Looks like there’s a new sheriff in town. A breakthrough in artificial intelligence has allowed a computer to learn the game of Texas Hold ’em poker and make the perfect move every time. Thanks to an algorithm called Cepheus, the computer will work through every potential play and choose the best move against any opponent.
Cepheus is the brainchild of a number of Canadian researchers.
“We have a strategy that can guarantee a player won’t lose,” Michael Bowling, a computer scientist from the University of Alberta, told Bloomberg on Thursday. “It’s going to be a break-even game. It’s only when someone makes a mistake that they could end up losing.”
The researchers are hoping professional and avid poker players will volunteer to test the program by challenging Cepheus in the poker game online. He believes this will actually leave poker connoisseurs rethinking their strategies.
“Not only did we prove some things that most people already believe, like the dealer holds a substantial advantage, we got some answers where the poker community isn’t settled yet,” Bowling said.
Bowling and his colleagues say they “solved” the game, establishing a successful way to play that cannot lose. This is the first time scientists have “solved” a competitive game played by humans.
Cepheus works with only the simplest form of the card game, Heads-up Limit Hold-em, where two players square off and bets and raises are limited. In this version, there are more than 10,000 billion decisions that can be made, with the strategy grid of the program having more than 10 terabytes of data. Bowling told Bloomberg that the English version of online encyclopedia Wikipedia is 1,000 times smaller.
“We are hoping some poker enthusiasts will comb through it and create some insights,” Bowling added. “We already have mathematical proof that in the long run you won’t be winning, but it can be enlightening to know that you are playing against the world’s best poker player.”