Libratus A.I. Bests Top Poker Players

Libratus, an artificial intelligence created by Carnegie Mellon University competed in a 20-day marathon of Heads-up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em versus the best professional poker players…and won. Libratus was developed by Tuomas Sandholm, professor of Computer Science, and Noam Brown, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science.

The event, called “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” was hosted at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Libratus faced off against the top pros at poker: Dong Kim, Jimmy Chou, Daniel McAulay and Jason Les over 120,000 hands of Texas Hold’em poker which concluded on January 31, 2017, crowning the AI as the winner with more than $1.7 million in chips.

Sandholm had this to say about Libratus winning the event: “The best AI’s ability to do strategic reasoning with imperfect information has now surpassed that of the best humans.”

So how did Libratus work? Turns out it was powered by the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Bridges computer where the AI analyzed the games at the end of each day and used a meta-algorithm to patch holes in its own strategies for improvement in future games. The Bridges computer has a total speed of 1.38 Petaflops and 274 Terabytes of RAM which allowed Libratus to face-off against the pros at the same time. Sandholm said that previous researchers of AI would rely on “…Algorithms that try to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses” compared to using the AI to better its own play. In addition, Libratus was able to calculate end-game strategy live during each hand (using the power of the PSC Bridges computer) which allowed an end-game strategy to be updated live versus each player at the same time, meaning the AI got better with each passing hand.

“The computer can’t win at poker if it can’t bluff. Developing an AI that can do that successfully is a tremendous step forward scientifically and has numerous applications,” said Frank Pfenning. He is the head of the Computer Science Department in CMU’s School of Computer Science.

“Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” event was hosted in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Rivers Casino and Carnegie Mellon University with a slew of other sponsors for the event.

“This new milestone in artificial intelligence has implications for any realm in which information is incomplete and opponents sow misinformation. Business negotiation, military strategy, cybersecurity and medical treatment planning could all benefit from automated decision-making using a Libratus-like AI,” said Pfenning.

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