AI Computer Beats Human Poker Players by Nearly $800,000

14 April, 2017

An artificial intelligence, or AI program has again beaten a group of human poker players to win $792,000 in virtual money.

The AI program won during a recent competition against experienced poker players in China. More than 36,000 hands were played during a 5-day competition on China's Hainan Island.

The computer went up against a group of six human players led by Alan Du, a winner in the 2016 World Series of Poker tournament. The human team said it attempted to play against the AI system like a machine, rather than using traditional methods of humans.

The winning system is called Lengpudashi, or "cold poker master." It was developed by engineers at America's Carnegie Mellon University. A previous version of the AI system beat four top poker players in the world in a U.S. competition last January.

Results of the competition between Lengpudashi AI and top poker players in Hainan, China. (Sinovation Ventures)
Results of the competition between Lengpudashi AI and top poker players in Hainan, China. (Sinovation Ventures)

Artificial intelligence is the capability of a computer to learn to perform human-like operations and make decisions. This can be achieved by putting large amounts of data into a computer for processing.

Algorithms are also used to help computers learn through experiences the same way humans do. This kind of AI technology is used in machine translation systems like Google Translate.

Last year, Google's AI system AlphaGo beat a Korean champion in the ancient Chinese board game Go.

The two wins show how AI development has greatly increased in the ability to succeed against humans. But poker differs from Go in that a player keeps his cards hidden from the opponent. Poker players also use techniques to trick opponents into thinking they have a better hand than they actually do. This is one area where a computer can find it hard to match human thinking and actions.

But a co-creator of the Lengpudashi program, Noam Brown, said the computer even performed well in this part of the competition.

"People think that bluffing is very human -- it turns out that's not true," said Brown, a computer scientist and student. "A computer can learn from experience that if it has a weak hand and it bluffs, it can make more money," Brown told Bloomberg.

Brown and Carnegie Mellon professor Tuomas Sandholm won $290,000 in the competition. The money will go to Strategic Machine Inc., a company started by the two to develop AI.

The company is involved in many other areas besides games. These include AI solutions that can be applied to business, negotiation, cybersecurity, political campaigns, and medical treatment.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

poker n. card game in which players bet money of the value of their cards

virtualadj. representing something without actually being it

handn. the cards held by a player in a card game

master n. person who becomes very skilled at something

algorithmn. set of steps that are followed in order to solve a mathematical problem or to complete a computer process

cardn. small piece of stiff paper used to play games

bluffn. pretend to do or know something to trick someone into doing what you want