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
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."
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."