Humans Remain the Poker Champs
In the much awaited poker match between man and machine, man proves that he is still the best. At the start of this week, Ali Estami and Phil Laak (the Unabomber) took on the challenge of Polaris, touted as the poker computer program that would beat human poker players. The “First Man-Machine Poker Championship” was held in a hotel in Vancouver, Canada and lasted for four rounds. The result? Polaris folded after four rounds.
The event was staged at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a prize money of $50,000 was offered. Of course, to these poker pros, this prize money is not that high. It is, in fact, peanuts. However, the stakes were much higher than the money itself. Was a computer program supposed to beat the likes of the Unabomber?
This concept is nothing new. In fact, in games like chess, artificial intelligence has reigned supreme, beating the Master Kasparov. Yet for now, poker seems to be man’s turf. There is no doubt about it, poker is a bit more complicated than chess. There are so many other factors that might have not have been incorporated in the creation of Polaris, such as poker tells.
After the game, the creators of Polaris admitted defeat, but only temporarily. According to Darse Billings, a member of the Polaris team and a former professional poker player, Estami and Laak played brilliantly. Yet, he goes on to say that “I wouldn’t be surprised if we can beat them tomorrow.” Just when “tomorrow” is going to be, we don’t know yet.