The Rivers Casino in Pennsylvania hosted a poker competition with a difference recently with four high earning No Limit Texas Hold'em players taking on the Carnegie Mellon University artificial intelligence program of Claudico in a man vs machine two week showdown.
There’s often talk about artificial intelligence being better than mans own, and although poker may not be the toughest test it does pose all of the decision making questions for it to be considered a genuine examination between the two. Over the two week period, as part of a ‘Brains Vs Artificial Intelligence’ exhibition a total of 80,000 Texas Hold'em hands were played with a huge $170 million being placed in bets, and once the cards were collected for the last time, three of the four poker pro’s had won more than Claudico, however their collective lead over the machine was only $732,713 and not deemed large enough to be of much significance.
The humans won, but only just about and Tuomas Sandholm, a professor of computer science stated that, "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, 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."
The 4 players were Bjorn Li, Doug Polk, Dong Kim and Jason Les and it was only Les that lost, and that wasn’t by much, and after the event Li commented that, "We know theoretically that artificial intelligence is going to overtake us one day," Li said. "But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the humans remain on top for now.”
Rivers Casino provided an online stream to the event allowing people all over the globe to take a look at the proceedings and Sandholm noted that beating humans isn’t the overall goal, but to create a decision making computer that can help humans make better decisions is the key.
There’s no doubt that Claudico is a great player and poker pro Doug Polk was very impressed with the computer's overall play, although at time being erratic and making much smaller bets than what a human would do, the fact that it’s impossible for Claudico to get fazed after losing a large bet is most definitely an advantage.