AI Case Study

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University develop AI system that beats world's four best players in Poker

Professor of computer science, Tuomas Sandholm and a Ph.D. student, Noam Brown, at Carnegie Mellon University developed an AI system that can play Poker. Libratus managed to defeat four of the world's best players in Heads-up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em during the “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” competition at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

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Project Overview

"Libratus, an artificial intelligence developed by Carnegie Mellon University, made history by defeating four of the world’s best professional poker players in a marathon 20-day poker competition, called “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence: Upping the Ante” at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

Once the last of 120,000 hands of Heads-up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em were played on Jan. 30, Libratus led the pros by a collective $1,766,250 in chips. The developers of Libratus — Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science, and Noam Brown, a Ph.D. student in computer science — said the sizable victory is statistically significant and not simply a matter of luck.

“The best AI’s ability to do strategic reasoning with imperfect information has now surpassed that of the best humans,” Sandholm said.


This new milestone in artificial intelligence has implications for any realm in which information is incomplete and opponents sow misinformation, said Frank Pfenning, head of the Computer Science Department in CMU’s School of Computer Science. Business negotiation, military strategy, cybersecurity and medical treatment planning could all benefit from automated decision-making using a Libratus-like AI.

“The computer can’t win at poker if it can’t bluff,” Pfenning said. “Developing an AI that can do that successfully is a tremendous step forward scientifically and has numerous applications. Imagine that your smartphone will someday be able to negotiate the best price on a new car for you. That’s just the beginning.”

Sandholm also said that Libratus’ end-game strategy, which was computed live with the Bridges computer for each hand, was a major advance.

“The end-game solver has a perfect analysis of the cards,” he said.
It was able to update its strategy for each hand in a way that ensured any late changes would only improve the strategy. Over the course of the competition, the pros responded by making more aggressive moves early in the hand, no doubt to avoid playing in the deep waters of the endgame where the AI had an advantage, he added.

Reported Results

The AI system defeated four of the world’s best professional poker

Technology

Function

Background

"Head’s-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em is an exceedingly complex game, with 10160 (the number 1 followed by 160 zeroes) information sets — each set being characterized by the path of play in the hand as perceived by the player whose turn it is. That’s vastly more information sets than the number of atoms in the universe.


The AI must make decisions without knowing all of the cards in play, while trying to sniff out bluffing by its opponent. As “no-limit” suggests, players may bet or raise any amount up to all of their chips.

Benefits

Data