Sunday April 26,2015 : HUMANS VS. POKER COMPUTER: WHO WILL WIN THIS TIME?
Artificial Intelligence technology appears to be improving.
The ability of computer programs to beat expert human poker players (or not) is again being put to the test this weekend as the Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania pits its Claudico artificial intelligence program against a team of four US poker aces in a heads up NLHE contest which will in all go on for just short of two weeks.
According to a university press release, AI bots have had success in Limit Hold'em, but No Limit Hold'em is a genre that is significantly more complex.
The “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence” clash will feature Doug “WCGRider” Polk, Dong “Donger Kim” Kim, Bjorn Li and Jason Le – all accomplished online and live tournament pros, playing a series of heads up against Claudico in scientifically controlled environments supervised by Claudico's creator and professor of computer science at Mellon, Dr. Tuomas W. Sandholm.
Judging by reports on its capabilities, Claudico will be a formidable opponent, having already defeated several other top computer-based programs.
Making the event more interesting is a $100,000 prize for the overall winner, and access by poker fans to the action via the burgeoning Twitch channel.
Humans vs. computers in poker contests are of course not new; as far back as 2005 poker pro Phil Laak defeated an early AI program called Vexbot (see previous InfoPowa reports) and that was followed by other program clashes in 2007, 2008 and earlier this year.
In 2007 Laak and Ali Eslami beat the University of Alberta's Polaris program after around 64 hours of play arranged over two days; Polaris tied the first round, won the second and lost the last two.
Dr. Michael Bowling, head of the University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group, was back the following year with an improved Polaris pitting it against six professional players in the Second Man-Machine Poker Championship, held in Las Vegas. This time Polaris, which can learn from its mistakes, defeated the human players with three wins, two losses and one tie.
Bowling continues to do pioneering work in the AI field, using poker as a test bed, and has since produced the reportedly unbeatable Cepheus, which received considerable publicity in January this year.
The current competition will be on Twitch with a half-hour delay around 11 am Eastern Standard Time through to 10 at night. The schedule is flexible to accommodate the busy lives of the players, who will each play a large number of hands in two sessions every day on laptops against Claudico whilst based at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh – a total over the competition of 80,000 hands.
Elaborate precautions have been taken to ensure that skill is a major factor, including rotating the players between the casino floor and an "isolation room".
The winner will be the contestant that has the most chips at the end of the two-week series, and the results will be published on May 8.