Poker Playing Artificial Intelligence Beats Professionals

source: MIT Technology Review

Poker requires a skill that has always seemed uniquely human: the ability to be devious. To win, players must analyze how their opponents are playing and then trick them into handing over their chips. Such cunning, of course, comes pretty naturally to people. Now an AI program has, for the first time, shown itself capable of outwitting a whole table of poker pros using similar skills.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Facebook used a combination of AI techniques to out-bet and out-bluff human players in a game of six-player, no-limit Texas Hold’em. Each of the humans involved had previously won more than a million dollars at the poker table—which included Darren Elias, who holds the record for most World Poker Tour titles, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, who has won six World Series of Poker titles, as well as one inferior poker bot.

The new AI, Pluribus, played 5,000 hands against the poker players and consistently won more than its opponents. In another test involving 13 players and 10,000 hands, the bot again emerged victorious. Pluribus adopted some surprising strategies, including “donk betting,” or ending one round with a call but then starting the next round with a bet. It also bluffed like a seasoned pro.

“You typically figure out where your opponent is weak, but there was no finding weaknesses,” says Jason Les, one of the poker pros in the game. “This AI was so strong you couldn’t find anything to exploit or take advantage of.”

Jason Les
Professional Poker player

Poker Playin’ Artificial Intelligence