Artificial Intelligence Defeats Poker Pros

matt makowski
Written by Matt Makowski
Published on Wednesday 1st February 2017, 10:14 am

Artificial Intelligence Defeats Poker Pros

Artificial Intelligence has claimed an historic victory in its battle with human players after winning a poker tournament over 20 days. Libratus, developed by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, emerged victorious after 120,000 hands against four world-renowned Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em professionals, eventually amassing over $1.7 million worth of chips.

The event, labelled ‘Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante’, took place at a casino in Pennsylvania and proved to be a groundbreaking moment for one of the AI unit’s chief creators, Tuomas Sandholm. “I’m feeling great,” the 48-year-old Finn told reporters. “This is a David versus Goliath story, and Libratus was able to throw a pebble.”    

Sandholm explained that this was a remarkable achievement for an AI unit, especially given that poker is a game of “imperfect information”. As players are unaware of which cards their opponents are holding, the state of play is unknown until every hand is revealed, therefore, the AI unit is forced to rethink its approach in order to remain ahead of the human opposition. “It’s a really important milestone for artificial intelligence,” explained Georgios Yannakakis of the University of Malta.  

Of course, this result has far wider reaching implications than just poker, according to Sandholm: “There are applications in cyber security, negotiations, military settings, auctions and more. You can learn to battle diseases better even if you have no extra medicines at your disposal – you just use them smarter.”

This was the Carnegie Mellon team’s latest attempt to outfox human opposition following a failed attempt in 2015. However, since this initial failure with Claudico, Sandholm and his associates have kept details of Libratus’ creation firmly under wraps to avoid assisting human competitors. “It’s insanely good this time around – quite remarkable,” remarked Jason Les, one of the poker professionals who faced the victorious AI unit. “It seems to have some sort of strategy update component that is learning how to best play us. Its strategy seems to be improving as time goes on and it is tougher and tougher every day.”

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