|In America, a computer created by a group of programmers from the University of Alberta made history on Sunday night by defeating seven players from online poker training site StoxPoker.com.|
The man versus machine competition was held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas over the weekend and saw Polaris II post a record of three wins, two losses and a draw against the human poker players in heads-up matches.
'We're very excited,' said Michael Bowling from the University of Alberta.
'I think there's no question that we're playing on the level of the absolute best human players in the world at the game of heads-up limit hold'em.'
The first silicon versus grey matter competition in Vancouver last year saw predecessor Polaris I narrowly defeated by two top poker professionals. To prepare this year’s event, Bowling's team made modifications to the computer's ability to reason and also altered its capacity to learn and adapt to its human opponents.
IJay Palansky played in two of the matches and stated that he enjoyed taking on the computer and that it made some bizarre moves that a human would never make. Matt Hawrilenko, who played in the final match, agreed but stated that Polaris II's win was scary for the future of head-to-head poker.
'For those of us who make our incomes largely from playing heads-up games, whether computers are ready to beat us or not, they're certainly ready to beat some of our opponents,' said Hawrilenko.
'They might win some of our money away.'
Bowling stated that there are improvements to be made, particularly tinkering with the computer's ability to learn and adapt. However, he called Polaris II's victory a ‘crossing point’ in the poker world where computer programmes can be considered equal to the best human players.
'It's going to take a bit of time for the poker world to digest,' said Bowling.