|After two days and 2,000 hands of concentrated poker, the human team of Ali Eslami and Phil ‘The Unabomber’ Laak won the first $50,000 Man-Machine Poker Championship in Canada.|
The event took place in Vancouver during the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and saw a computer program named Polaris battle it out with the two professional players in a match reminiscent of 1997’s battle between IBM’s Deep Blue chess program and world chess champion Garry Kasparov.
The Championship saw two sessions of poker played each day with Polaris starting well. The program, developed by the University of Alberta’s Department of Computing Science, held out for a draw in first session and won the second. The human team recovered to win the third gathering before going on to top Polaris by a combined $570 in the final session to win the overall event.
'This is a world first, and, I hope, the beginning of something that will grow and become an annual event,' said Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer, Chair of the University of Alberta’s Department of Computing Science and a team leader of the Polaris program.