Did Bots Steal $10 Million from ACR Players?
Last Updated: January 7, 2024
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen a number of stories related to cheating in online poker, not the least of which was the one exposing a “superuser” at GGPoker just last week.
Now, new allegations have been made against the Winning Poker Network (WPN) and its biggest site Americas Cardroom (ACR), with hundreds of accounts accused of being run by bots for a period of over three years.
According to TylerRM, a Two Plus Two user, the alleged botfarm was able to beat online poker tournaments at ACR consistently over 1.5 million entries and win close to $10 million in cash prizes over the period, over $3.7 million of which came in 2023 alone.
The original post came out with some damning evidence and a full list of names of the suspected bot accounts that have apparently defrauded the poker community of millions of dollars.
The post sparked a massive debate in the poker world, leading to WPN CEO Phil Nagy and ACR Ambassadors to step forward and give their take on the situation that could just be the biggest scandal in poker since the old days.
If you are not yet fully familiar with the story, we dissect exactly what happened and try to get to the bottom of things as the situation continues to develop on a daily basis.
New Botting Allegations at ACR
For a long time now, poker players left and right have been accusing operators of running bots or allowing others to do so on their platforms, with ACR often being at the center of these attacks.
Some of the accusations have been baseless claims by losing players who could not justify their losses to themselves, while others were legitimate concerns raised by industry insiders like Joey Ingram.
In the case of ACR specifically, it is clear that the site had bots running on it for periods of time, but the exact extent of such operations was never fully revealed.
Image source: 2+2
What’s even more, ACR has done a lot to fight bots and increase security of the site over the years, and for the most part it appeared that games at ACR are reasonably safe, although some players continued to claim that there is a massive bot farm operating there.
The new allegation claims that a few hundred accounts in all, some of which are inactive at this time, have been operating on the WPN and stealing millions of dollars from the poker community.
The one thing that’s changed between now and some years back is that poker software has become a lot better and it is now a lot more possible to create poker bots that could beat real players at the game.
The alleged botfarm was only able to break a 15% ROI over the 1.5 million entries according to the accusations, but even this kind of a result would still be highly damaging to the poker world in the long run.
Should these bots be allowed to keep operating and improving over the years, it could get to a point where bots are beating the games for such high win rates that playing the game online no longer makes any sense for the real players.
Phil Nagy Responds to the Accusations
In the wake of the botting accusations, WPN CEO Phil Nagy himself came out and spoke on the situation, making quite a comprehensive statement.
In his statement, Nagy claimed that over half of the accounts accused of botting were cleared of any wrongdoing by ACR’s security team, many others were inactive and shut down due to inactivity, and only a few were banned due to failure to respond to the security team or inability to pass the security checks.
Nagy further reiterated all the various ways in which ACR combats cheating in poker and invited other operators to work with them to battle such things together, an overall positive statement and sentiment from the man who has the most to gain or lose from ACR’s success or failure.
However, Phil did not provide any concrete evidence that these accounts were not bots, and mere words would no longer be enough to soothe the enraged poker community on social media platforms like X.
ACR Doubles Down and Offers $100k to Anyone Creating a Working Bot
Responding on behalf of ACR was the operator’s ambassador Chris Moneymaker, who went on a live stream with Ebony Kenney and invited anyone capable of creating a working bot on ACR to do just that.
Chris offered a $100k bonus to the first person who can do so, along with a job at WPN. All one needed to do was create a working bot and have it play 5,000 hands on the platform.
Think we got a bot problem? We don't. Prove us wrong and win 100k. Check the video for details.— ACR Poker (@ACR_POKER) January 5, 2024
1 winner only 👉 READY… SET… GO 💪 pic.twitter.com/ta6k9rEvlM
If you could create a bot and prove you had it running on ACR for 5k hands, you could have won the money and a job at WPN instantly according to the original offer.
While the folks at ACR were simply trying to double down on their claims that the site was safe and their security could not be so easily broken, many in the online poker world saw the whole challenge as a huge negative and gave it a lot of hate on social platforms.
In fact, the challenge was taken so badly by the overwhelming majority of people in poker that ACR decided to shut it down before it even really started, instead focusing on improving their security and working with security professionals and the community to do their best to ensure no bots are allowed to operate across WPN.
What Happens Next?
The big question now is what happens next and what exactly can ACR or the players do to prevent botting in online poker.
The incentive to create working and well-hidden online poker bots has never been greater, and the possibility of such bots existing is now very real.
Humans are simply not capable of beating computers at Texas Hold'em Poker if the computers are sophisticated enough, which makes botting an existential crisis to online poker as a whole.
Poker operators and community must come together to fight cheating in online poker, which includes, but is not limited, to botting and RTA.
While players continue to accuse ACR and other operators of wrongdoing, a strategy aimed at a joint effort against the bots would be a more productive one that would eventually lead to a solution instead of a feud between the different participants in the poker ecosystem.