Top Poker Pros Face Off Against Artificial Intelligence

January 5, 2017

Jan. 5 — Four of the world’s best professional poker players will compete against artificial intelligence developed by Carnegie Mellon University in an epic rematch to determine whether a computer can beat humans playing one of the world’s toughest poker games.

In “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante,” beginning Jan. 11 at Rivers Casino, poker pros will play a collective 120,000 hands of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em over 20 days against a CMU computer program called Libratus.

The pros — Jason Les, Dong Kim, Daniel McAulay and Jimmy Chou — are vying for shares of a $200,000 prize purse. The ultimate goal for CMU computer scientists, as it was in the first Brains Vs. AI contest at Rivers Casino in 2015, is to set a new benchmark for artificial intelligence.

“Since the earliest days of AI research, beating top human players has been a powerful measure of progress in the field,” said Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science. “That was achieved with chess in 1997, with Jeopardy! in 2009 and with the board game Go just last year. Poker poses a far more difficult challenge than these games, as it requires a machine to make extremely complicated decisions based on incomplete information while contending with bluffs, slow play and other ploys.”

A previous CMU computer program, called Claudico, collected fewer chips than three of the four pros who competed in the 2015 contest. The 80,000 hands played then proved to be too few to establish the superiority of human or computer with statistical significance, leading Sandholm and the pros to increase the number of hands by 50 percent for the rematch.

“I’m very excited to see what this latest AI is like,” said Les, a pro based in Costa Mesa, Calif. “I thought Claudico was tough to play; knowing the resources and the ideas that Dr. Sandholm and his team have had available in the 20 months since the first contest, I assume this AI will be even more challenging.”

Brains Vs. AI is sponsored by GreatPoint Ventures, Avenue4Analytics, TNG Technology Consulting GmbH, the journal Artificial Intelligence,Intel and Optimized Markets, Inc. Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science has partnered with Rivers Casino, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) through a peer-reviewed XSEDE allocation, and Sandholm’s Electronic Marketplaces Laboratory for this event.

“We were thrilled to host the first Brains Vs. AI competition with Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science at Rivers Casino, and we are looking forward to the rematch,” said Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers Casino. “The humans were the victors last time, but with a new AI from the No. 1 graduate school for computer science, the odds may favor the computer. It will be very interesting to watch and see if man or machine develops an early advantage.”

Les said it’s hard to predict the outcome. Not only is the AI presumably better, but the pros themselves are playing better.

“From the human side, poker has gotten much tougher in the last 20 months,” Les said. That’s because pros generally have embraced publicly available game theory tools that have elevated game play, he explained.

“Though some casual poker fans may not know all of them, Les, Kim, McAulay and Chou are among the very best Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em players in the world,” said Phil Galfond, a pro whose total live tournament winnings exceed $2.3 million and who owns the poker training site Runitonce.com. Unlike the multi-player poker tournaments popular on television, professional one-on-one No-Limit Texas Hold’em is often played online.

“Your favorite poker player almost surely wouldn’t agree to play any of these guys for high stakes, and would lose a lot of money if they did,” Galfond added. “Each of the four would beat me decisively.”

The Libratus AI encompasses new ideas and is being built with far more computation than any previous pokerbot, Sandholm said. To create it, he and his Ph.D. student Noam Brown started from scratch.

“We don’t write the strategy,” Sandholm said. “We write the algorithm that computes the strategy.” He and Brown have developed a new algorithm for computing strong strategies for imperfect-information games and are now using the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Bridges supercomputer to calculate what they hope will be the winning strategy.

“We’re pushing on the supercomputer like crazy,” Sandholm said, noting they have used around 15 million core hours of computation to build Libratus, compared with the 2-3 million core hours used for Claudico. That computing process will continue up to and during the contest.

The entire article can be found here.


Source: Byron Spice, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science

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