Humans Beat Computer In 'Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence' Poker Tournament


Humans have beat a computer in a "Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence" poker tournament.

The competition started on April 24 at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Over the course of two weeks, a computer program called Claudico, which was developed by scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), played Heads-up, No-limit Texas Hold'em with four humans.

The human pros were Jason Les, Doug Polk, Bjorn Li and Dong Kim. All these four poker players are among the top 10 poker players of the world.

The competition ended with 80,000 hands of poker and an enormous amount of $170 million wagered during the play, and the humans won $732,713. At the top spot was Bjorn Li, who was left with chips worth $529,033. At second position, Doug Polk was left with $213,671, while Dong Kim had chips worth $70,491 and Jason Les with $80,482.

However, no real money was involved in the poker competition. The actual prize money was composed of $100,000, which was sponsored by Rivers Casino and Microsoft.

"We know theoretically that artificial intelligence is going to overtake us one day," said Li. "But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the humans remain on top for now."

Scientists, however, don't see the results as statistically significant.

Tuomas Sandholm, a computer science professor at CMU, who led the development of Claudico, revealed that statistically the game was a tie, and the results were inconclusive. However, he is impressed with the artificial intelligence (AI) of Claudico, which put up strong competition with some of the top poker players in the world.

"We knew Claudico was the strongest computer poker program in the world, but we had no idea before this competition how it would fare against four Top 10 poker players," said Sandholm. "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."

Polk applauded Claudico's AI but he also revealed that at times the computer's estimation was quite unusual. Polk explained that, in some occasions, the computer would place a bet too high or too low in comparison to a human.

"Betting $19,000 to win a $700 pot just isn't something that a person would do," said Polk.

AI is being researched about extensively by scientists. Sam Ganzfried, one of the Ph.D. students who helped in Claudico's development, hopes that they will soon have AI that can beat humans.

Photo: Ross Elliot | Flickr

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