Human Pros Dominating Poker Robot – For Now

At the halfway point of the “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” poker tournament between software developed at Carnegie Mellon University and four of the world’s top players, the humans are handily winning.

The CMU computer program, named Claudico, is playing a total of approximately 80,000 hands of Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold’em against Doug Polk, Dong Kim, Bjorn Li and Jason Les. After 42,100 hands, together the humans lead by 626,892 chips.

Claudico is in 4th place out of 5 people. Though much could change in the week remaining, the lead of 600,000 chips is considered statistically significant and means it is likely the computer will not win.

The team behind Claudico are hopeful, however, because the program is learning to adapt to the humans’ style of play. It may do better in the second half of the competition as a result.

“Claudico performs real-time reasoning while playing a hand and improves its strategy during the match by continuously computing,” says Tuomas Sandholm, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon who led the development of Claudico. “I know many people are rooting for the humans, but I’m still hopeful that Claudico will give them a run for their money.”

“This is quite possibly the highest-quality poker ever seen,” Sandholm continued. “Furthermore, both Claudico and the humans are improving their game throughout the event. Both sides are already playing stronger than they were at the start. I have been extremely impressed by the pros’ ability to improve and adjust their game no matter what curve balls Claudico has thrown at them.”

If Claudico pulls out the win, it would be a massive achievement for artificial intelligence research. Heads-up no-limit Texas Hold’em poker is one of the hardest games for a computer to win because it involves mind-boggling amounts of possible decisions, not all of them immediately logical.

The game will continue this week until a winner is crowned.

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