A common claim by bot makers is that using a bot in online poker is not cheating. They claim that it is only a technical breach of the Terms of Service, rather than “true” cheating. I think that this is wrong.

All competitions are tests of various attributes. For example, 100metre running races are a test of human strength, not tests of drug absorption rates. Therefore, drug taking is prohibited. Rules against drug taking are not artificial rules created by the relevant governing body: they are fundamental to the contest at hand. The guy who has the entry in the Guiness Book of Records for the 100m sprint doesn’t have the entry for “100m sprint without drugs” – he has the entry for the 100m sprint. You can’t enter a car in the 100m sprint: the 100m sprint is a fundamentally human endeavour.

Imagine a hypothetical prop bet: A 100m sprint between two people with no previous contact. These two people have never met each other but are simply told that they will take part in a 100m sprint.

If one of them turned up and tried using a bicycle, any reasonable person would say “That’s cheating.” Similarly, if one of them tackled their opponents to the ground and the start and broke their opponent’s leg, any reasonable person would say “That’s cheating.”

Those activities are cheating because the 100m spring is a test of speed and leg strength and so on. It’s a test of those attributes. Not participating in that attribute test undermines the fundamental basis of the competition.

The same principle applies to poker.

Poker is a test of mathematics, probability, perception, mental strength, psychology and self-discipline. This is why poker is fundamentally a human activity, and why using bots is cheating, above and beyond the TOS of a particular site.

Now, there are some ‘artificial’ activities that can be undertaken within the reasonable rules. Think of a student studying in an exam: their college professor is (typically) not going to object to the student taking aderall to boost performance. That’s because the college professor doesn’t think that aderall consumption alters the fundamental test at hand: a test of knowledge (or whatever is being tested). However, if a student turned up with a wi-fi connection and a notebook, any reasonable person would say “That’s cheating.”

The point is that there are fundmanetal boundaries to the activity, that go beyond written Terms of Service. Using a poker bot is one of these breaches.

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