Bot Ring apparently behind the Full Tilt Poker Cheating Scandal
I still plan on writing to Full Tilt Poker and asking them a few questions concerning the cheating scandal, but it appears that the mystery was revealed. A company called “Shanky Technologies” runs and operates a site titled bonusbots.com, where they sell a variety of “advanced poker robots” that play online poker for you, so that you no longer have to make decisions as a poker player. The site claims that their bots play a “professional-level poker at the better online poker rooms” and “Plays all game structures and has a full stealth/hide mode.” Their objective is to get players to plunk down $130 to buy their bots, and then they sit back and try to tell you that you’ll be a winning poker player in no time.
The trouble is, the use of bot’s is a violation of all major online sites user agreements. In the case of Full Tilt Poker, their user agreement states: “the use of artificial intelligence including, without limitation, “robots” is strictly forbidden in connection with the Software and the Games. All actions taken in relation to the Games by a User must be executed personally by players through the user interface accessible by use of the Software. ”
Shanky Technologies tries to lure players in with their claims that their bots are “undetectable” by Full Tilt or their players. What we found out on October 14th was, that is very much not the case. Full Tilt has been apparently monitoring the usage of bots for a long period of time, and finally identified the accounts that violated their user agreement. For the accounts that used the artificial intelligence, their accounts were shut down, and their profits were disbursed to the players that lost to this artificial intelligence. Again, this all took place on October 14th.
In a response of sheer anger and frustration at having their accounts shut down and their money taken away, Shanky Technologies issued the following ridiculous statement:
To be certain, the use of such software has always been against their “official” terms of service. We all knew that. But for the past few years that part of their agreement was always perceived as being given with a wink. There are hundreds of us who have been active there on a daily basis and the overwhelming majority of us have never heard so much as a peep out of them. If they suddenly decided that they didn’t want us, given the fact that they have allowed us to proliferate unrestricted up to this point, one would expect a warning and a chance to stop using the software.
However in private emails, and in some posts in our support forum, we did make statements that we thought the room was safe from this type of thing, given the long history of tolerance that we have there. And we are very sorry for that. We would never intentionally mislead our customers about the risks involved.
As an example, we get constant requests to support Poker Stars and Party Poker. We always have replied that those poker rooms have no tolerance for bots and as a result we will not even ever attempt to support them. There is no point, as the risk is simply outrageous. So we always focused on poker rooms that are known for high “bot toleration” in their practices.
This has obviously now changed. Consequently we must seriously consider un-supporting Full Tilt poker. They apparently do not want us there anymore, and would rather have our account balances than our business. We see that as an incredibly unethical move on their part and must question anybody who wishes to continue to play there even manually. Look at the people you are trusting with your money. See what kind of people they really are. We would recommend not giving them even one more hand of business, whether you ever used a poker bot before or not.
Who knows, one day they may take all your money because you visited Sharkscope.com or Tableratings.com and they scanned your browser history to find it. (Don’t laugh, the only way they are catching us is by blatant privacy violation and scanning your PC.)
If we decide to add more stealth measures and continue support, we will be issuing stern warnings about their history and the risks involved. Botting there will not be recommended by us again, ever. We think the way forward is to simply support other poker rooms instead, ones that have a more bot-friendly attitude.
As a reminder, we still support at least four other good rooms at the moment, and a couple of these have shown a great interest in having our bots play there. We think that “bot-friendly” is really the wave of the future, and that soon smart operators will realize how much online poker players love tinkering and playing with bot software and will make a “bots welcome” official policy as a result. Yes, we really do believe that or we wouldn’t be in this business. Some of our currently supported rooms are getting close to this in fact.
Some of you will stop botting because of this experience, or at least put it down for a while. But those of us who love this hobby will pick ourselves up and get back in the game at greener pastures. Shanky Technologies isn’t going anywhere. In fact we have exciting things planned in the near future.
Thanks for your understanding in this matter.
Shanky Technologies team
Caught red-handed in a scheme to gain an edge on the poker community, it appears as though Shanky Technologies will continue to operate their bot sales to players on other sites. But I believe that Full Tilt Poker took the appropriate action by shutting these accounts down, and seizing the money. They followed that up by reimbursing as many losses as they could. I don’t know if they’ve actually been able to reimburse everyone that was affected, and it’s impossible for anyone other than Full Tilt to know exactly what the damage was, though it seems pretty wide-spread.
A large percentage of the players that were impacted voiced in a 2+2 thread today that the primary focus of these “bots” occurred in games that were Rush Poker games. The games by nature are incapable of being railed, so the only players viewing the hands are the 9 players that are at sitting at the table of the full ring game for that 1 hand (or the 6 in the 6-max). It appears that the bots were all over, at every style of Rush Poker, and at every limit. But their highest area of concentration came from the games that were at the micro stakes ($25 NL and under were pretty well frequented).
We will never know exactly how many accounts were involved in this “bot ring” nor will we know the identities of those accounts that were suddenly shut down. But I’m glad that they were. It’s more than a little bit frustrating to know that it took this long to have Full Tilt shut down the activity, even causing the Shanky Technologies Team to implicate that the lack of response included a basic acceptance to the use of the play. Basically, they felt that because they weren’t getting caught, that they were justifiably cheating, which is obviously utterly ridiculous.
I think for me, I’m going to steer clear of the Rush Poker games. While historically, I’m a loser at those games (at roughly -3 BB’s/100 mind you), I think that I will continue to try to avoid the area that seems to have been the most affected by “bot play.” And while it is certainly nice that the accounts were shut down, and their money disbursed, I wish that something more could be done to Shanky Technologies concerning their product. The fact that they try to claim that “bot play” is the wave of the future when they’re breaking the rules is completely absurd. Perhaps Shanky Industries also would like to say that using “God Mode” is justifiable because it gives players an edge when they can see their opponents hole cards. Bots are cheating. These clowns should be locked up somewhere, and gives further credence to the necessity that online poker in the U.S. needs a governing and regulatory body with greater financial sanctions being imposed against cheaters like this. Ideally, they’d be put out of business for good, and their assets frozen, and perhaps even spend some time in a federal facility that involves them wearing a number on their orange jumper with a guy named “Bubba” to meet and greet them night after night.
I want to finish by saying that I am elated that they caught the company and the cheaters, and I’m happy that I was able to get some money back without even knowing that I had been cheated to begin with. More than a little troublesome is that it would be impossible for me to figure out exactly how much money I lost to these bots versus how much I actually won, so whether or not I recieved a fair reimbursement is entirely left at the discretion of the Full Tilt Poker security team. I will email Full Tilt in the next day or so, and I will post both my message to them and the reply by Full Tilt right here for all to see. Until then, I feel comfortable playing online at my current stakes for the S&G’s and the MTT’s. But Rush Poker, that’s going to take a back seat….probably for good.