Robots make formidable poker players

Date:15 July 2019 Author: Sam Spiller Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,

AI jumps to the next level as a robot called Pluribus takes on six human players in no-limit Texas Hold’em.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing at a rapid rate. The technology is becoming more and more commonplace in the working world thanks to the likes of Amazon’s Alexa and self-driving cars. One area that AI has always succeeded in is when it goes up against humans in a game of some sort. Recently, an AI has taken this another step forward by beating multiple human players in no-limit Texas Hold’em poker.

The AI in question goes by the name of Pluribus. Designed by Noam Brown and Tuomas Sandholm, Pluribus is different to previous AI’s that have been designed to play two-player poker. Due to the increased number of players it was to go up against, it could not predict every potential outcome of a hand as there would have been too many to calculate. Instead, Pluribus calculates a number of early moves that could be played, combined with an analysis of the strategies that the human players are using.

Pluribus started out by playing against several copies of itself as a means to refine it’s own strategy. It then went on to play 10,000 hands of Texas Hold’em against five opponents. These opponents were chosen from a collection of 13 professional poker players who had won more than $1 million playing the game. Thanks to it’s calculations, Pluribus was able to win an average of $480 for every hand that was played. According to Brown and Sandholm, this is the amount of winnings professional players seek in regular poker games.

AI’s that are programmed to play games against human opponents have been in development since the early days of computers. The most famous being Deep Blue, a computer developed by IBM that defeated world chess champion, Gerry Kasparov, in 1997. Another recent example is an AI being developed by Google and a company called DeepMind, which is designed to go up against players of the real-time strategy video game, Starcraft II. After winning ten out of eleven games against professionals in an exhibition match, the AI will now take on regular players online.

Being able to play poker is not the only goal for Pluribus. It’s creators believe that the research and it’s results can eventually be used to make political and business-based decisions, as well as improve cybersecurity measures. They also want to experiment with more complex games than poker, such as a version of chess called Kriegspiel wherein players cannot see each other’s pieces.

Source: 10.1126/science.aay2400

Image: Unsplash

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