In 2019, almost everyone who plays online poker understands that bots are an issue that operators are forced to deal with. Now, players have a lot more detail on how at least one room is doing that, thanks to a treasure trove of data released by MPN.
Alex Scott of the Microgaming Poker Network published a post on the MPN website on Monday detailing the network’s approach toward bots on its sites, as well as data showing exactly how successful those efforts have been.
MPN Follows in Footsteps of Other Operators
According to Scott, MPN officials decided to publish the data after seeing other operators make similar efforts in recent months. Partypoker, in particular, has been proactive in detailing the numbers of bots caught on the site each month.
“This is a great step in the right direction. Previously, there was a fear in the industry about publishing this information,” Scott wrote. “I give a lot of credit to the operators who stuck their neck out by publishing the information first.”
The data released by MPN dates back to January 2016. Rather than detail the number of bots caught in raw numbers, the monthly data gives percentages of the user base that were investigated, locked, and refunded, as well as the amount of money refunded to other users.
That information shows that a relatively large percentage of users face investigations each month. On average, 7.43 percent of “monthly active users” were investigated in any given month, with that number reaching a high of 17 percent in Feb. 2019 – meaning about one in every six active users was investigated during that period.
Naturally, the number of accounts that have actually been locked is much smaller. Overall, 1.25 percent of active users have had their accounts locked, which amounts to one in 80 real money players.
Proactive Efforts Responsible for Most Enforcement
Another point of contention has been how much of a role players should have in maintaining game integrity. That’s been an issue over at Partypoker, where one of the chief complaints about the loss of downloadable hand histories has been the fact that it will make it harder for the community to notice cheaters and bots, and that players shouldn’t have to entirely rely on a poker operator’s security team to catch everything.
At MPN, the vast majority of bots have apparently been discovered by the network itself. Over the four-year-period for which information was shared, the operator’s data shows that nearly 98 percent of bots were discovered using its own tools and procedures, with user reports only uncovering about two percent of suspect accounts.
Finally, MPN also shared the amount refunded to users: a total of €1.09 million ($1.2 million) to 0.78 percent of its active users. But, as Scott pointed out, simply collecting a large sum of money doesn’t necessarily mean the site has been successful in stopping cheaters.
If you see an operator seize a large amount of money, it generally means that they were behind the curve for some time, and finally caught up, catching the cheats unaware,” Scott wrote. “You’ll see an example of this in our own data from August 2018, where we caught a large bot ring due to advances in our processes and procedures.”
Partypoker and MPN aren’t the only online poker rooms publicizing their efforts against bots. In April, Americas Cardroom detailed its bot reimbursement policy for its players. Meanwhile, several players have sued French site Winamax, saying that it failed to adequately maintain the integrity of its games after an investigation into bot accounts.