Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Man versus machine

John Henry versus steam power, Kasparov versus Deep Blue, and now...Phil Laak versus Polaris, a poker playing computer program. Everyone knows that you can pick off online n00bs on the Internets with bot software. But can a computer stand up against professional players like Phil Laak and Ali Eslami? The University of Alberta wanted to find out. To their credit, they set up a very fair format. There were four rounds of 500 hands per round. In each round there are two heads-up matches between a carbon player and a silicon player. The hands however are identical so Phil gets AK versus the computer's QQ on the same hand that Ali gets QQ against the computer's AK in order to factor out card rushes from the competition. The other main thing that struck me was that the game was limit Hold'em. With all due respect to Andy Beal, I think getting a robot to play limit is a much easier nut to crack than PL or NL.

Cliffs Notes version: Statistical draw first round. Polaris wins second round. Humans win final two rounds. Not sure if humans just took a little while to dial into the bot tactics. Phil Laak was up. Ali Eslami was down but not enough to offset Phil's winnings. Overall: Humans were up in cash total as well as match results.

Details of the challenge. And for those ROT'ers out there, here are the results including link to hand histories.

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