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Phil Laak plays poker as actress Jennifer Tilly keeps watch  (Source: University of Alberta)
Humans barely edge computer in Texas Hold 'Em tournament

At a tournament worth $50,000 held earlier this week  at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's annual conference in Vancouver, B.C., poker pros Phil "The Unabomber" Laak and Ali Eslami went up against Polaris, the reigning world champion computer-poker program.

The two poker pros were sat in different rooms, where each sat in front of a laptop to play Texas Hold ‘Em. The competition featured four matches, 500 hands each, between Polaris and the two poker playing professionals.

At the end of the first round, Polaris had a slightly higher chip count, though the total winnings difference was so small that the round was considered a draw (due to statistical variation). The second round – and the last for Monday – went in strong favor to Polaris.

The humans made a comeback the next day. At the end of the two day showdown, the two poker players came out $570 ahead – just enough to claim a small victory over the computer program.

"I really am happy it's over," said Eslami. "I'm surprised we won.... it's already so good it will be tough to beat in future."

The programmers behind Polaris used several different programs throughout its poker play to test which would be most effective. Phil Laak described one named Mr. Pink as a "careful, reasonable, disciplined, thoughtful player," while he called another one named Agent Orange as being "like a crazed, cocaine-driven maniac with an ax."

"The subtlety to the whole thing is, we won, not by a significant amount, and the bots are closing in," Laak told MSNBC. "That's the true summary."



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RE: Those shades are going to help
By Souka on 7/26/2007 10:42:04 AM , Rating: 2
and forgot to mention the value of chips in play...

$570 is nothing if they're playing $200,000+ buy ins, but quite a bit if they're doing $1000 buy ins.


By bunnyfubbles on 7/26/2007 1:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
true, I'd also like to know that, the only thing we have to go on is that the tournament was for $50,000...but that might not mean anything


RE: Those shades are going to help
By Alexstarfire on 7/26/2007 1:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
Considering how small a test this was, it could easily be said that either side won because of luck.


RE: Those shades are going to help
By grant2 on 7/26/2007 6:32:54 PM , Rating: 4
Considering how small a test this was, it could easily be said that either side won because of luck.

The same cards were dealt simultaneously in both matches to ensure luck was not an issue.

I.e., if the computer was dealt AA against Laak's KK in their hand #1, then Eslami was dealt AA vs. the computer's AA when he played HIS first hand.

2000 hands (500 per round x 4 rounds) isn't a huge amount, but it's certainly not a "small" test.


By damncrackmonkey on 7/26/2007 8:29:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I.e., if the computer was dealt AA against Laak's KK in their hand #1, then Eslami was dealt AA vs. the computer's AA when he played HIS first hand.


I'm pretty sure that second part should have a KK in there. I'm guessing after "computer's."

Since the end victory was for the 2 poker players over the several artificial poker personalities, I think a statistical breakdown of each personality vs each player would be much more appropriate than just saying the humans won $570.

Anyway, since $570 is likely far less than the pot for any given hand, I don't think this can be taken as any evidence for pro poker players remaining better than computers.


RE: Those shades are going to help
By Samus on 7/26/2007 3:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
they were playing a $50,000 pot, $570 put them just over a 5% margin.


RE: Those shades are going to help
By fibbeh on 7/27/2007 11:33:04 AM , Rating: 2
They were playing $10/$20 limit hold'em. According to the official website, Phil and Ali won by a total of $395 after approximately 2000 duplicate hands or 4000 total hands. That means that the human players had a win rate of 0.5BB/100 (big bets per 100 hands) which is not a particularly high win rate at $10/$20 or lower, but wouldn't be bad at the actual levels that Phil Laak plays.
The "Pot" of $50,000 has no relation to the actual money they were playing with. Each player had $100,000 in "chips" to start with so that they would not run out of playing money in 500 hands. The research was only concerned with the net wins or losses by each player.


"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard











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