Vancouver (British Columbia) – Two professional poker players beat their silicon-based counterparts in the world’s first official “Man versus Machine” poker tournament. Phil Laak and Ali Eslami narrowly triumphed over “Polaris” a poker program running on a regular laptop.
Laak and Eslami split $50,000 in prize money and garnered the respect of humanity, while the scientists from the University of Alberta now have to go back to the drawing to figure out what happened.
While computers can now handily beat humans in Chess, researchers believe poker is a much more difficult game to solve. In Chess the positions of all the pieces are known by both players, but in poker cards in other players’ hands are hidden from view. The same is true for all the cards that haven’t yet been dealt.
Of course most people think computers will eventually be able to beat the best poker champs, either with a faster computer or better algorithms. Since Polaris was only running on a laptop, scientists could probably port the program to a supercomputer for better performance.
You may remember that scientists from the same university recently developed the world’s best Checker program, capable of beating any human.