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Humans Take Down Poker Playing Computer

The computer software was under development for over 16 years at the University of Alberta in Canada. However, 16 years weren’t enough. Researchers wanted to put their new baby to the test and called two of the most famous poker players in the world – Phil Laak and Ali Esmali. The two professional players said that they were in it “for the research and not for the money”, but as all poker players – they came to win. The computer managed to win in the first round, but Laak and Esmali had the upper hand (or poker-hand) when the last round was over. This is the first time in history when a computer is facing humans in poker. We are used of seeing people playing virtual poker at cyber casinos, but this one is a true first.

Both Laak and Esmali were handed $20,000 for their efforts and the researchers from the University of Alberta went back to their lab for further testing. Although, the “Polaris” system lost, researchers have learned much from this try. This is the first time ever that any computer software actually defeated human beings. The end result might be in favor of the humans, but the computer did one the first round. Both players reported that beating the machine was especially difficult and that high concentration was needed.

Poker is considered to be a harder game for computers to play, rather than chess or other games of skill. Poker is both a game of skill and luck and it is hard for a computer to understand the subtleties of the game. At times, poker players have to bluff and pretend that they have different cards than they actually do. A computer doesn’t know how to read into such situations and that is why poker playing is a growing field in Computer Science.

OCA News Editor

With a background in game development spanning 8 years, Sam Peterson is OCA’s leading authority in the world of online gaming. His focuses include new releases and gaming providers.