Poker Pros Take on Advanced Poker Bot
Human intelligence was up against artificial intelligence at the poker tables in Pittsburgh, as four pro players took on an advanced poker bot. The players won, but the results have caused a little controversy.
In certain poker circles there has long been a debate about whether artificial intelligence is, or ever will be, advanced enough to consistently beat skilled human players. The use of “poker bots” (computer programs which can play poker automatically) is widely prohibited at online poker sites, but there has been very little in the way of clear evidence that they are actually capable of winning.
However, there is a school of thought that artificial intelligence is (or at least will be) able to play poker at a higher standard than any human being. This is ultimately what is up for debate, and there have been several experiments and research studies undertaken to try and prove whether it is true. Nothing has been definitively proven either way to date, but the latest attempt to pit human intelligence against artificial intelligence at the poker tables has been taking place in Pittsburgh over the last couple of weeks.
Claudico vs The Pros
Between April 24th and May 8th, at the Rivers Casino, four professional poker players took on a computer program called Claudico. This program has been developed by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), under the charge of the computer science professor Tuomas Sandholm.
Each player was scheduled to play 20,000 hands of no limit Texas Hold’em heads up against Claudico, at blinds of $50/$100. They weren’t playing for real money, but Microsoft and the Rivers Casino put up a $100,000 prize for the winners.
About The Players
The four players taking part in the challenge were Bjorn Li, Dong Kim, Doug Polk and Jason Les. These players are recognized as some of the best heads up no limit specialists in Texas Hold’em, proven to be consistently successful at the tables.
The breakdown of the final results by player is as follows.
- Bjorn Li – Won $529,033
- Doug Polk – Won $213,671
- Dong Kim – Won $70,491
- Jason Les – Lost $80,482
As you can see, one of the players actually lost to Claudico. The players won a combined total of $732,700 in chips from Claudico across the 80,000 hands though. This equates to over 7,000 big blinds. As a result, the players shared the $100,000 prize money four ways.
The professional players had clearly emerged victorious, but CMU was celebrating too. They claimed a “statistical tie”, based on the fact that the players’ winnings amounted to less than just 0.5% of the total amount wagered. In a statement, Sandholm said “It would have been no shame for Claudico to lose to a set of such talented pros, so even pulling off a statistical tie is a tremendous achievement.”
Doug Polk didn’t seem happy with this statement, tweeting that he felt calling the match a tie was a misrepresentation. He was happy to admit that Claudico was a “balanced and strong opponent”, but he thought “that the humans had the clear edge.”
He probably has a point, given that the players’ average win of roughly nine big blinds per hundred hands is actually a very high win rate. Polk also pointed out that Claudico made a number of very strange decisions, such as betting $19,000 to win a $700 pot, which a skilled player simply wouldn’t do.
Regardless of which side of the argument is right, it appears that the debate regarding human intelligence versus artificial intelligence is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
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