Two years after the first ‘Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence’ poker match, Carnegie Mellon University is running it back. Jason Les, Dong Kim, Daniel McAulay and Jimmy Chou, four of the world’s top Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em players on the planet, will face off against CMU’s latest computer program, Libratus. Les and Kim defeated ‘Claudico’, CMU’s first computer program, in 2015 and will return for seconds this week.
CMU is hoping to have better success than in 2015, when ‘Claudico’ lost 9 big blinds per 100 hands, over an 80,000 hand sample. The result was considered a “statistical tie” by the university but Doug Polk, who was involved in that first ‘Brains vs. AI’ battle and was the world’s #1 ranked heads-up player at the time, shared his thoughts about that claim on YouTube last week.
“Statistical tie” or a win for the humans aside, CMU has been on the forefront of AI development over the last few decades. The university was involved in the Deep Blue chess-playing computer, that played Garry Kasparov in 1996, eventually becoming the first computer system to ever defeat a reigning world champion. CMU also had ties to Watson, a question answering computer system that defeated Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings on Jeopardy!.
“Since the earliest days of AI research, beating top human players has been a powerful measure of progress in the field,” Tuomas Sandholm, a professor of computer science at CMU, said through a press release last week. He added, “Poker poses a far more difficult challenge than these games, as it requires a machine to make extremely complicated decisions based on incomplete information while contending with bluffs, slow play and other ploys.”
CMU is hoping Libratus is capable of making those complicated decisions. The new AI was built from scratch and encompasses new ideas. It is also being built with far more computation than any previous pokerbot, according to Sandholm. The four pros are eagerly awaiting the challenge that the new AI will present.
“I’m very excited to see what this latest AI is like,” said Les, pictured above, in that same CMU press release. “Knowing the resources and ideas that Dr. Sandholm and his team have had available to them in the 20 months since the first contest, I assume this AI will be even more challenging.”
Les and his teammates don’t have to wait very long to see what Libratus is capable of. The “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” 20-day contest begins January 11 at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and will feature 120,000 hands of heads-up poker. The action will be streamed live on Twitch and updates can be found on both the Rivers Casino and CMU School of Computer Science Twitter pages.