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AI Classic Games (Games) Math

An AI Is Finally Trouncing The World's Best Poker Players ( 164

Halfway through the "Brains vs. AI" poker competition, an AI named Libratus is trouncing its human opponents, who are four of the world's top professional players. One of the pros, Jimmy Chou, said he and his colleagues initially underestimated Libratus, but have come to regard it as one tough player. "The bot gets better and better every day," Chou said. "It's like a tougher version of us"... Chou said he and the other pros have shared notes and tips each day, looking for weaknesses they can each exploit. "The first couple of days, we had high hopes," Chou said. "But every time we find a weakness, it learns from us and the weakness disappears the next day."
By Saturday, the AI had amassed a lead of $693,531 after 56,732 hands in the 120,000-hand match (which is being livestreamed by the Rivers Casino on Twitch). "I'm feeling good," said Tuomas Sandholm, the computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who co-created the AI. "The algorithms are performing great. They're better at solving strategy ahead of time, better at driving strategy during play and better at improving strategy on the fly."
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An AI Is Finally Trouncing The World's Best Poker Players

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  • Goal post (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Evil Atheist ( 2484676 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @07:49AM (#53714667) Homepage
    Cue the goal post shifting.
  • Do we need AI to play poker? A traditional program made by a dev well aware of both poker rules and probabilities should be more than enough to defeat mere humans.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Should it fold if the opponents bet outweighs the probability?
      If the AI uses probabilities, it itself becomes predictable and therefore trivial to beat.
      The game is setup to make you lose if you only play good hands, so there is no playing safe in poker.
      Probabilities in poker are nearly meaningless if you play against even half-decent amateurs.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      If it was real AI it would be self-aware. And the computer would be wearing mirrored sunglasses.
      • Self awareness is only a small part of intelligence. Our brains do a lot of processing that's not self aware.
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        If it was real AI it would be self-aware.

        No, that just not what "AI" means, any more than "sentient" means self-aware. Science Fiction keeps abusing those terms, but they have mainstream meanings. AI is clever algorithms that imitate intelligent behavior. Which means it could still be wearing mirrored sunglasses.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Ironically, modern neuroscience is beginning to find evidence that your self awareness might consist in large part of your conscious simply being told of decisions that your subconscious has already made. Disturbing thought, isn't it?

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      A static system fails to good play. Take the most common situation, computer is in the big blind (i.e. you had a forced blind bet before you were dealt). 1/2 the hands dealt will be less than average. Folding a raise with a substandard hand subsidizes your opponent almost always raising regardless of his cards. So you can't fold. Calling a raise with a substandard hand subsidizes your opponent better hands, he raises when he is good and mucks when he isn't. So you can't call. Reraising with substanda

  • Sounds boring (Score:2, Redundant)

    by alzoron ( 210577 )

    Without the psychological aspect of staring your opponents in the face it's just a calculation of odds. Takes most of what makes poker poker out of the equation.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Actions speak louder than professional poker faces. Professional poker players pay attention to the betting histories, both in the current game and over longer time periods, of their opponents. That information is also available to the computer.

  • Important milestone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mostly a lurker ( 634878 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @07:59AM (#53714691)

    Unlike with games like Chess (best moves can be precisely calculated) and Backgammon (simple probabilities), Poker requires adapting to human behavior, indeed varying your play depending on what you learn about your opponent. The techniques are going to be applicable to a wide range of situations. For instance, I will go so far as to claim that we will shortly be wise to use an AI to advise us on investment decisions. (In the past, the computer has been used for speed, and reacting to subtle market signals, but not so much for long term investment planning.)

    The next challenge is going to be independent learning. I believe human experts still supervise the learning process of all the best AIs. Once the need for the human adviser goes away, AIs are literally going to be everywhere. Your phone AI will recognize and react to your current mental state, as well as help you overcome everyday problems. The AI in your fridge could become a huge help in keeping you compliant with your diet plans.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:11AM (#53714717)

      Basically, it is the skill to con a human. I see great reprehensible applications in advertising, manipulation of elections and other fields of human-created evil.

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you eat that doughnut. Fatass.
    • That's not true. Poker does not require adapting to human behaviour. Just like in chess, poker AIs are always thinking about the best possible counter to their moves and trying to come up with a strategy to that (this process is repeated many times). No understanding of human behaviour is needed, an I expect that Libratus has no code in it whatsoever that adapts to the opponent it is playing.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        If you find a Nash equilibrium for a finite two person zero sum game, then you can't lose in the long run and you never adapt to the other person's strategy---you just play the Nash equilibrium strategy. In limit two person holdem, the Nash equilibrium was found by the University of Alberta ( That strategy did not adapt to the human players. On the other hand, in the July 2015 video

    • Unlike with games like Chess (best moves can be precisely calculated)

      True in theory, but in practice the search space is too big.

    • "August 4, 1997, and it began to learn at a geometric rate. At 2:14 a.m., EDT, on August 29, it gained artificial consciousness, and the panicking operators, realizing the full extent of its capabilities, tried to deactivate it."

      Yeah, well, the movie was a bit ahead of its time.....

    • Just don't hook it up to any missile command system.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ledow ( 319597 )

      Poker doesn't.

      It just has a larger search space.

      We've only just got to the point where Chess is beatable, very recently in computing terms.

      We've only just seen a tiny glimpse that Go may be beatable. Google's AI is literally leaps-and-bounds ahead of the game in that respect as the search space is so much unbelievably huger than chess that chess is laughable in comparison.

      The search space for poker - the card game - is complete. We know it exactly, down to the probability of everything. What we don't hav

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by epine ( 68316 )

        Google's AI is literally leaps-and-bounds ahead of the game in that respect as the search space is so much unbelievably huger than chess that chess is laughable in comparison.

        Most people are too nice to point this out, but what you just wrote here amounts to waving a bright red "I'm an idiot" flag.

        Consider this: the search space of Go 25x25 is so much unbelievably huger than Go 19x19 that Go 19x19 is laughable in comparison.

        But wait, I'm not done.

        Consider this: the search space of Go 37x37 is so much unbeli

        • Putting aside your silly examples, would you agree with parent that Go is a much more complex game than chess, even if judged by other criteria than game tree size ?
          • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @03:42PM (#53716405) Journal

            Not as humans play it. You don't play the early game, or any area where pieces are sparse, by exhaustive analysis, but that's where the mechanical search space would be largest. (Much like humans don't play the endgame in chess that way.) "Complexity" of the naive search space, before even the most basic pruning, isn't an interesting measure.

            Playing as humans play, the early game in chess is more complex than go, the midgame is similar, the endgame is much more complex in go. Go is harder to write a bot for, because chess is more complex in ways that are hard for humans, while go is more complex in ways that are hard to program. Does that make it a "more complex game"? Maybe - it's all down to definitions.

            • I'm probably at a 1300 ELO in chess, which means I can probably manage to not completely embarrass myself against the chess club president at Podunk High School, but reliably beat anyone who hasn't given the game some relatively serious study. I've read a dozen or so books about openings and endgames, and I keep some chess engines kicking around the smartphone and computer, but I've never had any serious interest in mastery nor any real hope of it. That said, one of the first things one notices about comput

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          When you're excoriating someone, particularly on the Internet, you really shouldn't use words you've only ever heard. A cantor is someone who leads people in singing. I think you meant "canter" which is a quadrupedal gait between a trot and a gallop.

    • since most stock "advisors" are actually salesmen who get commissioned for pushing certain stocks (and IIRC they'll even tell you that, albeit with the weaselistly words possible).

      What worries me is that this is another case of increased efficiency in our economy. Inefficiency is a huge part of what keeps it all going. Now, it's certainly true that it's ridiculous to pay people to break windows to employ window makers; but I'm not convinced we're going to have anything for those window makers to do if t
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        As you increase efficiency, people can buy more fore the same money, so it evens out. Looked at a different way, set the notion of money aside: what we consume is what we produce (assuming an efficient market, so we're not producing stuff no one wants). More production will always mean more consumption. More efficiency just means more production, because we as consumers are never satisfied.

        Of course, times can get turbulent as jobs move to new areas faster than people can retrain, and this certainly isn'

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      There was a story on Slashdot a while ago about the world's largest hedge fund replacing their fund managers with computers. That's not really that impressive though, since many studies have shown you can replace fund managers with monkeys flipping coins and get the same performance.

      Many of the best learning systems are currently taught in an unsupervised way. They're fed stimuli and form their own internal model. Finally they're given a minimum of supervised training. Like a baby gazing around at the wo

  • Card counting? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by bluegutang ( 2814641 )

    Isn't card counting such an effective way to win at poker that casinos ban it? And shouldn't a poker AI count cards pretty much by default? So no wonder it's effective.

    • by Imrik ( 148191 )

      Card counting is for blackjack and is ineffective for all but the best at it. Casinos ban it because doing so encourages people to lose money trying and so they can get rid of the rare person that's good at it without any trouble.

      • Playing in Casinos is more like a IQ test. Only idiots and the few exceptional bright would play a game where everything is in the houses favor and the house can change the rules as they see fit.
        • by Imrik ( 148191 )

          The house can't change the rules as they see fit, at least for legal casinos. About the worst they can do is give you your winnings and throw you out. Sometimes, particularly with slots, you find cases where the players didn't fully understand the rules of the game.

          As for it being an IQ test, only idiots and the few exceptionally bright people would play a game in the house's favor and expect to win. If you expect to lose and do it as entertainment, it gives similar value to a lot of other forms of ente

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Depends on the variant. Poker is a game which you can graph pretty easily, with probabilities for "unknown" hands.

      The problem is not the card game, but the betting. You have many possibilities on how to bet and when to bet and that explodes the game graph. This AI has the betting in hand, not the card game (the latter is easy but in an incomplete-knowledge game like Texas Hold'em isn't enough on it's own).

      And there are STILL people, on here and other sites, that give you the "human element" bollocks beca

      • So then it's not playing like a human. It's still playing like a computer, and yeah, we all know computers can calculate statistics better so there is no real news here.
  • I would use it to earn money.
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      How do you know there aren't already thousands of these things out there doing just that?

  • What if...wha...oh. What if Trump's entire campaign is driven by an AI?

    "Now dispute crowd sizes. Celebrities and news media will double down on their loud Hollywood mouths. It matters little in the short run but builds background distrust of them. This will be used in 4 years."

  • by starless ( 60879 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @11:32AM (#53715295)

    So, will Libratus play against DeepStack (from the University of Alberta etc.), which also claims to be able to beat professional level humans...?

    DeepStack: Expert-Level Artificial Intelligence in No-Limit Poker

    DeepStack becomes the first computer program to beat professional poker players in heads-up no-limit Texas hold'em []

  • by mystik ( 38627 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @12:45PM (#53715629) Homepage Journal

    I've never used an online gambling site, but doesn't the existence of this AI kill off the fairness of these sites?

    If a user is running this in his or her basement, wouldn't it pay more to just babysit the AI, acting on all the human-check capchas the sites deploy, and just doing what the AI decides?

    This makes online poker effectively gold farming?

  • I think it's fantastic that we're making progress with 'smart pattern matching'. However, I still get disappointed when I read the hardware specs required to do so. Imagine for a moment: 5 humans competing in a highly complex game with several hundred inputs to each player; spatial, acoustic, thermal, temporal etc. The complex task of facial recognition of multiple players, and how that relates to our 'operating system'. Hiding your own emotions, doing the best you can with statistics, the sounds, the
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @01:17PM (#53715761)

    Libratus has a poker tell. His CPU fan speeds up whenever he gets a good hand.

  • and bring it to the casino?

A hacker does for love what others would not do for money.