Inside the 20-Year Quest to Build Computers That Play Poker

But both the people building commercial bots and those trying to combat them watch the academic work closely.

“Of course a lot of gambling people are worried that it may kill internet gambling for money, because people are worried that bots are going to be so good that they’re going to be had,” said Sandholm.

.. PokerStars, which is owned by the Canadian gaming company Amaya, employs 70 people to combat this kind of fraud. Employees call players and ask them to describe their strategies on certain hands. The company has also sent e-mails to players requiring them to make videos in which users rotate the camera 360 degrees to show their surroundings, then play for over an hour with their hands and keyboards fully visible.

.. To solve checkers, Schaeffer had used a method that essentially attempted to calculate the best move in any relevant situation, without considering what had happened up to that point. But it didn’t make sense to think about each move as an isolated problem in a game like poker, where luck is involved and not everyone has access to all the relevant information.

.. A Nash equilibrium isn’t a single ideal style of play. The key to an equilibrium strategy in poker is to play the strongest potential hands while remaining unpredictable. “When you bet your strong hands, there needs to be some doubt,”

.. Bowling said his research papers are popular on message boards for people building bots. “There’s this whole separate group of people reading these papers and trying to understand them,” he said.

.. Les said he’s trying to figure out how to adapt some of Libratus’s irregular betting behavior to his own game. It’s hard. “We just simply do not have the mental capacity to do it,” he said.

.. Head-to-head matches against professionals are one thing. But there’s no clear path to turn Libratus and DeepStack into players that could be confident of beating a group of flawed humans. That’s because the equilibrium strategy that the AIs use fall apart in multiplayer games, when the point isn’t to play perfectly but to identify and exploit the shortcomings in other people’s games.