Saturday, December 22, 2007

Full Tilt Poker Makes Another Major Bots Bust! / Greektown Surveillance or is it "Geektown" Surveillance

Those last two words--"Bot Bust"--are becoming mighty familiar around here. I am not talking around the richardmarcusbooks world, I'm talking about that of online poker. Speaking of which, as we get closer to 2008, I have been hearing of a new bot programming technology on the horizon, one that will not only make detecting them more difficult but will also increase their intelligence, or I should say, artificial intelligence, to the point where they will consistently beat not only the best online players but Phil Laak as well! But I didn't say anything about them being able to beat Jennifer Tilly! What exactly this new technology is is being hushed right now, though some of my contacts in the online cyber world have promised to let me in on it once they now. In any case, the bots continue their incessant advance against whatever defense the online sites are throwing up on them. For now, the sites are fighting them off, but if the storming of the Bot Bastille continues, the sites may be backed into a cyberspace black hole!

Here's what's going on at Full Tilt:

Every once in a while I come across an article that makes me lol! Well, here's one with the surveillance director of the Greektown casino in Detroit is being interviewed and after hearing what he had to say, I think I'm about ready to jump
off this keyboard and fly to Detroit and slip in a few big moves!

Check this out and see if you'd be scared of some sword-swinging sleuth like this watching your moves in a casino!

Five questions with Greektown Casino surveillance supervisor Tom Jones

December 20, 2007

Tom Jones (no relation to the singer) is a surveillance shift supervisor for Greektown Casino, where he has worked for 8 years. Before that, he served in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He sees the worst elements that come into the casino, and it's not people out to cheat the business, he says. It's people out to steal from other patrons. He's got some good tips for ways players can avoid problems, and he's also got the steel to back them up -- literally. Jones, 40, paints miniature metal figurines and does live sword fighting in his off hours. He lives in Ann Arbor.

QUESTION: What do surveillance employees do? What types of things do you see on the floor?

ANSWER: We watch the casino and keep an eye on its assets. We look for the cheats, the thieves, the people who are trying to commit criminal acts against the casino and the other patrons. Most often, it's patron-on-patron theft at the slot machines. Someone leans forward and they're really intent on the slot machine. Someone comes by and picks up their jacket. You get that all the time.

Q: What can players do to reduce their odds of being a victim?

A: Sit on your jacket. Ladies, keep your purse on your lap. Keep it closed. Make sure when you get your ticket (from the slot machine), you fold it up and put it in your pocket.

Q: How did you get started sword fighting?

A: I have to blame my brother, Brian. He got me interested way back in junior high in "Dungeons & Dragons." Now I'm in Ring of Steel. It's a theatrical combat group out of Ann Arbor. Every once in a while, I get together with my friends and practice sword fighting. It's actually very aerobic and very good for your arm strength. We wear safety equipment; it's a very well-choreographed dance with swords. It's a lot of fun.

Q: When do you use your skills?

A: I do it for charity. At the American Cancer Society fund-raising relays, we set up an arena. April will be our first race next year. I'm covered with balloons. Kids pay to attack me with wooden swords and they try to knock the balloons off. I always let the little ones win. They get to chase me around the ring. After a day of that, you're like, "Get me out of this armor!" I had a kid who could not understand the rules and kept beating on my leg. I had a welt the size of a grapefruit. My fastest bout was 7 seconds; it was an adult, a 22-year-old. She got mouthy with me.

Q: How did you get started painting figurines?

A: My first wife taught me in 1990. I've done 350-400 so far. I do fantasy and medieval -- 12th Century to 10th Century. I also paint dragons and unicorns. Those are more challenging -- you have to use your imagination. For the re-creations, you have books. It lets me focus on one thing and tune out the rest of the world. It also steadies my hands; try painting an eyeball on a figurine that's 1 inch tall.
A few months ago Full Tilt Poker busted a number of "bots" operating in their mid limit Heads Up Limit games. A substantial amount of money was confiscated from the "bot" accounts and redistributed to the victims, and the bots were banned from the site.

Now Full Tilt Poker has banned a number of other "bot" accounts. Actually, they banned these accounts about a month and a half ago, but just started distributing the seized funds yesterday.

"Bot" accounts seem to either prefer the really low limit No Limit Hold'em ring games or the mid limit Limit Hold'em games (heads up). The rationale for operating bots in both games is easy to see: in the case of the low limit No Limit Hold'em games, you could employ a fairly basic strategy of simply pushing all-in if you held a certain range of hands. Due to the weak play at these levels, you are going to get called by extremely weak hands. Heads Up Limit Hold'em is another obvious choice for people employing "bot" technology because the artificial intelligence needed to play a heads-up game is presumably much easier to program than in a short-handed or full ring game.

A few months ago, a number of "bot" accounts were banned from Full Tilt Poker, including "japinthesack" and "beatme1." Hundreds of thousands of dollars were confiscated and returned to the victims of the "bots."

Now, Full Tilt has banned another batch of bots operating in the heads up mid limit Limit Hold'em games. One of these accounts is "pokergirl z", who has apparently had about $47k confiscated from her account. There were a number of other alleged "bot" accounts banned as well.

The owner of the "pokergirl z" account has been posting on 2+2, proclaiming her innocence. As I said earlier, her account was actually banned about a month and a half ago, but Full Tilt Poker just recently started distributing her seized funds.

Her account was initially frozen on October 12th. After a number of weeks of investigation, Full Tilt banned her account permanently, saying that they had assessed her hand histories and "playing patterns" and had determined that she was using an artificial intelligence program. As per their usual policy, Full Tilt is being tight-lipped about exactly how they determined that she was "allegedly" a bot, but one can assume that they use statistical analysis, timing tells and maybe even screenshots of her desktop to come to their conclusion.

"pokergirl z" is obviously not pleased, but there is no way for her to really do anything as Full Tilt has the final say.

It makes you wonder how many alleged "bot" accounts are operating on Full Tilt or any other site at this exact moment.