Just When We Thought We Were Winning, AI Takes the Lead in Poker Now Too

To date, no computer has ever beaten the world’s best poker players when it comes to Texas Hold ‘Em. However, that could all be about to change during a twenty-day contest in Pittsburgh where even some of the best specialists are saying they don’t have a chance this time and it’s all down to artificial intelligence.

The new AI machine in question was designed by two computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon and is called Libratus which is Latin for balanced. Dong Kim is a professional poker player who specializes in Texas Hold ‘Em and is among the best in the world at this game.  Although he typically competes against others on high-stakes internet sites or Las Vegas casinos, this time Kim’s traveled to Pittsburgh to try and defeat the mighty Libratus even though he feels doubtful. “I didn’t realize how good it was until today,” says Kim. “I felt like I was playing against someone who was cheating like it could see my cards. I’m not accusing it of cheating. It was just that good,” he continued.

Libratus isn’t like your typical machine where it uses the same method over and over again to achieve the best results.  This machine changes the way it plays each time. Sometimes it will bluff on a bad hand when other times it won’t, and sometimes it will bet high on a good hand but low at other occasions. This makes it extremely difficult for opponents to find a weakness in their intelligent component. Two other top players who are also going to the computer are Jason Les and Daniel McAulay, and they too have described the machine in much the same way – that it will be near impossible to beat.

But, where this AI device is able to randomly change its strategy so frequently, does raise some concerns. Is it possible that the creators of Libratus are tweaking its settings in between games in the competition?  Libratus declined to answer, so who knows. And while humans and computers compete they also collaborate too. Humans may be capable of building these intelligent machines, but on the flip side, these intelligent machines can do tasks in such a way that we humans can’t.  Many AI systems these days work alongside humans, not in replace of them. So don’t be too surprised next time you’re at a casino and see a robot as your opponent. However, you may want to think twice about competing against them!

Libratus—a Latin word meaning balanced

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