ACR is offering $100,000 to the first person to take the bot beyond security

Poker playing robot

Americas Cardroom has offered $100,000 to the first person who can prove that a bot has gotten past the site’s security. [Image:]

An upside down, inside out place

Through the looking glass and what Alice found there (better known as Take a closer look) was published on December 27, 1871 by author and mathematician Lewis Carroll. It is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland and follows the eponymous heroine’s fantastic journey into a world where everything is reversed. Nursery rhyme characters and inanimate objects are alive. To get to the house you have to head up the hill. To run you have to stop. The logic of everything is turned on its head.

an eerie world that is both familiar and strange

Since the book’s publication, the phrase “through the looking glass” has become a metaphor for any moment in which the world suddenly appears unrecognizable, almost as if things have been turned upside down or as if one were emerging from the looking glass look into an eerie world that is both familiar and strange. Applied to poker, one would have to imagine a world where the worst hand wins, the limit games have no limit, and the first person eliminated wins the tournament. You would have to imagine a world where Daniel Negreanu fired the fewest WSOP balls but won the most bracelets in the last decade.

You could also imagine a world in which a major poker site responded to allegations that its network was full of poker bots by encouraging the community to create poker bots, and presumably those who try to cheat, for those “This raises the question: who would the site use as the face of this advertising?” Well, in this topsy-turvy, inside-out place you’re now imagining, they would need to send out the most inspiring figure in poker history, an exemplary ambassador whose name is synonymous with poker’s golden era.

TwoPlusTwo poster TylerRM provides information

On January 3, 2024, TwoPlusTwo forum member “TylerRM” published his “findings” related to bots on the Winning Poker Network (WPN). While he acknowledges that monitoring the development and profitability of poker bots has become an increasingly challenging task, he nonetheless makes a comprehensive case that WPN has a major problem with scammers using pre-programmed poker slots across multiple accounts.

Evidence that GGPoker and Ignition are also compromised

TylerRM lists hundreds of rogue accounts and claims that the bot farm “creates more than 100 new accounts per month” and that its playstyle “evolves approximately every three months,” updating its exploitative approach to maximally defeat the population. He also states that this issue is not exclusive to WPN and emphasizes that there is evidence that GGPoker and Ignition were also compromised.

GGPoker is currently in the process of sweeping a confirmed cheating scandal under the rug, so the community will undoubtedly put pressure on them to investigate these allegations. Patrick Howard was one of many who took to Twitter to express his concerns about Ignition:

Moneymaker and Kenney respond

During the GGPoker scandal last week, it was noticeable that not a single ambassador for the site spoke out. The silence was deafening. In response to the allegations, WPN and Americas Cardroom (ACR) decided this week that the best defense was attack and sent their ambassadors Chris Moneymaker and Ebony Kenney to issue a statement on behalf of the company.

Moneymaker and Kenney, presumably under the leadership of the company’s senior leadership, denied the existence of a bot farm on the network and threw down the gauntlet by asking the community to develop a bot that could penetrate the firewall created by their security team. They even offered a $100,000 reward for the first person to do so.

The entire move is absurd. Let’s imagine for a moment that ACR won’t undo this nonsense in the coming days. Let us assume that this reflects the confusion of this ethical position. Let’s imagine that a person manages to create a bot that matches the bots that are allegedly part of a cheating scheme that netted players over $10 million. How tempting is a one-time $100,000 bounty then?

A mirror is also a magnifying glass

Chris Moneymaker is a good guy who is interested in poker. He was great in his Team Pro role at PokerStars for 17 years and now represents Americas Card Room, where he has a more demanding job due to his more gray nature. Ambassadors are often the first port of call when it comes to customer service, and in this case he was brought in by ACR to be at the forefront while disputing the prevailing narrative in the community that bots are undermining the integrity of the games website.

raise broader existential questions about the viability of online poker

The problem is that the line chosen by ACR here is bizarre. His reaction is more provocative than reassuring, his tone more petty than concerned, his suggestion more indecent than intentional. The poker community isn’t making any fools of itself or expressing any concern. There are legitimate issues with WPN and ACR that raise broader existential questions about the future viability of online poker.

The mirror is also a magnifying glass and the various security and game integrity teams of a number of poker sites are currently under scrutiny. At some point frogs jump out of the boiling water. Poker players ultimately vote with their feet. We are at a crossroads and we need the forces of ACR, GGPoker and Ignition to address our concerns with more than just symbolic gestures and cheek. We deserve better.


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