Humans win first Man-Machine Poker Championship

July 26th, 2007

This week the annual conference for the Association for the Advancement Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) hosted the First Man-Machine Poker Championship. A poker-playing computer program developed by researchers from the University of Alberta challenged two top-level poker professionals in a controlled scientific experiment with $50,000 of real money on the line. The game? Texas Hold ‘Em heads-up limit poker.

“The competition will consist of four 500-hand duplicate matches. In each duplicate match, the same series of cards will be dealt in two parallel Man versus Machine matches, with teammates playing the opposite hands in each game. At the end of the match, the total number of chips won or lost by each team is added together to determine the winning team. This format is used to reduce the element of random luck to a minimum, and get a much better indication of the differences in skill.

The human team of Phil Laak and Ali Eslami won two rounds out of three and hence the match.

Here’s the kickoff introduction by Jonathan Schaeffer from the University of Alberta and a post match interview with Phil and Ali

You can also read John Markoff’s story in the times, In Poker Match Against a Machine, Humans Are Better Bluffers. Ironically, that story appeared in the Times’ business section.