Top 4 Poker Players Take On Computer Program Challenge

Tuomas SandholmThe CMU team at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science has developed an innovative computer program called Claudico that will attempt to challenge four of the top professional poker players in the world in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. The challenge is part of the Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence competition that is scheduled to take between the 24th of April to the 8th of May at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

Claudico will test its artificial intelligence skills against Doug Polk, Jason Les, Dong Kim and Bjorn Li who are experts at playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Claudico will play 20,000 hands against each player and complete a total of 80,000 hands during the event.

The game will be based on a face to interface format and have no limits, allowing both program and humans to bet any amount of money they would like to.

There is a guaranteed prize money of $100,000 to be won by either the program or the players. Rivers Casino and Microsoft Research have donated the prize money in an effort to encourage an interesting battle to see if Claudico has the artificial intelligence and game strategy to overcome some of the best poker professionals in the world.

In a statement, Tuomas Sandholm, leader of the CMU team said

Poker is now a benchmark for artificial intelligence research, just as chess once was. It’s a game of exceeding complexity that requires a machine to make decisions based on incomplete and often misleading information, thanks to bluffing, slow play, and other decoys. And to win, the machine has to out-smart its human opponents.

The Texas Hold ‘Em no limit format is considered to be one of the toughest formats to play and it will make it all the more interesting to see if Claudico will be able to beat all four players. The program will connect to a university computer and will also be helped by Pittsburgh’s Supercomputing Center’s Blacklight supercomputer.

The algorithms were put together by studying hours of footage of some of the top winning strategies of Texas Hold ‘Em no limit. If Claudico beats all four poker players, it could result in a breakthrough for a number of important functions as the algorithm and strategies will also be used to further advance military functions, medical care and business functions. Doug Polk believes that both the machine and the players enter with a 50-50 chance of winning but the machine could end up having an edge.