In a shocking revelation posted to the PartyPoker Blog, online poker’s second-largest single-skin operator announced a massive purge of confirmed bot accounts.
In total, 277 bot accounts – which PartyPoker defines as “computer programs that are specially designed to play against human opponents or other pieces of software” – were removed from the platform between December 1 of 2018 and March 31 of this year.
Banned Users of Bot Accounts
As part of the blog post, Team PartyPoker sponsored pro Patrick Leonard offered insights into how the purge took place.
“Two years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible, but after seeing the security department first hand, the team working there and the tools they are using, I’m very confident now that they can tackle people trying to play against the rules.
In my opinion it isn’t worth somebody trying to bend the rules because, in the words of Liam Neeson: ‘They will find you, they will catch you, and they will ban you!’
Not content to simply ban the users behind the bot accounts, PartyPoker also seized $734,852.15 in account funds and redistributed the ill-gotten gains to legitimate poker players who were on the losing end of human-on-bot hands.
Pro Players Leading the Anti-Bot Charge
As revealed by the blog post, PartyPoker took a proactive approach to identifying suspected bot accounts.
The company created a dedicated Poker Fraud Team to compete at different stakes and variants, with the team’s objective being to detect signs of “suspicious activity.”
Per the blog post, PartyPoker’s Fraud Team classifies suspicious activity as follows:
“‘Suspicious activity’ can take many forms, signaling potential collusion between two or more players for example, and the use of bots or other prohibited software designed to give players an unfair advantage.”
And while PartyPoker has yet to unmask its crack team of bot-hunting specialists, the site offered a vague description that points to members having previous experience among the professional ranks:
“A collection of former poker professionals who are equipped with the necessary knowledge and expertise to investigate suspicious activity and aid PartyPoker in ridding the site of unscrupulous accounts.”
The Poker Fraud Team has been hard at work since being assembled. More than 75 percent of bot account closures since December of last year have been attributed directly to its detection efforts.
PartyPoker insists the bot cleansing will continue going forward. Furthermore, the site pledged to provide detailed updates on account closures regularly to its player community.
To that end, the site encouraged players to send any information about suspected bot activity to firstname.lastname@example.org, while promising to investigate any and all reports submitted.
Purge Period Aligns with Record-Setting Tourney Prize Pool
With a stated start date of December 1, the bot purging campaign coincides with last year’s PartyPoker MILLIONS Main Event.
Held between November 25 and December 5, the $5,300 buy-in tournament began with an advertised guaranteed prize pool of $20 million. And after five starting flights were in the books, 4,367 entries and reentries combined to generate a total prize pool of $21,835,000. In the process, setting a new world record for the juiciest online poker tournament ever held.
With the poker world’s attention fixed squarely on the MILLIONS Main Event festivities, PartyPoker had every incentive to protect its platform enacting the stringent bot eradication policy.
Botting has been the scourge of online poker for two decades running.
Earlier this year, popular podcaster and pro Joe “ChicagoJoey” Ingram published a series of videos warning his followers about suspected bot syndicates playing Pot Limit Omaha on America’s Card Room (ACR).
And industry news outlet PokerNews published a piece exploring the rise of bot accounts among the play money tables found on many popular platforms.