Artificial Intelligence

Carnegie Mellon's Poker-Playing AI Loses Tournament

Claudico, an artificial intelligence (AI) program created at Carnegie Mellon University finished in second-to-last place in the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" exhibition tournament that began on April 24 at Rivers Casino in Pennsylvania, but the difference in score is not large enough to be statistically significant, according to information from the university.

During the two-week tournament, Claudico played 20,000 hands of poker with each of four of the world's best players of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold'em. "Bjorn Li had an individual chip total of $529,033, Doug Polk had $213,671 and Dong Kim had $70,491. Jason Les trailed Claudico by $80,482," stated a news release from Carnegie Mellon. No actual wagering took place during the tournament, but the four professional players earned appearance fees based on their performance.

While the results of the tournament were not statistically significant, they did provide Claudico's developers with a plethora of data to improve its algorithms. The scientists plan to use the 80,000 hands of data to train and test future iterations of the AI program.

One area for improvement is the program's betting logic. "Where a human might place a bet worth half or three-quarters of the pot, Claudico would sometimes bet a miserly 10 percent or an over-the-top 1,000 percent," stated the news release.

While the scientists are striving to develop software that can beat humans at poker, the end-goal of the endeavor is to develop artificial intelligence that can make good decisions in the face of incomplete information. Poker is an ideal testing ground for that type of AI because the game requires players to mislead their opponents. If it can learn to detect deceptions such as bluffing and show play, it can learn to help people solve problems.

"Beating humans isn't really our goal; it's just a milestone along the way," said Tuomas Sandholm, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon who has led development of Claudico, in a prepared statement. "What we want to do is create an artificial intelligence that can help humans negotiate or make decisions in situations where they can't know all of the facts."

Judging by the advances the scientists have made over the last eight months since Claudico's predecessor, Tartanian7, competed in a poker tournament, they believe their AI may be able to outwit the world's best players in as little as one year.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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