AI defeats the world's best poker players #BrainsvsAI

As AI continues to advance, a self-learning programme has now been developed to intelligently defeat the world’s top poker players.AI programme beats humans at their own game

Libratus is an artificial intelligence (AI) computer programme developed to play poker – specifically no-limit Texas hold ‘em. The programme does not have a fixed strategy; it was designed to learn itself with an algorithm that computes the strategy.

With the ability to bluff and correctly interpret misleading information, this unbelievably clever programme managed to best some of the world’s top poker players in a gruelling 20-day tournament. 4 players were stationed in front of computer screens for 11 hours each day in an epic battle of human vs machine. In the end, Libaratus walked away (not literally) the victor, winning an astonishing $1.7m in chips – thankfully for the human counterparts it wasn’t real money!

The Guardian described this as “a crushing defeat for humanity, but a major milestone for artificial intelligence.”

Previous poker-playing AI programme Claudico lost the same tournament in 2015. Libratus came along bigger and better, with improved computing power. Libratus’ creators Tuomas Sandholm and PhD student Noam Brown gave Libaratus the rules of the game, and no predefined strategy. It was able to learn on its own, having played trillions of hands to perfect its winning strategy.

After each day Liberatus would be connected to the Pittsburgh supercomputer to run algorithms that improved its strategy further overnight. As its human counterparts slept, Libratus was assessing algorithms and evolving its strategy, ready to start the day better than before.

Interestingly, the programme and algorithms that sit behind Libratus aren’t just suited to a game of poker. They could be aligned to a number of other situations and scenarios, from negotiating business deals to generating military or cybersecurity strategies. With the ability to generate its own strategies, correctly understand human deception and bluff, this AI would be in a strong position for many roles that could be considered ‘human only’ tasks.

In many ways, technology is designed and developed to make human life easier and more comfortable, solve problems and in some cases save lives. Although Libratus is an extraordinary machine, the feedback from the players is highly relatable.

“Libratus turned out to be way better than we imagined. It’s slightly demoralising,” said poker player Jason Les, who also played against Claudico two years ago.

“If you play a human and lose, you can stop, take a break. Here we have to show up to take a beating every day for 11 hours a day. It’s a real different emotional experience when you’re not used to losing that often,” said Les.

Liberatus’ creators are understandably very proud of their creation and how far AI has come in recent years. It’s a huge step forward in the world of AI and opens up countless possibilities moving forward.

Brown said: “When I see the bot bluff the humans, I’m like, ‘I didn’t tell it to do that. I had no idea it was even capable of doing that.’ It’s satisfying to know I created something that can do that.”