Posts Tagged ‘Polaris poker bot’

Poker Bots: Come With Me if You Want to Live

by , Feb 20, 2011 | 7:32 am

tim chilcote poker bots

Tim Chilcote


OP-ED

Machines have always been the enemy of man, at least in movies and on television, yet somehow we never see our A.I. overlords coming until it’s too late.

Case in point, in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Doctor Miles Bennett Dyson spends a lifetime developing artificial intelligence as part of the Skynet project, only to discover that his work is more suitable for evil than for good – the price? His life. You remember the scene: Dyson detonates his own lab, and in doing so blows himself up, sacrificing himself to save us from an army of Schwarzeneggers.

With the computer Watson now a winning contestant on Jeopardy!, the man v. machine debate has been rekindled, and it would seem that we’re in danger again, if not for our lives (yet), then for pride. In a recent Slate article, “Jeopardy, Schmeopardy: Why IBM’s next target should be a machine that plays poker“, author Chris Wilson asks whether the next logical progression from Jeopardy!’s Watson is a poker playing robot, and suggests that robots have a lot to teach us about poker, and might even be — gasp! — better.

Bots sound dangerous, and it would be easy to infer that their skill is only going to grow and that their dominance of the poker world is a forgone conclusion.

Poker bots have been hot topic in online poker for years. The fervor usually stems from a fear of the unknown. Gambling robots reached a fever pitch in 2007 when Phil Laak and Ali Eslami played against the Polaris poker bot. At the time I asked myself the obvious question – is Polaris the next terminator, and if not, then what’s the point of this experiment and why should I care? I sat down that summer with computer-poker researcher Darse Billings of the University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group to have him explain how Polaris actually worked and to see what he thought was the point of his poker robot experiment, just to put my mind at ease.

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