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How AI Could Be Changing Online Poker

by Editorial Team
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Changing Online Poker

Combining strategy, skill, some luck, and a lot of bluffing, poker is a masterful game popular the world over. Poker, especially its online iteration, has also proven a fertile testing ground for AI systems. Tech experts have formulated algorithms to not only play online poker but also provide training, study human psychology, formulate and test strategies, and more. The impact of AI in online poker is immense but not very mainstream, at least not yet. Below, we look at how this technology is transforming the game and what it means for the iGaming industry.     

The History of AI and Poker

Although their most significant confluences are very recent, AI and Igaming share a long history. Innovators first created algorithms to play online poker in the early 2000s. Known as poker bots, they were one in a long line of computer programs designed to play online games like slots, baccarat, and blackjack. You can see more information here about the latter, its history, and how it is played.

Poker algorithms have only gotten better and more popular over the years. According to a new study by Legal U.S. Poker Sites, 93 percent of online poker players are in favor of AI use in the game. 40 percent of the survey subjects – 1,000 poker players with at least a 3-year experience – also believe AI improves their game, and 45 percent say it has made them better players. 

Online poker, however, is not always an easy game to learn, even for advanced AI systems. Poker involves a human component of strategies and behaviors like bluffing and variable decision-making that early algorithms found difficult to replicate. But while this is a significant obstacle, it has not stopped the foray of AI into online poker or the technology’s impact on how we perceive and play the game.  

AI Tools and Poker Strategies

If you have ever sat at a poker table, you know that strategy is everything. The best poker players in the world spend years crafting and perfecting a strategy that they then adapt to different table conditions to play their best game. With poker going online, however, strategies like bluffing have lost their sting.

AI has played a role in reigniting interest in these strategies. AI algorithms have learned how to use aggressive bluffing and advanced betting tactics to show up human players, forcing the latter to adapt in kind. Additionally, AI poker systems allow online players to exploit game theory optimal (GTO) play. Online poker players are turning to programs like Simple Postflop and PioSolver to test their strategies, run simulations, and come up with the best approach to high-stakes games. Years of honing a strategy can now be whittled down to a few moments in front of a computer, running strategy simulations. 

Training and Coaching

In the business sector, AI, VR, and streaming technologies have revolutionized how companies train recruits and employees, setting the stage for virtual training. AI has had a similar effect on online poker, providing a coaching tool for new and veteran poker players. Online poker players now have access to tools like PokerSnowie and Advanced Poker Training, which use AI to help poker players improve their game. These programs run training and simulations where poker players can practice their strategies. They then provide feedback on individual decisions, including offering alternative moves and post-game analyses. This democratization of the training process has opened up poker to wider audiences. 

Mixed Reactions and the Question of Fair Play

The impacts of AI on online poker are not all positive. The use of algorithms to play a competitive game continues to raise ethical questions, specifically about fair play. Naturally, many players believe that AI provides an unfair advantage to some players and limits the impact of human skill and strategy in winning a game. The survey mentioned earlier found that 1 in 5 players have used AI to win an online poker game. Meanwhile, the concern goes beyond ethics as participants in the same study report losing about $758 (millennials) or $1,025 (Gen Zers) on average in games played against AI.

Wrapping Up

Digitization and technology have transformed every industry, from iGaming and entertainment to medicine, entrepreneurship, and the postal service. So, it is only natural that such a potent technological advancement as AI would revolutionize online poker, one of the most popular online games in the world. The impact of AI has its pros and cons and continues to evolve. On the one hand, it adds a complexity to online gaming that humans are sadly incapable of and increases the opportunities for learning and engagement. On the other, it raises ethical concerns. Its full impact, however, remains to be seen. 

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