Poker Bots No Limit Texas Turing Poker

Poker bots, software programs that autonomously play in online poker games, are getting a lot better. Casinos fear that they may drive human players away, either because the poker bots are much better players or because people will shy away from this form of online betting because they believe they have no chance against a computer opponent.


(Take a look at your hole cards)

Ian Ayres (author of the new book Super Crunchers (highly recommended, BTW), believes that computers are getting almost as good at poker as they are at games like chess and checkers. He writes

In the very near future, online poker may become a suckers’ game that humans won’t have a chance to win. Bots are quite scale-able and it will be virtually impossible to prohibit computer or computer-assisted online playing...

...it’s because poker is a game of skill that humans’ chance of winning are undermined. Unlike checkers, the key to poker is to predict whether other players are bluffing. On the Internet (without the possibility of visual cues), computers are probably better at predicting a rival’s hand from his or her past play. But computers are much better at confounding the expectations of their human opponents. Computers can play randomized strategies much better than we can.

Alan Turing, the English mathematician and cryptographer, formulated the Turing test for machine intelligence; if a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human being and a machine, and cannot distinguish one from the other, the machine passes the test.

One strategy the casinos might employ is to put the human element back into poker. For example, it might be more fun (for humans) to participate in a n-way video chat with the other players. That way, a person might have a better chance of seeing what he's up against.

Not all human players are concerned about poker bots. One of the people who commented on Ian's article in the New York Times remarked:

HU NL Hold’em [heads up no limit - ed] will never be a game dominated by computer software. My human opponents are thousands of times more sophisticated than any Bot could ever be, true randomness and intuition can not be programmed into a series of responses. Limit Hold’em is to NL Hold’em as flipping coins for money is to betting on sports. The level of complexity is staggering. Anyone who seeks to prove differently can design a Bot to my specific play style and see if they can beat me.

Sounds like the game is on.

From Poker bots on the rise via boing boing.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/14/2007)

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