Feeds

Hydra of Texas hold 'em humbled

Man beats machine in poker face-off

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Supercomputers may be able to outdo grand masters in strategy games like chess but when it comes to the low cunning and judgment required in games like poker mankind still has the upper hand. Human Phil Laak this week beat PokerProbot, the Hydra of Texas hold 'em, in a face-off at Binion's Gambling Hall, Las Vegas.

Laak, 33, also outsmarted three of the card-playing programs PokerProbot defeated to win the World Poker Robot Championship, an earlier three-day $100,000 competition to find the world's best poker-playing algorithm. Supported by a cheering crowd, Laak bettered PokerProbot's pair of kings with a pair of aces in a key hand and went on to defeat his silicon-powered opponent in the last of 300 hands in a three-hour exhibition match, The Los Angeles Times reports.

PokerProbot was developed by Hilton Givens, 39 - an Indiana car salesman, programmer and sometime poker player - who lost a $100 side bet after Laak outsmarted his algorithm. The end of the encounter left Laak, who also hosts a poker show on cable TV and dates actress Jennifer Tilly, relieved rather than elated. Other card players reckon its only a matter of time before computers undo humans in games of trickery and deceit like poker.

"In three to five years, they're going to win," said Kenneth "The Clone" Jones, a professional poker player and occasional computer programmer.

Casinos bar technological aids but Poker programs are widely suspected of being surrupticiously used in online poker games, which are growing in popularity.

"It [PokerProbot] would for sure make money online," Laak (who's known as "the Unabomber" for his habit of hiding emotions behind sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt). In simpler versions of Texas hold 'em with set betting limits "bots are better than the average person," Laak told the Los Angeles Times. He added that anyone clever enough to program a poker program that can beat a human is smart enough to create a pokerbot that would evade easy detection. ®

Related stories

Poker site cuts IPO price
Online poker firm set to float
WTO rules in online gambling dispute
Women warm to online betting
Isle of Man welcomes US online punters
Punters warm to online poker
Silicon beats carbon in chess battle
Puny human takes on chess-playing supercomputer

Related links

Don't bet against the poker 'robots', Los Angeles Times (registration required)

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.