Human Poker Pros win Man VS Machine Challenge against AI Poker Bot Claudico

Two weeks ago, an epic challenge began in the poker room of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Rivers Casino. The most advanced AI poker bot of our time, Claudico, began an 80,000-hands heads-up duel with four of the world’s leading poker pros. The action finally came to an end on Friday, where three of the four human challengers came out on top.

Esteemed poker players Jason Les, Bjorn Li, Dong Kim and Doug Polk agreed to take on the renowned AI poker bot, created by a team of developers at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. There was no cost for the humans to participate, but the winner(s) would share in a $100,000 prize purse generously donated by Rivers Casino and Microsoft Research.

The heads-up challenge would see each player partake in 1,500 hands of No Limit Holdem every day against the AI poker bot, Claudico. After two weeks, and 20,000 hands per player, the chip counts would be tallied to determine who/what possessed superior intelligence; man or machine?

The final chip count came in at $732,713 in favor of the human poker pros over the AI poker bot. However, not all of them fared so well. Bjorn Li retained the highest lead over Claudico, ending with $529,033 more than the computer poker program. Doug Polk was up $213,671, while Dong Kim bested the AI poker bot by $70,491. Claudico did manage to prevail over Jason Les by $80,482.

CMU Team calls outcome a Technical Tie

Tuomas Sandholm, lead developer of AI poker bot ClaudicoAll told, the humans racked up a $732,713 victory (in chips, not real money), but according to CMU Professor Tuomas Sandholm, who led the team of developers in the creation of Claudico, the result was technically a tie.

Sandholm said the $732,713 lead by the human poker pros may sound like a large amount, but based on the full amount of chips in play–$170 million worth—the humans’ lead isn’t large enough to define as a genuine win.

In reality, the ‘winnings’ amounted to less than half a percent of the total amount of chips in play; 0.431% to be exact. As such, Sandholm said it’s impossible to say the humans clearly defeated the AI poker bot.

“We knew Claudico was the strongest computer poker program in the world, but we had no idea before this competition how it would fare against four Top 10 poker players,” said Sandholm when the two-week match came to an end. “It would have been no shame for Claudico to lose to a set of such talented pros, so even pulling off a statistical tie with them is a tremendous achievement.”

Technical tie or not, Les, Li, Kim and Polk will each share in the $100k prize purse, earning $25,000 a piece for their time and effort in the epic Man VS Machine battle against the worthy, AI opponent, Claudico.

How Well did the AI Poker Bot Perform?

As for how well Claudico performed against its homo-sapien opponents, Doug “WGCRider” Polk had a few comments on the issue. Polk commended the AI poker bot for its undeniable talent, but said it wasn’t a consistently great player.

“There are spots where it plays well and others where I just don’t understand it,” explained Polk. He said some of the wagers placed by Claudico simply didn’t make sense. Situations where a human might place a bet equal to 50% or 75% of the pot, Polk noted the AI poker bot betting anywhere from just 10% to a staggering 1,000%.

“Betting $19,000 to win a $700 pot just isn’t something that a person would do,” critiqued Polk.

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