A showdown pitting human brains against artificial intelligence is to go ahead this evening when two professional poker players take on a computer in the world's first such man-machine challenge.
Phil Laak and Ali Eslami will play Polaris, the most sophisticated poker-playing program yet written, the product of years of research and refinement by a team of artificial intelligence experts at the University of Alberta in Canada.
The challenge will play out over two days and 500 hands of Texas hold 'em at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Vancouver, with the players gambling for a total prize pot of $50,000.
The poker challenge has been organised by the American Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence as part of its annual meeting. The two poker players will play against Polaris simultaneously in adjoining rooms.
To avoid either side later blaming a loss on bad cards, the games are designed to eliminate the influence of luck. Whatever cards are dealt to Mr Laak will automatically be dealt to the computer playing Mr Eslami and vice-versa.
Polaris has been written to learn its opponent's playing strategy and identify its weaknesses. "The program knows it has to bluff. In poker, if you don't bluff you're playing a bad game, and if you bluff too much, you're playing a bad game," Dr Schaeffer said.
The First Man-Machine Poker Championship
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