same article, noted this quote:

    “Poker bots can’t make conversation,” [Moneymaker] says.

    I’m in my third year of working on a Pandorabot (, and I wonder why WinHoldEm can’t make small talk.

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