Of the millions of gamblers who have rushed to play
Texas Hold ‘Em and other fast-growing poker games online, Roger Gabriel
isn’t the most intimidating.
The 30-year-old engineer from Newport Beach, Calif., started playing for
money only a month ago. He lurks online at the chicken-hearted tables
where the biggest ante is 4 cents. Even there, he can’t win
But Gabriel has a potentially powerful alter ego. In his spare time,
he’s perfecting a computer program to go online and play the game for
His BlackShark software is still a work in progress. But Gabriel has no
doubt that such programs eventually will be championship quality.
Gabriel is one of an increasing number of computer professionals who
design poker robots that pose as human gamblers but can play without
tiring or losing concentration.
Although not yet good enough to beat skilled humans consistently, these
programs are seen as a threat by online casinos–all based offshore, out
of the reach of U.S. laws–and the gamblers who spend billions of
dollars chasing big pots.