Four of the world’s top Texas Hold’em players faced off against a poker playing AI over the course of two weeks. They collectively played 80.000 hands and won, though the victory is not officially recognized.
During the “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” (AI) contest, held at Rivers Casino, the human players earned a $732,713 collective lead against Claudicio, Carnegie Mellon University’s poker playing AI.
When looking at the total available on the table – $170 million – researchers could not in good conscious label the results “scientifically reliable” or “statistically significant”. The humans simply had too slim of a lead for it to be considered a definitive victory, so the game ended up being called a tie instead.
Tuomas Sandholm, CMU computer science professor and director on Claudico development, gave a statement saying “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”.
He firmly believes the newly developed software was not defeated by mankind as he goes on to explain that there would have been no shame if Claudico had lost to a team of such highly skilled professionals. He is proud of how the AI behaved, calling the “statistical tie” a “tremendous achievement”.
When all the chips were counted, three out of the four professional poker players were ahead of Claudico. Bjorn Li had won a total of $529,033, Doug Polk had won $213,671 and Dong Kimhad had won $70,049. Jason Les lagged behind the AI by $80,482.
Bjorn Li, the most successful of the four human players, made a joke saying that we theoretically know (presumably thanks to SF movies and novels) that artificial intelligence will one day overthrow mankind. He is happy that at the end of the day humans still remain on top for the foreseeable future.
Li’s statement also seems to suggest that he, unlike the scientists who conducted the study, is of the opinion a collective lead of $732,713 is enough to establish humans as the clear winners of the contest.
Doug Polk agrees with Li, claiming that the AI computer is great, but that it still needs to have some work done. It can’t yet replace a human player as it has moments when it plays well, and others when he can’t understand what it’s doing.
He gave an example of the machine betting $19.000 in order to win $700 and called it a choice that a person would never make.
An explanation could be that Claudico was programmed using algorithms, rather than mapping its choice-making patterns on a human player’s brain and experience. Researchers warned that it might play like a Martian.
The professionals each played 20,000 hands with Claudico in two-player games. No real money was used in the game, however the human will receive appearance fees of $100,000 donated by Rivers Casino and Microsoft Research.
Professor Sandholm informed that poker has become an ideal testing ground for AIs due to it being an incomplete information game – players don’t know what cards their opponents are holding and they all try to mislead each other.
Feeling the somewhat ominous nature of the statement, he explained that scientists are not trying to build a computer that can beat humans, but one that can help them negotiate or make decisions in situations where they don’t have all the needed information.
Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers Casino, was very excited about the partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and about being in the presence of four out of the top ten players in the world. He said that the professionals had fans rooting for them all through the contest thanks to online streaming, as well as local players visiting the game floor to show their support.
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