Carnegie Mellon University researchers have been working on a computer system to outwit the best poker players. The computer is named Claudico and it is expected to win in a game of Hold’em against the best professional poker players of the industry. ¬†Claudico is set up at Rivers Casino in Pittsbugh, PA for a two week tournament. The computer will play against four professional players in an 80,000 hand game of Heads-up-no-limit Texas Hold’em. No money is being bet in the game; however, there is a prize purse of $100,000 that was underwritten by Rivers Casino and Microsoft Research.

The players will be on laptop computers during the two week tournament. Tuomas Sandholm, a CMU computer science professor, along with researchers Noam Brown and Sam Ganzfried will be waiting to see the outcome. They are also betting on a much larger prize. They want to show the world that artificial intelligence exists.

To help Claudico work at the casino they will use strategic decision making power from the Pittsburgh Supercomputering Center’s Black Light computer. The hope is that they will make a new benchmark with regards to AI.

In a statement Sandholm said, “the ability of computers to beat humans in poker has been a goal for more than 10 years.” He started the research in 2004.

He also stated poker is a real challenge and the best way to test AI because of the many variables and unknowns. Decisions from the computer will need to be made without all the information, so it is a question as to whether the computer can mimic intelligence. The possibility of AI to help other areas of research is also high. Medicine, cyber-security, and arms negotiations could be helped with the research Sandholm and his team is conducting. It is the reason National Science Foundation underwrote their research.

One of the challengers is going to be Jason Les. He is a professional poker player who has a computer science degree. He stated that he looks forward to the challenge to see if his two worlds can “collapse together.” Les believes the computer might have an advantage in the beginning, but then players will be able to adjust and win.

Sandholm disagrees, feeling players will be at an advantage first, but then the computer will be able to read the player and adjust for the win. The competition started at 11am Friday in Rivers Casino’s Levels Lounge.

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