Poker Playing Machines Move Forward

Scientists in Alberta, Canada claim to have built an unbeatable heads up opponent

According to the professional journal Science, a group of scientists in the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta have perfected an unbeatable Texas Hold'Em heads up computer program titled Cepheus.

Reporting on the achievement, the group claimed:

"Poker is a family of games that exhibit imperfect information, where players do not have full knowledge of past events.

"Whereas many perfect-information games have been solved, such as Connect Four and Checkers, no imperfect-information game played competitively by humans has previously been solved. Here, we announce that heads-up limit Texas hold'em is now essentially solved."

Cepheus apparently searches its "database of pre-computed game situations to find the most optimal move at any given moment."

And it improves with practice, according to the researchers, who claim: "The program started out knowing the basic rules of poker, and as it played itself, it got better, and updated its strategy."

They report that their program is now playing "so close to optimal that, at the pace a human plays poker, it cannot be beaten with statistical significance in a lifetime."

The program considered 24 trillion simulated poker hands per second for two months, probably playing more poker than all humanity has ever experienced, Michael Bowling, who led the project, told the Associated Press news agency.

Bad luck can still delay the inevitable, but in the long run Cepheus will win against the best players in the world, Science reports.

Associated Press reports that the Alberta work could have useful spin-offs in mathematical approaches to decision making such as helping doctors determine proper insulin doses for diabetic patients, developing strategies for negotiations, auctions, cybersecurity, designing drugs and fighting disease pandemics.

The University of Alberta is bringing the program to public attention by creating a website where people can ask it for advice and even play against it.

The program requires significant amounts of computing power to operate, along with sophisticated compression and delivery technology to facilitate its access to a massive amount of data.

While scientists have created poker-playing programs for years, and pitched programs against top players like Phil Laak (see previous InfoPowa reports), Cepheus stands out because it comes so close to the optimal strategy.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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