Meet Cepheus, The Perfect Poker-Playing Algorithm
Do you think you’re decent enough at playing poker? Doesn’t matter what you believe, Cepheus will wipe the floor or at least that’s what scientists claim. A group of computer scientists have produced poker-playing software which they claim is unbeatable, no matter how much effort we puny humans put into it. These programmers have also developed an online website where you can go against Cepheus.
Developed by the Computer Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta, Cepheus has essentially solved a specific version of Texas hold ’em. Here the term “solved” means that the algorithm is capable of knowing all possible combinations of variables in a game of heads-up limit hold ’em.
In this particular variant, there are only two players with limited bet sizes and raises, yet still this leaves about 3.16 × 1017 possible states.
These astonishing results are acquired by endless practice as Cepheus was put to play billions and billions of hands against its counterpart without any human training. All that was provided to Cepheus were rules of the game. Speaking of this, head of the research group, Michael Bowling stated that Cepheus also holds the ability to bluff:
We define a game to be essentially solved if a lifetime of play is unable to statistically differentiate it from being solved at 95 per cent confidence. Imagine someone playing 200 hands of poker an hour for 12 hours a day without missing a day for 70 years.
Poker has been a challenge problem for artificial intelligence going back over 40 years, and until now, heads-up limit Texas hold ‘em poker was unsolved.
The creators have also stated that it is very much possible to beat Cepheus due the element of chance present in each game of poker. In addition to this, Cepheus also has a little margin to err, but it is so small that it is almost negligible to human intelligence. Following the overwhelming response from competitors, the online website went down, but it is up and running now.
So do you think you have any chance of beating the algorithm that has played more poker than all the games played by the human race from the beginning of time?