WPN CEO Phil Nagy Again Addresses Online Poker Bots

WPN CEO Phil Nagy Again Addresses Online Poker Bots

Americas Cardroom, the flagship online poker site on the Winning Poker Network (WPN), faces the same issues as many of its competitors. Specifically, the identification and banning of poker bots is a task that players have demanded all poker sites address.

WPN CEO Phil Nagy did that earlier in 2019, addressing the issue with everything from a heartfelt video to a new bot policy and a plan to eliminate the bots. At the same time, all players who were victimized by the bots would be reimbursed.

The policy was deemed “transparent and verifiable.”

Seven months after the last update, Nagy addressed the issue again.

November Nagy Update

On November 22, WPN delivered a message from Nagy via social media posts and the Americas Cardroom blog.

Nagy noticed that a customer on Twitter asked him for a status update about the poker bot situation, so he decided to update the actions of the past months and their effectiveness.

“We devoted some manpower in analyzing how exactly bots work and how they interact with the poker client,” he wrote. “As a result, a major discovery has changed our approach in how to attack them.”

What the team found was that all tested bots read graphical pixels at the tables. They then decided to change the graphics in the poker client to throw off the bots. Admittedly, the graphics would need to change each time the bots figured out how to get past the newest layouts. WPN did it four times already:

–May 20

–September 5

–October 15

–November 14

“This proved considerably effective in slowing them down as the programmers of the bots then had to remap the table which often takes weeks or even months,” Nagy wrote.

He also added that further evaluation of bot action before and after the graphical updates showed that some bots did not even resume play after the updates.

Another change added to WPN poker sites was an additional layer of CAPTCHA services, wherein players must identify images. This was added to player accounts so they must be addressed after players hit various hand milestones.

Banned Bot Numbers

Nagy wrote that WPN has banned 46 bots and refunded more than $450K to affected customers to date.

“We have more banned accounts and refunds to credit to our database,” Nagy also said. He also admitted, however, that the team was having problems importing historical data, which may delay refunds for some players.

As those refunds are made, all data will be posted on the WPN “banned accounts” page.

The last updates on the page were on May 15, 2019. (The text above the graph reads April 12, but the most recent reimbursements are for MTTs played through May 15.)

It showed 46 entries, which are presumably the same ones about which Nagy spoke. However, this means that there are no numbers – not even estimates – to show how many more accounts were banned or players refunded since the policy began earlier in 2019.

Going Forward

Per Nagy’s message to players, the plan is to implement those graphical changes on players’ hands during live play. The purpose will be to break that hand and allow the team to investigate that potentially offending account immediately.

Nagy calls the process an “evolving battle.” Despite the persistence of bots, he said WPN will “continue to implement solutions…while developing more tools to make our gameplay environment the safest on the internet.”

It will be interesting to see if there are more frequent updates after this update, as opposed to the last promise of this nature.

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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