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New AI Project Dominating Poker Champions, Demonstrates Revolutionary Concept

Jan 23, 2017 07:11 AM EST

Scientists and researchers are anxiously standing by as the Brains vs AI Poker Tournament is now in the works. However, for its first day, a bot has outsmarted its human opponents by a long shot. 

According to the Verge,, the Libratus bot from the Carnegie Mellon University emerged as a clear winner with a total winnning of $81,716, compared to the human's winning of $7,228. However, both human players and the bot's creators have cautioned that it's too early to decide whether or not the 20-day tournament will result in the robot's win.

Leaps Ahead from Claudico

However, it's also clear that Libratus is a clear improvement from 2015's Claudico, which ended up losing against its opponents.

Jason Les, one of the four poker pros in the tournament, told the Verge that Libratus is better than Claudico. It appears capable of using some complex strategies of "small bets, calls and very large wagers." These elements are hard for humans to balance correctly in their mind, but it appears their bots are doing it quite perfectly.

Jimmy Chou, another pro, said another impressive thing the bot is doing are strategies like "pre-flop" and "post-flops." These, according to the Poker Listings website, are very advanced strategies that top regulars implement in their own game.

Sam Ganzfried, a professor that helped develop some of CMU's earlier poker bots and now teaches at Florida International University, said Libratus appears to have solved to "key" weaknesses that humans exploit in the past. The first is card removal, which means the system takes its own cards into consideration when bluffing, and off-tree problems, which means Libratus no longer approximates the size of its opponents bets.

Libratus appears to be more precise than its predecessors. In particular, they developed a new technique called the "nested endgame solving," which allows the bot to compute new strategies as it happens. Noam Brown, a PhD student from CMU who helped design the system, said their new strategy allows their bots to have balance strategies.

After playing a few rounds against the AI, poker pros were able to sense and exploit this style of play. Brown said Claudico's strategy before allowed them to notice its movements and took advantage of it.

However, if Libratus can beat some of the world's  best in No-Limit Texas Hold'em, it'd be a milestone in AI research that is almost comprable to Deep Blue's triumph in chess and AlphaGo's victory in Go.  

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