At the Association
for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference this week in Vancouver, B.C. two humanoid poker masters defeated a computer poker program known as “Polaris.” Phil "The Unabomber" Laak (a mechanical engineer and previous winner on the World Poker Tour), and Ali Eslami (a gaming consultant turned pro poker player) defeated Polaris in the last two matches, although Polaris managed to win one match and earned a draw in the initial two matches.
The computer Polaris program was jointly created by a team of twelve college professors, staff engineers and graduate students at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. Polaris’s algorithms were created in advance as a sort of giant database of thousands of potential poker hands.
The tourney consisted of 2,000 hands of poker played in four 500-hand sessions, with cards electronically dealt from randomly generated card decks. There were two copies of the Polaris program simultaneously playing against the two poker pros, and the humans were isolated from each other in separate rooms. The humans had a slight advantage, in that they did not have a time limit as they thought about which cards to play during their matches.
Both humans split a $50,000 prize for winning the match.