This 2017 marked a pivotal turning point in the two-decade-long battle for poker dominance between us humans and our creation, AI (Artificial Intelligence). Since 1984, when Mike Caro created the first ever AI poker software in order to practice for the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the AI poker bots have gotten better and smarter. Poker sites‘ study into the AI poker phenomenon tells us that not only are we no longer the better species when it comes to Poker, but we never stood a chance against the newest breed of poker AI. Though we have generally faced stiff competition since 2008 when Polaris, a poker bot created by the University of Alberta’s AI department, was able to beat us at a human-like rate, 2017 was the year that the scale tipped clearly in favor of our creations. Libratus, the most advanced AI poker bot ever created, played four of the best human professional players and crushed them decisively. Here is what happened and why we didn’t stand a chance.
Starting in January 2017 in Pittsburg, the four poker pros took on Libratus in a total of 120,000 hands of Limit Hold’em. Libratus, winning at an average win rate of 14.7 big blind per hand and for a total of $1.76 million, dealt the most devastating blow to humanity ever on the poker table. Libratus, the creation of the AI team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, is today the best poker player on earth. With the computing power of 30,000 average PC’s and at a cost of $9.65 million USD, Libratus is a self-teaching, self-strategizing poker bot who adjusts its strategy as it identifies flaws in its gameplay and opponent. It is 100% independent of human play strategy and has over 274 terabytes of RAM.
Advantages of AI
AI has some inherent advantages to human counterparts when it comes to poker. AI is not affected by fatigue and won’t get hungry or need to use the bathroom. Furthermore, AI has no emotions and doesn’t feel tilt or anger, neither over-confidence or fear of risk. All these are key advantages that a human simply can’t develop. Furthermore, an AI is capable of ramming in 20,000 years of human work into a single week. Additionally, electronic circuits function a million times faster than biochemical ones, making AI a much faster thinker than a human player. These factors combine to make it possible for an AI to out-practice, out-think and out-work a human every single time. What is even more disturbing is that AI’s like Libratus are now able to identify specific weaknesses in opponents and exploit them, targeting those weaknesses. Libratus is further only the tip of the iceberg and its creators have suggested a perfected version could be able to beat this version of Libratus by 15-bb/per hand played. This would mean a human would potentially be up against AI twice as good as Libratus in the very near future.
In effect, simply by the fact that AI doesn’t need to eat, sleep or feel emotion, they already had a huge advantage. Add the speed by which it can compute and the ability to learn constantly at a much faster rate and we humans simply have no chance in the battle between AI and us former poker champions of planet earth.