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Man vs. AI Machine in Texas Hold'em Matchup

By Computerworld

January 6, 2017

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Four top professional poker players will challenge an artificial intelligence (AI) system in a 20-day Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold'em poker tournament billed as an "epic rematch" by the AI's developers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

The participants will compete for a $200,000 jackpot against CMU's Libratus AI system beginning Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

Unlike games such as chess and Go, at which AI systems have excelled in past competitions with human champions, "poker...poses a far more difficult challenge...as it requires a machine to make extremely complicated decisions based on incomplete information while contending with bluffs, slow play, and other ploys," says CMU professor Tuomas Sandholm, recipient in 2001 of the ACM/SIGART Autonomous Agents Research Awarad.

Sandholm previously built an AI system called Claudico, which was matched against professional players in a 2015 poker tournament, only to be beaten. CMU researchers say the 80,000 hands played in the contest were not sufficient to definitively establish a human or computer's supremacy with statistical significance.

The new contest will involve 120,000 hands, with Libratus' strategies calculated by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's Bridges system. "We don't write the strategy," Sandholm says. "We write the algorithm that computes the strategy."

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