Gambling, games, challenges. Imperfect realities trying to be tamed by tenacious players. Poker is one of them. It is clearly one of the most important games in the business because the unknown character of its development makes those involved feel at least fascinated. But what if there was a computer that solved the mystery and brought to life the most stunning poker algorithm ever created? Texas hold’em has been solved. A newly created algorithm promises the guarantee of winning.
It’s called Cepheus and it has played billions of hands against itself, and for the amusement of the observers, it can also bluff. The only condition for Cepheus is the number of players: only two can be involved. Also, there is a fixed number of bet sizes and raises. However, the number of states is still atrocious: 3.16 × 1017.
The creator of the algorithm is a team from the University of Alberta. Study author and computer scientist Michael Bowling states that:
“Even if you played 60 million hands of poker for 70 years, 12 hours a day, and never made any mistakes, you still wouldn’t be able to say with statistical confidence you were better than this program.”
Never losing money in a game would be the perfect solution, but it is not guaranteed by Bowling and his colleagues. The one thing that they can be sure of is that Cepheus can stay ahead as long as a human can live. To prove it, they started up a website where anyone can play againt Cepheus. Unfortunately, there were so many people wanting to try it out, that the site was off and on and off again so many times, and there were problems with the connection.
Looking back, there have been several programs that became unbeatable opponents in games like chess and Connect Four, but the difference between those two and poker is that they are perfect-information games: you can see everything that happens in the game when you are playing and you want to make a move. A chess board is as clear as the sky, there is nothing hidden and abstract about it. On the contrary, poker is just pure randomness at its best.
The study and all known details of Cepheus were published online on Thursday, in the journal Science.
Image Source: Poker Latino