The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
University of Alberta As I noted in my checkers piece last week, computer scientist Jonathan Schaeffer is currently pitting his poker playing program Polaris against ptoo--I mean, two--top human card wranglers, Phil "Unabomber" Laak (above) and Ali Eslami. For a few more hours you can still get live updates
(*) of the match, which consists of four 500-hand rounds of Texas hold 'em.
*Note: Because the link to the live updates has the word "poker" in it, our blog won't let me link to it. (Talk about man v. machine.) No luck with Tiny URL either, so just click here: http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~games/poker/man-machine/
Polaris drew one round yesterday and won the second. As of 2:16 Pacific time, after 275 hands in the penultimate round, Laak was up but we don't yet know the details for Eslami. (To minimize the effect of chance, Eslami gets the cards Polaris drew against Laak, so the Eslami-Polaris game occurs in private.)
The fourth and final round is schedule to begin at 6pm Pacific.
I asked Schaeffer last week by email if he thought this match would settle the superiority of man v. machine at poker. He said no: "Humans are probably better than computers, and the match next week is likely to show it. So... we will need a match next year (and the year after that...) until the result becomes completely clear."
We'll see what he says if Polaris keeps up this level of play.
Background: "Pro players face
computer with poker face,"* USA TODAY
*Same deal as above: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2007-07-22-poker-robot-pros_N.htm
Update: Humans win! Take that, Skynet.