Humans Cruise to $732,713 Win Over Poker AI

Four top poker pros beat the Claudico poker computer by a collective $732,713. So why are some considering the challenge a tie?

Photo Caption: Dong Kim (left) and Bjorn Li take on Claudico during the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold’em challenge.

Polk did credit Claudico for never tilting. “You’re playing a cold-blooded killer because when he goes all in and you snap him off and win his stack, he’s not scared now, he’s just computing, right?” Polk said.

Les, on the other hand, was down $228,066 after one week. But he managed to have some success against Claudico in the later stages of the competition.

“The computer definitely bluffs and does all sorts of other tricks that human poker players know, but the key is that we don’t program in the bluffing,” Sandholm says. “So the algorithms themselves figure out the strategy, how to bluff, when to bluff, in what situations and so forth.

Claudico’s strategy was created using algorithms rather than trying to program in human poker expertise. The algorithms ran on the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Blacklight computer with just the rules of poker as input.

The same sort of algorithms could also be used to create strategies for applications involving cybersecurity, business transactions and medicine. For instance, an AI similar to Claudico might help doctors develop sequential treatment plans for a patient, or design drugs that are less prone to resistance. Or, such an AI might help people negotiate their best deal when purchasing a house or a car.

See Also: Meet the Creepy Humanoid Robot That Resembles Sarah Palin

Doug Polk takes on Claudico.

An earlier version of the computer program, called Tartanian7, decisively won the Heads-up No-limit Texas Hold’em category against each opponent with statistical significance of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Annual Computer Poker Competition last July. The poker pros had a chance to observe Tartanian7’s play prior to this spring’s competition.

Poker has become a major test AI because it is an incomplete information game and no two players have the same strategy. With 80,000 hands of new data in hand, Sandholm says his team already has ideas for improving Claudico.

“Beating humans isn’t really our goal; it’s just a milestone along the way,” Sandholm says. “What we want to do is create an artificial intelligence that can help humans negotiate or make decisions in situations where they can’t know all of the facts.”

No actual wagering took place during the exhibition, though the pros will receive appearance fees based on their performance from a prize purse of $100,000 donated by Rivers Casino and Microsoft Research.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe:  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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