Canadian Researchers Gambling On Program's Poker Skills
By staff
Researchers in Canada developing a poker-playing computer program have challenged two of the world’s best players to 2,000 hands of Texas Hold ‘Em in order to help test advances in artificial intelligence.

The $50,000 man-versus-machine match will be played on July 23 and 24 in conjunction with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conference in Vancouver, and the team from the University of Alberta are hoping that their Polaris program will give Phil ‘The Unabomber’ Laak and Ali Eslami something to think about.

'We have developed a format that has helped us factor out luck and make it into a scientific experiment to determine how good humans are relative to the best program in the world,' said Jonathan Schaeffer, leader of the computer science team that created Polaris.

'The goal is to eventually produce a poker program that is stronger than all human players.'

Polaris is actually a number of different computer programs that have different characteristics. While one is very aggressive but doesn't take into account the playing style of opponents another program actually learns from the strengths and weaknesses of other players and adjusts its style accordingly.

Schaeffer said that both of the programs are masterful at one of the most interesting aspects of playing poker, bluffing.

'There is a mathematically optimal rate at which you should bluff. Computers can calculate that. Humans don't understand the mathematics of poker. If they bluff too much, you can exploit them and win money.'

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