Professional poker players have narrowly won a poker competition against bots at Rivers Casino in Pittsburg. In fact, the win was so narrow that it could almost be called a draw.
A group of four talented professional poker players played as many as 80,000 hands against Claudico, an artificial intelligence program. The competition, which was called the Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence Competition, continued for as long as two weeks. The human players’ combined winnings were $732,713 more than Claudico’s. While the winnings of Doug Polk, Bjorn Li, and Dong Kim were more than Claudico’s by $213,671, $529,033, and $70,491, the winnings of Jason Les were lesser than Claudico’s by $80,482.
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The results can be argued as a tie, but Polk has already tweeted: “From how well Claudico played, I think it was balanced and a strong opponent, but I don’t want this misrepresented as a tie.” In a video, Polk has referred to the artificial intelligence program as “a strong opponent” and has praised its balanced approach to difficult situations at the poker table. Simultaneously, he also observed that Claudico made strange decisions, such as placing a bet of $19,000 to win a hand worth $700, and so on. He said: “That’s not a human thing, that’s a computer thing.” He further explained that real players would think twice before wagering such a huge amount of money.
No real money was bet at the competition, but each pro received fees from a prize pool of $100,000 contributed by Microsoft Research and Rivers Casino.
The creator of Claudico did not feel that the artificial intelligence program was defeated. Tuomas Sandholm, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who played the lead role in the creation of Claudico, 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 with them is a tremendous achievement.”
Last July, Tartarnian7, an artificial intelligence program created before Claudico, won a heads-up NL Hold’em tournament against other artificial intelligence programs at the Computer Poker Competition 2014 organized by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
According to Sandholm, defeating noted professional poker pros isn’t actually the goal of the artificial intelligence program. The aim is to develop artificial intelligence programs capable of making quick decisions on the basis of incomplete information, something that can be useful in the areas of medicine, cyber security, and business.