After crushing humans in complex Go board game and chess, Artificial Intelligence is acing it in Poker. A complex, AI-based computer program named “Libratus” made by Carnegie Mellon University is beating several expert Poker players at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, where a marathon no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament is scheduled in which over 120,000 hands will be dealt in 20 days. The tournament was started on January 11. The “Poker Bot” started to beat poker players instantly, but as the time progressed, it seemed humans had it figured out as they started to narrow down the deficit. The deficit in the first two days was $193,000, which then came down to $51,000, with one human player, Dong King, up $33,000. But thanks to the self-learning mechanisms of Libratus bot, humans are now losing big time. The artificial intelligent Poker robot is up by over $800,000, with all of the humans down six figures.

So why a robot is beating expert poker players? The main reason is the supercomputers used in algorithms and self-learning techniques. Libratus builds its internal maps based on the moves of its opponents.

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Why Was It Difficult for Bots to Beat Poker Players?

For decades, people believed that Poker cannot be learned and imitated by bots, mainly because Poker requires human connection, judgement and learning based on body languages and eye movements. But Libratus has proved all of this wrong. It is important to note that artificial intelligence winning at Poker is a remarkable achievement because Poker isn’t like Chess, Checkers or Go. In Poker, the opponent’s hand remains hidden all the time. There is simply no information or input for the computer in this case. And yet Libratus is beating humans in Poker, that too in no-limit Texas hold’em which an opponent could essentially bet any amount.

Scientists agree that Poker is the hardest game for AI because there is not one optimal move. The element of randomized inputs and learning is colossal in betting.

Professor Tuomas Sandholm’s Magic Worked

Libratus Poker bot was created by Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Tuomas Sandholm, and his graduate student Noam Brown. Professor Sandhom, who has a PhD is Game Theory and AI, says that the fact that humans outplayed AI in Poker for so long just “blows his mind”. He is extremely impressed with professional Poker players who compete, beat or even come close to bots in Poker matches.

Sandholm spearheaded the development of another Poker bot in the past, named Claudico, but it was easily beaten by professional Poker players. This time, Sandholm came up with new techniques, including “equilibrium approximation technique” which continuously try to find the perfect balance between randomized bluffs and moves.



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