Lion of the Blogosphere

Pokerbots now play poker better than the best humans

Article here.

They used to say that poker required special human thinking that a computer couldn’t replicate, but that has been proven false. They also used to say the same thing about go, but today the best go computer is better than any human player.

Does this mean the beginning of the end of online poker, as bots take over the game?

It’s still hard to say when there will be practical AI, like a robot that can cook, clean, take out the trash, and be just as useful as a human domestic servant but without a salary.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 13, 2017 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Robots

53 Responses

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  1. This is interesting because the anti fragile author is saying that reducing anything to a game is a simplification that will weaken your approach to life. Ludic phallacy.


    January 13, 2017 at 6:03 pm

  2. Robot strip poker would be no fun at all.



    January 13, 2017 at 8:31 pm

  3. Uh-oh, this is how robots will take over the world. First they’ll win a bunch of money playing online poker and then they’ll buy military-style assault rifles and kill us all, thanks to America’s lax gun laws.

    These robots are getting uppity — time to unplug them.


    January 13, 2017 at 8:58 pm

  4. Not buying it.

    Most importantly heads up isn’t the game.

    Secondly, they didn’t play against any ranked poker players. Part of the game is detecting patterns.

    Lion of the Turambar

    January 13, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    • They’re about where software was with Go five years ago.


      January 14, 2017 at 12:21 am

  5. The paper is accessible and interesting. The general theme seems to be making the software quickly arrive at gut-feel guesses about the future in much the same way a human does.

    It’s not like the brute force solver techniques of old.


    January 13, 2017 at 9:10 pm

  6. Lately I’ve been casually asking people about an AI future. It seems that low level, run-of-the-mill people welcome any relief robots and such can offer. People who have some expertise in their field are a little more worried about personal obsolescence.


    January 13, 2017 at 9:15 pm

  7. The real question is, what if the robots become so intelligent that they become SWPLs and care more about having self-actualizing careers than prole jobs like doing domestic tasks for humans?


    January 13, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    • bots that spam the comment section on this blog more frequently than the live-breathing, basement residents?


      January 14, 2017 at 11:39 am

  8. It has been known for many years that heads up poker can be optimized using game theory. However, generalizing game theory to multiple player poker games is much more challenging.

    I use to play online poker. I won about $4000 before the government shut down the sites for Americans. Even in those days there were poker bots. There were some extremely good bots in heads up poker even then. I never played on heads up tables. I played full ring (10 players) but towards the end I was doing as much table starting as I could. I would sit down at an empty table and wait for another player or two to arrive. I could play a few hands heads up or 3 way with the these players. Most full ring players are terrible at heads up poker, because it is a totally different game. I don’t think I was very good at it either, but I was way better than most other full ring players on the sites at that time.. A lot of winnings came from that short handed play, even though either the table would fill up after a few hands or the other players would get pissed off about losing so much money and leave the table.

    Poker sites consider poker bots to be illegal and have a security staff trying to find them and ban them. This is a technology war between the bot developers and the poker sites.


    January 14, 2017 at 1:17 am

  9. I feel like people don’t understand how computers think and about their inherent limitations.

    My prediction: 10 years from now, trucks and cars will still need human drivers, even if there is a greater level of partial automation.

    We are nowhere near robots making most of the workforce obsolete. Even those self checkout lines at the grocery store still need humans to install, operate and maintain them. And they still don’t even really work.

    Otis the Sweaty

    January 14, 2017 at 1:25 am

    • If self-service checkout means 50% fewer cash register type jobs, it’s part of a trend towards automation replacing human workers.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      January 14, 2017 at 9:41 am

      • At my local supermarket one attendant handles eight self-service checkouts. The process functions smoothly.

        I can imagine the day when they have robots restocking the shelves at night.


        January 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      • It runs smoothly as long as you don’t buy alcohol. Or don’t get in line with a bunch of old or stupid people. Pretty much it never runs smoothly where I live.


        January 14, 2017 at 8:05 pm

      • >>It runs smoothly as long as you don’t buy alcohol.

        I buy wine all the time. When wine is scanned the attendant is alerted, comes right over and keys in the age approval. When a product’s code isn’t scanning correctly I just look around and wave my hand and she is right over.

        Much better than waiting on a long line, but some people prefer the human attendant, too lazy to make the merest effort themselves.


        January 14, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      • Alcohol is easy to solve, you will have to present an ID and it will match it to your face, than breath in to a tube to check you are not too drunk.


        January 14, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      • I buy alcohol more often than not and then have to wait for the attendant for approval. Usually she is 1) waiting on another customer, 2) discussing something with another employee, or 3) has walked off. It’s pretty frustrating to have to wait 5 minutes for approval. The other issue that slows you down is having multiple large items which the weight table can’t handle; again, you have to wait for the attendant.


        January 15, 2017 at 10:24 am

      • A good question to ponder: Will automation eliminate many value transference careers?


        January 15, 2017 at 10:53 am

      • Yes and no. Low-level value transference jobs will be eliminated, but high-level value transference will remain, and the gap between the top 1% and everyone else will grow even bigger.

        The only solution is communism and redistribution of wealth.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 15, 2017 at 11:47 am

      • The wealthy will not redistribute their wealth and will fight tooth and nail to see it from happening. We’ll see many children inheriting their parents’ money before any redistribution take place. Yes, it’s bleak for those who don’t have any assets.


        January 15, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      • @XVO

        In New Jersey this is a moot point because alcohol is not sold in supermarkets. This is due to the lobbying of the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance. Yes, that is an actual organization.


        January 15, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      • New York: beer is sold at supermarkets while liquor and wine (and only liquor and wine) is only sold at liquor stores.
        Pennsylvania: beer can only be purchased at special beverage warehouses, or at places that also sell prepared food (not supermarkets), while liquor and wine are only sold at state-owned liquor stores.
        DC: Wine (but not liquor) sold at regular supermarkets.
        VA: You could also buy wine a regular supermarkets, but liquor was only sold at state liquor stores (which were dingy and sleazy looking).
        Arizona: Beer and liquor can be purchased anywhere! It was so cool seeing hard liquor at Albertsons. I love the libertarian west.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      • >>A good question to ponder: Will automation eliminate many value transference careers?

        Yes, and not just the lowest paid jobs.

        Over the past thirty years a lot of people on Wall Street made obscene amounts of money (not the stars, but sill making $200K and up) for doing worthless jobs that are being replaced by software. I’m glad. This is a good thing. Let them do some real work. We can hope that this trend will really take it out of the lawyering business too.


        January 15, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      • There would be no Wall St, if automation took over almost every facet of human life. This is a nihilist’s dream, other than the fact, that there could be a nutrient pill that substitutes human food. There will be no need for supermarkets and restaurants.


        January 15, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      • The people in Wall Street making the big money are essentially salesmen. I think we’re a long way off from when robots can sell better than humans. (Except to people like me who hate human salesmen.)

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 15, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      • If automation will render most humans useless in most endeavors, this signifies the end of man.

        It would be more exciting if someone came up with a nutrient-caloric pill where we as humans can swallow, and not worry about eating food and defecating ever again. This will completely change the dynamics of the world as we know it.


        January 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      • self service checkouts are not “automation” – they are a way to get customers to perform store employee labour for free.

        james n.s.w

        January 15, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    • “We are nowhere near robots making most of the workforce obsolete”

      That’s probably true, but (1) it seems likely to happen eventually; and (2) there probably will be very little warning.


      January 14, 2017 at 11:28 am

    • Scanners and EZ Pass have pretty much obsoleted toll collectors.
      It won’t be long before you can run subways without motormen, just like the shuttles at the airport.
      I think that self-checkout is still too primitive – I think in a few years the grocery will just be able to laser scan a whole cart without even removing the items – Then they’ll robotically restock the shelves every night.
      No reason that robots can’t cook your burger and fries to perfection too.
      So lots of opportunities to replace labor with capital as the costs of robotics comes down
      and the cost of labor goes up.

      Nedd Ludd

      January 14, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      • The new physical Amazon Go store opening this year will do just that. Customers grab what they need and leave. The computers will automatically track what you bought and charge your account without having to wait in a checkout line.


        January 15, 2017 at 2:55 am

      • This automation does not solve any real problems. It just transfers them elsewhere. What happens when your Amazon Go store accidentally bills you $6,000 for your $300 order? You don’t find the error until you’re home several hours later? What happens then?

        I like the automated kiosk, but most people still use the human ones, and it’s not because they prefer people. It just that they have more control over the billing process and they have someone to complain to when it goes wrong.

        It’s like arguing that mass-transit reduces traffic. It really doesn’t. it just shifts traffic patterns to loading and unloading passengers.


        January 16, 2017 at 2:01 am

  10. A couple years ago I asked some poker players about the rumor that there are guys who just run bots 24/7 to grind out a living (on the premise that the average bot is better than the average human player). One claimed it was “infrequent at best,” while another cited research that showed bots easily defeat human players one-on-one (which is not so much approximating “gut” feelings as building a hand history). More players probably introduces a lot more complexity (there are two ways to arrange two objects, six ways to arrange three, twenty-four ways to arrange four and so on), so it’s not easy to extrapolate consistently defeating one player to defeating a group (at a rate better than chance).

    Still, the people who argue that it’s impossible to rival the “creative” powers of our meat-brains always seem to find themselves on the losing end of these arguments in the long-run.

    Someone told me about how in Iain Banks’ [i]Culture[/i] series, incomprehensibly intelligent machines keep humans the way we keep pets. And they love their humans. The way you cheer a dog who learns to put its toy away, the machines heap praise on humans who understand scientific theories, write original (albeit primitive) music, and fall in love.


    January 14, 2017 at 2:34 am

  11. From NeoGaf about the Russia stuff: “Trump is in no way invincible. The longer his festering existence is a part of the US government, the more fury is going to build in the populous. He lost the popular vote. 70,000 votes were the difference in the electoral college. If we flat out pretend that non voters don’t exist, he has no mandate regardless of how much people are jumping up and down lying about it.

    The vast majority of the Republicans in office are absolute scum and always act in their best interests. As these allegations pile on more and more, they’ll realize that their careers will be on the line. There will be protests, and if that leads to nothing, riots, and possible civil war. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll eventually destabilize the planet enough to cause other countries to intervene. At some point, their human survival instinct will kick in, and they’ll abandon the Trump ship.”

    Seeing the Left lose their minds is a beautiful thing to watch.

    Otis the Sweaty

    January 14, 2017 at 7:04 am

    • I’m watching America fall like Rome at the Colosseum decks. Your fellow Canadians are the spectators.


      January 14, 2017 at 11:42 am

      • Canada’s population is ~1/10 of America’s. And 75 percent live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. The US owns Canada just like it owns Mexico. If America “falls” then Canada (and Mexico) are both going down with it.


        January 14, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      • Canada doesn’t have cities that are like Newark, Southside Chicago and Detroit. Canada doesn’t have a lot of value transference parasites.


        January 14, 2017 at 11:47 pm

      • @ destructure

        I think the New World in the 21st century is witnessing a modern day version of a few historical events that shook the Ancient Greco-Roman world.

        Canada is our 5th Century Ancient Greece.

        Anglophone Canadians = Athenians
        Québécois = Spartans

        Canada is now experiencing its golden age. It has the most robust middle class and the most educated population in the new world. Yet, despite all of this, a looming Peloponnesian war is on the horizon.

        French Speaking separatists who often come across as militant (they make America’s alt-right and WN look tame) will make another round of noise in the next 2018 election cycle. If Québec will not separate from the rest of Canada in a few years, I expect violence to take place on the streets again, and there will be a stronger backlash against all Anglophones and also Jews. There are other provinces with French speaking areas that will support the separatism/sovereignty of Québec.

        America is our 2nd Century Late Roman Republic, just right before the coming of Jesus.

        America is witnessing an economic collapse, a complete break down of its political system and its institutions. Our elites who are the patricians are either too ineffectual or apathetic towards the tribal instincts of the various groups of American plebians. America is set to crumble like Rome.

        Latin America represents this savage, almost uncontrollable force that is reminiscent of Islam that overtook many of the outlying areas of the Roman Empire in late antiquity. The sheer number of Hispanics that have overwhelmed our Southern States is telling. Spanish speaking Hispanics will become the largest non-Anglo entity to change the demographic and cultural makeup of America.


        January 15, 2017 at 10:25 pm

      • “and also Jews.”

        Why do The Jews come up in a post about pokerbots? Sick and tired of this.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 15, 2017 at 10:44 pm

      • And here’s a reason why America and the English speaking nations suck:

        Look at McGill’s roster of Physics’ students. A long list with a lot of 3rd world types from the orient and mostly men:

        Look at the University of Montréal and I find a page of 2 relatively attractive White female students in Physics with their bios:

        This page would be deemed racist in an Anglophone school.

        Where is the American equivalent of this? Most American White women shun STEM.

        And I was telling Lion, a few racially aware White American students, including women, who want to major in STEM, are trying to enroll themselves in a French Speaking University in Canada.


        January 15, 2017 at 11:50 am

      • And having women in STEM has caused Quebec province to become the world leader in technological innovation?

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 15, 2017 at 11:53 am

      • No, but it’s a cause and a effect why Anglophone Whites complain about their countries turning into cognitive dissonant cesspools.


        January 15, 2017 at 11:57 am

      • Most physics research is a vast dung heap.

        The physics profession pretty much operates on the reputation of the atom bomb. It has gone from a rigorous experimental discipline to one that’s purely mathematical to the point of pointlessness. String theory…dark matter…black holes…multiverses…expanding/contracting universes…Stephen Hawking public intellectualism…all nonsense.

        The type of research that to led to Maxwells’ equations…or to the Michaelson-Morley experiment…or Planck’s discoveries in Black Body radiation…doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just publishing junk papers understood by a dozen people all living high on the hog.


        January 16, 2017 at 2:10 am

      • Given the lack of bilingualism among Anglophones, academia opportunities are limited to only English Speaking Canada, the United States and the UK. Worse, the large contingent of non-whites in the Anglosphere who are now grabbing the pie as much as Whites want to grab it, spells doom for the mere mortals who don’t want to be like Yakov — a few commenters here have said that the problem with America’s college educated is the lack of lucrative fake work with too many people competing for them.


        January 16, 2017 at 11:43 am

      • What’s annoying is Canadians boasting how wonderful it is to be multicultural, and by golly, if Canada can be great multicultural nation, so can other Western nations (however, Asian and many non-white nations should feel free to limit immigration and remain homogenous)! They fail to mention that most immigrants to Canada are well-educated and well-off. They don’t have many poor Africans or Arabs sneaking into their borders like in Europe. It’s easy to brag about the wonders of multiculturalism when you are fortunate enough to have the “right” kind of immigrants


        January 16, 2017 at 4:46 am

      • Much of Canada is cold for most of the year. The wages are also lower and there are less job opportunities.

        Why would educated immigrants live in Canada is a good question?

        America is the only place to make money — but here’s the catch, elites hate seeing Whites beneath them, grab all of it, which means less for them.


        January 16, 2017 at 10:04 am

    • NeoGaf is too toxic for me. Like trying to watch the Democrat Convention last summer. I won’t do it. But I enjoy your periodic updates.

      Andrew E.

      January 14, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    • What the hell is Neogaf that it warrants multiple daily updates.

      Panther of the Blogocube

      January 14, 2017 at 2:13 pm

  12. “It’s still hard to say when there will be practical AI, like a robot that can cook, clean, take out the trash, and be just as useful as a human domestic servant but without a salary.”

    My wild guess would be that they will be made available to industry in ~7 years, marketing to industry is better because one single business can buy thousands of the robots and would be easier to communicate with when bugs are discovered. I’d then say it will be about 15 years before all the bugs are worked out. Have you seen the videos from Boston dynamics?

    Quite advanced, though we must keep in mind they might have left out the parts where the robots mess up.


    January 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm

  13. Many of these robots are around for long time: watermill, windmill, cuckoo clock, music box etc. Why so much paranoia now?

    My Two Cents

    January 15, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    • People are overly brainwashed by sci-fi movies.


      January 16, 2017 at 4:47 am

  14. Frankly, I don’t buy this.

    Any game…Poker, Go, Chess… that has a complete and definable solution set will eventually have a computer beat the best human players. It’s no different than a forklift beating all of the best human power lifters. The forklift’s material strength and hydraulic systems are simply more durable than any biological system.

    What conclusion do you draw from this? That forklifts will replace all of the humans?

    The pokerbots are combining perfect computational calculations with a perfect memory. Human players ascertain the quality of a hand by “reading” other players, from which they discern good positions from “bluffs.” The computer does this computationally. The computer knows what to bid initially based on the quality of its hand, but as the game progresses, it knows what cards are eliminated from the deck, what cards are remaining, and, given it’s own hand, what the probabilities are for it’s own hand being good against the players, for improving it’s own hand, what probable hand of the other player’s are, and the odds of those players improving their hand. IOW, the computer knows, based on the odds and card counting, whether your bluff is real or not and it will beat you almost every time.

    Of course a computer is going to card-count and odds-calculate better than a human…just like a forklift is going to lift cars better than a human.

    I tend to feel that all of this automation stuff is a great con designed to hide some ulterior plan. Again, if these robot jobs are just over the horizon, then why do we need these immigrants?


    January 16, 2017 at 2:26 am

    • Interesting thought experiment:

      An artificial intelligence challenges a human pilot in combat. One of the features of human pilots is that they can only take so many g-forces before the pilot passes out. This is a problem unknown to the AI fighter but the realistic flight sim has to allow “blackouts” to accurately model training for the human pilot.

      Is this a reasonable competition? Are you testing the artificial intelligence itself or are you testing the limits of the airframe?

      This the stuff I think about…when I am not dreaming of all the self-driving cars I am going to take with a fake bitcoin account and a wireless frequency jammer.


      January 16, 2017 at 2:38 am

    • The best human poker players also know what cards are missing and also knew the odds (or had a shorthand way of getting close enough to knowing the odds). However, it was difficult to program the computer to understand human bluffing behavior, but it’s a problem that, as you say, has a computational solution involving odds and pattern recognition.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      January 16, 2017 at 9:02 am

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