Morgan Stanley downgrades online poker operators

A group of analysts led by Ed Young think the evolve of poker AIs can have a serious impact on the industry.

In 2019 the stories regarding artificial intelligence in poker are well known by all poker players. An AI developed by Carnegie Mellon and Facebook researchers recently beat a handful of poker pros in six-max No-limit Hold'em.

It looks like this news reach the analysts at the biggest investment banks as well, as Morgan Stanley's target prices for GVC Holdings (the owner of partypoker) and Playtech (the owner of iPoker) were lowered by 2% and 4% respectively by the company.

(In the meantime, they updated to the price for the owner of PokerStars, The Stars Group from $17 to $18 - which is based on TSG's overall portfolio rather than online poker.)

According to lead analyst Ed Young, the risks associated with the likelihood that AI accounts (aka bots) can have a bad impact on the online poker economy.

As Seeking Alpha summarized the report: "Analyst Ed Young and team note that computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University developed an AI system that is "stronger than human professionals" in the most popular version of poker. They note the code has not been released in part because it would have a "serious impact" on the integrity of online poker as it stands. The MS analysts then give all online poker players something to think about. "The AI blueprint strategy was developed for a cloud-computing cost of just $144 in 8 days, runs on normal computers, plays twice as fast as professional players and could be adapted for any poker variant," they warn."

They concluded that bots in online poker can pose serious harm to the industry. However, the industry has seen plenty of bot accounts getting banned during this year, which forecasts a brighter future for the game than Morgan Stanley's move would suggest.