Humans Hold Their Own At Poker, For Now

from the one-last-redoubt dept

Score one for humanity. After four grueling sessions of human vs. computer poker, the human players managed to outlast and outwit the bot. It was by no means an easy task, as the computer performed strongly on day one. But, by the second day, the human players seemed to have a pretty good feel for the way the machine played the game, giving them the leg up. Assuming that computer, dubbed Polaris, represents the vanguard of AI poker, it would seem that it'll still going to be a long time before computers can compete at the top level, as they can do in chess. This particular match offered the computer optimal conditions, as it faced an opponent heads up in limit poker; in a no-limit game with a full table of opponents (conditions that would make it even harder to calculate proper strategy), its performance would have likely been significantly worse.


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  1.  
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    JJ, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    duh

    you play the man not the cards. How's a computer going to do that?


    FIRST

     

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  2.  
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    the spuzz, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 10:32am

    SECOND!!!!

    A computer always has a tell..when it flashes its light quickly, it has a good hand. I would advise folding.
    When you hear the hard drive clicking...it means there's no way he's betting on this hand...That or it is about to Crash.

    Either way, Congrats to the humanoids!

     

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  3.  
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    Overcast, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 10:38am

    Not sure it could ever 'win' - at least on a monetary basis, as most of it's a game of wits...

    Sure, it might use a 100% logical approach, but would it bluff, or attempt to?

    How much would it risk in doing so?

    Interesting concept..

     

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  4.  
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    Analog Jack, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 10:46am

    Poker Computer

    The above comments are exactly what the humans said before the computer kicked their butt playing chess. Resistance is futile!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 10:49am

    Again, I think a project like this is a complete waste of time, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway. Games like checkers and chess (at least as far as I can tell) are more or less based around pure strategy. All moves are done out in the open, and the only guesswork is figuring out what moves your opponent might make next.

    Poker, on the other hand, requires a significant amount of human factor. Bluffing, reading body language, playing mind games, etc., are all human traits, which are difficult for a computer to understand. There are most likely hundreds, if not thousands of subtle factors that a computer would have to consider, which makes for extremely complex calculations. A computer that can analyze all that data and adapt to each human player it is up against will be virtually impossible, especially if the human players can adapt to the computer faster than it can adapt to humans.

    And finally, the factor of randomization makes it just that more complex, because unlike a chess or checkers game where every move is cumulative from the beginning of the game to the end, every hand in poker is like starting over fresh, which makes it very hard to calculate one's next move.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 10:58am

    Playing limit poker heads up is a far less complex game than most people think. Especially if one of the players is a computer, that eliminates the much of the psychological complexity of the game.

    What is very interesting about this though is it means perfect strategy does not win at poker. It would be interesting to see what would happen playing the computer against itself over extended periods of time. It would be able to play incredibly quickly as the human factor would be removed. With a large enough starting amount to eliminate short term variance, they should never be able to beat one another.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 11:04am

    yes, as with chess or checkers or any type of "board game" all moves are avialable. you and your opponent know where each pice can and can't go. there is a discrete possibility of what will be done next. waiting 3 minutes to make a move doesn't mean anything because everyone sees it.

    but games like poker the game is different. you see a portion of the gaame pieces, and your opponent sees another set. sometimes you have a community set. taking 3 minutes to place a bet can be bluffing, or strategy. either way there is no way to set a rule that if a players waits x seconds, this is what they are doing. now if you could track what the player did at the end of each hand, it might make things a bit easier, but only against that one player. i.e. now it's important to know how long decisions are made.

    and ontop of that, there are small signs of how players react. subconsciencely, the way they put their chips, play with their chips, when/where they look...

    it's just that poker has too many imputs/variables.

    chess has 16 per side. checkers has what? 12 pieces a side. fairly easy to "know" the move sequience.

    but with poker, hands of 5, using 5,7 or more cards per hand though... just a bit too much information right now.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 11:09am

    Re: waste of time

    "I think a project like this is a complete waste of time"

    The goal is not to produce a poker playing robot. The goal is to develop artificial intelligence. Just like the computer program that will never loose at checkers. Why would you want to play it? Useless, but the goal was to solve the problem and learn something along the way.

     

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  9.  
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    mark r, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 11:27am

    missing

    I think you're missing two things in the disccusion here. One - Luck
    Luck is a very big part of the game as all of the play is determined by chance. No starting set positions, not the luck that your opponent makes a mistake, but that the game is designed for gambling, and luck is the backbone.
    Two - Risk/Reward
    Poker at its heart is about risk vs. reward. You can talk about bluffing and tells and stuff but that's not how successful players make their money. It is about pot odds and when bets make sense. If i'm likely to win a bet 20 percent of the time and it pays better than 5:1 I should make the bet. If I could do so in perpetutity I would basically be printing money. How you figure that out is the tough part and that's what the players are getting to know about their computer advesary.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 12:22pm

    Re: missing (luck)

    The "tournament" had two people playing against two computers. The cards were dealt such that one person had the exact same cards as the computer (playing the other person), and vice versa.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    The computer knew how to bluff guys

    The computer did not just use a strategy to win. It bluffed. At one point, as one of the players was folding, he said "If it's bluffing it's over for humanity". Turns out it was.

     

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  12.  
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    Ali Eslami, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 4:26pm

    From one of the Players

    I was one of the players (Ali), and I wanted to address one of the points. First off, as to the relevance of the event: This project is important not only in poker, but also in the applications that the technology they develop over time can be used for. If the U of A guys can develop techniques that can model opponents in poker, those same techniques can be expanded and applied to different domains. For example, in defense, to predict what an opposing commander's tendancies are based on past tactics.

    Even more exciting than that however, is the potential for cooperative reactions from software and computer systems. Again, if you can predict what a human is planning, then you can also cooperate with those plans and provide up resources to help the person. This can lead to innovative and intelligent user interfaces, etc.

    -Ali Eslami
    indigoae@hotmail.com

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 4:43pm

    It's not about the computer learning to bluff, the hard part is teaching the computer to detect bluffing.

     

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  14.  
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    methylamine, Jul 27th, 2007 @ 8:33am

    Agreed--Resistance Is Futile

    It's a complex problem, but we flatter ourselves too much cognitively.

    The software WILL become a superior player eventually, either through brutal statistical sleight-of-hand or by emulating the emotional responses of players to model them--and presenting its own "emotions" to baffle them. What's more, it might be taught to alter its "tells" over time to further confound its human opponents.

    Sorry folks; we're still just really smart monkeys, and until we can artificially augment our own intelligence, our brain-children the computers will begin to meet and exceed us in ever-expanding fields.

     

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  15.  
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    virtuves baldai, Aug 8th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    AI...

    Interesting concept.. but is very interesting how AI is programed and by whom, i think that only programmer's knowledge is not enough

     

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  16.  
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    Pretty Girl, Jan 28th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    That would be nice

    That would be nice to play Poker against computer..

     

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  17.  
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    London Girl, May 28th, 2009 @ 3:59pm

    It was interesting to read it

    It was interesting to read it. But who knows what might happen in future..

     

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  18.  
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    spintis, Nov 17th, 2010 @ 2:22am

    The above comments are exactly what the humans said before the computer kicked their butt playing chess. Resistance is futile!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Birmingham Escort, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    A computer always has a tell..when it flashes its light quickly, it has a good hand. I would advise folding.
    When you hear the hard drive clicking...it means there's no way he's betting on this hand...That or it is about to Crash.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    virtuves baldai, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Playing limit poker heads up is a far less complex game than most people think. Especially if one of the players is a computer, that eliminates the much of the psychological complexity of the game.

    What is very interesting about this though is it means perfect strategy does not win at poker. It would be interesting to see what would happen playing the computer against itself over extended periods of time. It would be able to play incredibly quickly as the human factor would be removed. With a large enough starting amount to eliminate short term variance, they should never be able to beat one another.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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