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What is Brains vs. AI?

Brains vs. AI is the first time that a computer program has played Heads-up No-limit Texas Hold’em in competition with top human players. Claudico is an artificial intelligence program for playing Heads-up No-limit Texas Hold’em that was developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science by Prof. Tuomas Sandholm. and his Ph.D. students, Sam Ganzfried and Noam Brown In a competition against other computer programs at the most recent Annual Computer Poker Competition, Sandholm’s team's Claudico won decisively.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHOM WILL CLAUDICO BE FACING?

Four of the top 10 Heads-up No-limit Texas Hold’em will be taking on Claudico.

Dong Kim @dongerkim 
Jason Les @heyitscheet
Bjorn Li @bjorn__li 
Doug Polk @DougPolkPoker

HOW WILL THE COMPETITION UNFOLD?

Each of the four pros will play 1,500 hands per day against Claudico over 13 days, with extra hands played on the last day, Thursday, May 7, to achieve a total of 80,000 hands. The pros will play using standard laptop computers. Their laptops will be linked to a computer at Carnegie Mellon University which is running the Claudico program.

Two pros will play on the casino main floor and two will play in an isolation room on the second floor. To reduce the role of luck, the pros in the isolation room will play the opposite hole cards against Claudico from the ones being played by the pros and Claudico on the main floor. The players will rotate periodically between the main floor and isolation room.

HOW LONG WILL THE COMPETITION LAST?

Play is scheduled to begin each day at 11 and end at approximately 10 p.m., with breaks for the humans in between. The pros will take a day off on May 3. There will be a concluding ceremony on the morning of May 8 where the final results will be announced.

HOW WILL A WINNER BE DETERMINED?

The winner will be determined by who – Claudico or the pros – has the most chips. Though the pros will each play one-on-one with Claudico, their chip totals will be combined as if they competed as a team in deciding the winner. Even if a pro beats Claudico one-on-one, that doesn’t mean much in determining whether a computer can outperform a human in a game with as much randomness as poker.

If the final chip totals are very close, it’s possible that Claudico and the pros will reach a statistical tie, in which case the competition will be declared a draw.

HOW DOES CLAUDICO MAKE DECISIONS?

Claudico performs real-time reasoning during a hand. It also improves its strategy during the match by computing continuously on the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Blacklight computer. The research team built Claudico using algorithms that analyzed poker rules to devise a winning strategy. Claudico is not based on the experience of expert human players, so its strategy for playing can differ markedly from seasoned pros.

WHAT HAS CARNEGIE MELLON ACCOMPLISHED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF CLAUDICO?

Carnegie Mellon is a leading center in artificial intelligence research, creating computer chess programs that led to the Deep Blue program that defeated Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, aiding in the development of Watson, which defeated Jeopardy! champions in 2011, and pioneering breakthroughs in such areas as computer vision, automated translation, and market design. The algorithms that created Claudico are not specific to poker, and they have future applications in medicine, auctions, negotiation, cybersecurity and more.

The Players

(From left to right, Dong Kim, Jason Les, Bjorn Li and Doug Polk)

Brains vs. AI poker players