The founder and chief architect of the high profile Polaris poker robot research team at the University of Alberta in Canada, Dr. Darse Billings, put the use of poker robots into perspective this week in responding to Internet blog comments that such developments had the potential to destroy the online poker industry.
Polaris probably sports one of the most advanced Artificial Intelligence systems yet developed for applications of this sort, but Dr. Billings wrote that it does not present a serious problem for human players despite its impressive performance against professional players and Stoxpoker coaches alike in recent times.
The Dallas News blog to which Dr. Billings responded had published a piece entitled: "Will computer programs destroy online poker? Probably." The article referred to a recent competition where Polaris II, a poker bot made by the University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group, beat several Stoxpoker.com pros in a series of heads-up matches.
Blogger Andrew Smith opined that because online poker is anonymous, this could impact the future for online poker rooms as the integrity-challenged could put poker bots, as humans, into various online games. This assertion appeared to overlook the millions of dollars invested in sophisticated poker bot identification software by major online poker companies like Poker Stars and Full Tilt.
Billings did not hold back in his response to the opinion, calling it a "ridiculous conclusion."
Polaris was the product of scientific research, and had never been used to compete online in contravention of the rules of most Internet poker sites, and the use of bots was not a catastrophe for online poker, he observed. The program only plays heads-up Limit Hold'em, which is not a popular variant. Modern programs are not strong at No-Limit or multi-player games.
"I started the research into poker A.I. in 1992, and we have had a very large team of excellent researchers working on the problem for many years. We have made a lot of progress over the past 16 years, but I can assure you, the sky is not falling," he concluded.
According to Wikipedia, Polaris is a composite program consisting of a number of bots, including HyperBorean07, the winner of the limit equilibrium series in the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Computer Poker Competition. Polaris also contains a number of other fixed strategies, as well as an optional adaptive component which attempts to model opponent play and choose the best strategy against its opponent