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AI Classic Games (Games) Software Technology

Champions Declared In AI Poker Tournament 54

the_newsbeagle writes "The annual computer poker competition has just wrapped up, in which artificial intelligences battled each other over the (virtual) Texas Hold 'Em table. A researcher who worked on one of the top programs, the University of Alberta's "Hyperborean" program, has blogged about this year's competition and entrants for IEEE Spectrum. His first post explains the rules of the game and why it's tougher for a computer to win at poker than at chess; his second post describes Hyperborean's strategies, and the third gives the results and takes stock of Hyperborean's performance."
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Champions Declared In AI Poker Tournament

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  • Re:Mindgames (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2012 @04:51PM (#40783515)

    According to the human players, poker is largely about mind games.

    In AI poker, the competitors should be able to send files to each other, or somehow exchange non-game information.

    The object is to hide you "tells" and bluffs. Maybe the programs should try and hack each other while they play. The program with the weakest security exposes his cards.

  • Re:Mindgames (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @05:05PM (#40783675) Journal

    Hiding tells and bluffs are nearly impossible for even skilled players. The real trick is to show a "tell" or "bluff" when you aren't. But that means you must know yourself as well as anything else.

    I play poker, I have a huge number of "tells". Take video of yourself playing poker and learn your "tells" and figure out a way to mimic those tells at will. Natural Tells are really really hard to fake, and take much practice to imitate. When you can imitate your own tells at will (accurately), then you'll have also mastered your tells. I can't fully hide my tells, but I can fairly accurately represent them when I want.

    The greatest skill of poker is remembering everything you have ever seen. Knowing how players play (tendencies) over time also helps. Knowing their personality also can expose when their tells are real verses "practiced" ones.

    Lastly knowing the Odds is hugely beneficial. As is Gaming Theory.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @06:43PM (#40784725)
    I believe Limit is actually soft solved by computers, in that it is profitable vs most players in the world.
    No limit is difficult to solve vs players who change their gears a lot. Players that don't change gears, you just gotta see their play style and play counter to them. However if I was just going to write a program who played NL, I'd start by just playing my own cards and being conservative. I believe the conservative NL player can still win online.

    Poker is a very complex game, but appears forgiving on the outlook because even bad players win occasionally. The trick is to be profitable. And even when you're profitable, you want to keep becoming more skillful because it helps your short term and long term profits. Anyone who hasn't tried this game, I recommend you play in freerolls(never use your own money when you have less than 1500 hours of experience), and work your way up. It is like a long and difficult RPG.
    I'm quite good at Texas Holdem myself and I'm profitable over the long run. I've played about 4,000 hours though. If you go with the motto: Never risk any of my own money, and my Holdem Bankroll is separate from my liferoll, you can play. But if you don't respect your money and treat it like gambling, you could destroy your own life.
  • Re:Mindgames (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @06:59PM (#40784905)
    I was initially going to just mod this informative and/or insightful, but I wanted to add on instead.

    There's certainly some value to understanding tells:

    Does your opponent look back at their hole cards when a middling card hits the board?    Do they reflexively look at their chips when the flop comes out?  Do they make a bet and give a speech about why they're betting?  Are they quiet when they weren't before?  Are they sitting upright when they were slouched before?  All of these mean things - and they all mean different things coming from different players of different experience and skill...

    ....but none of those things are as important as understanding bet sizing and hand ranges and putting that together with a player's history.  The glint in your opponent's eyes isn't nearly as important as the fact that he re-raised out of the small blind when defending against a raise from the cutoff.  What hands do this and why?  How often does he do this?  What does that say about his cards -- or what does it at least say about what cards he's representing.  What does it mean when the early limper gets raised and then HE re-raises?

    Sure, players lie, but bets speak WAY louder than tells.

    Side note: A number of top game pros take beta blockers.  Most of their edge comes from understanding the game, but they'll do everything they can do protect the remaining part of the puzzle that is tells -- especially the impossible to prevent ones that adrenaline rushes cause (and beta blockers prevent).
  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @07:02PM (#40784927)
    This already happened.  It was called, "every large poker site on the internet," as they all had bots playing on them.

    They were, by large, profitable at low limits playing high volume against mediocre players.

    If you'd like to play head's up poker against a computer, it's available at many casinos:
  • Re:Mindgames (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2012 @07:12PM (#40785027)

    There is no "real trick" to poker, although there are certainly tricks that will work against specific types of opponents. To be a good poker player you have to acquire a lot of very different skills and knowledge some of which you may already have a talent for and most of which you must learn. You need to know about pot odds, expected value, stack sizes, position, outs, hand ranges, odds against making a drawing hand, and a bunch of other very basic ideas just to get started. If you have a talent for math and probability you will be that much farther ahead, but you don't have to be a maths wiz to be a poker pro. I would recommend Dan Harrington's "Harrington on Cash Games" for a beginner. The strategies for tournament and cash poker (i'm assuming we're talking about No Limit Hold'em) are very different. If you want to play tournaments you'd want to get Harrington's "Harrington on Hold'em" series of books.

    Body language and tells become important when you are playing against live opponents, but you still have to be able to figure out what the observed tells mean, and whether they are genuine. You can read Navarro's "What Every Body is Saying" for a good review of body language stuff. After that you can start working on controlling your emotions at the table so you don't "go on tilt" and lose all your chips.

    The math you need to play poker isn't difficult you just have to practice doing it in your head, and learn shortcuts so you're not staring off into outer space trying to solve complicated math problems at the poker table. Being able to easily memorize things would be helpful, but you don't have to be a savant.

    The math isn't going to do you a lot of good if you can't employ logical reasoning skills. The most valuable piece of information in the game of poker is the knowledge of the cards your opponent holds. The better you are at determining what cards your opponent holds the better decisions you can make. To accomplish this you need two things:

    1. information
    2. logical reasoning skills

    You take the information you have (the way your opponent has played the hand, any physical tells you might think you've picked up on, the way you think your opponent generally plays, etc.) and you apply logical reasoning to sort through the information and determine why your opponent is behaving the way he is and what cards he might have. Usually your opponent will be on what poker player's call a "level". A level just describes how a particular player thinks about and plays poker. Once you know what level your opponent is thinking on you will have a good idea of how he plays and you can better predict what range of hands he might hold, and exploit him. Likewise, if an opponent figures out how you think you should be prepared to adapt.

  • Re:Mindgames (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @07:48PM (#40785381)

    Depending on tells is what people who watched Quantum of Solace too many times do. Good poker players base their play on a) a solid game themselves and b) determining their opponents' play style. Does the guy usually check a raise? Does he bet the flop or pocket pairs or a pocket ace more than he should?

    Most professional poker players these days play online most of the time, where tells are almost nonexistent.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.