AI wins $290,000 in Chinese poker competition

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Poker gameImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A team of six human players were beaten by the artificial intelligence system

An artificial intelligence program has beaten a team of six poker players at a series of exhibition matches in China.

The AI system, called Lengpudashi, won a landslide victory and $290,000 (£230,000) in the five-day competition.

It is the second time this year that an AI program has beaten competitive poker players.

An earlier version of the program, known as Libratus, beat four of the world's best poker pros during a 20-day game in January.

The AI systems were the work of Tuomas Sandholm, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the US, and PhD student Noam Brown.

The prize money will go to Strategic Machine, a firm founded by the duo.

The human team up against Lengpudashi was led by Yue Du, an amateur poker player who won the World Series of Poker $5,000 buy-in, no-limit, Texas Hold'em category last year.

Mr Du's "Team Dragon" consisted of engineers, computer scientists and investors who attempted to use game theory and their knowledge of machine intelligence to anticipate and counter Lengpudashi's play.

'Imperfect information'

Unlike chess and Go, in which all the playable pieces are visible on the board, poker is what computer scientists call an "imperfect information game".

This means relying on complicated betting strategies and a player's ability to bluff, or spot when opponents are bluffing.

"People think that bluffing is very human," Mr Brown told Bloomberg, "It turns out that's not true."

"A computer can learn from experience that if it has a weak hand and it bluffs, it can make more money."

Like the poker pro-beating Libratus AI program before it, Lengpudashi was run on a supercomputer at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Researchers commonly use matches like these to hone an AI program's reasoning skills and strategic decision making.

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