Phil Laak (one of the best) didn't start playing poker seriously until he was 25. Contrast this with chess, where if you didn't start studying by the age of ten for hours every day, you don't have a chance at being the best.
1. Phil Laak is not one of the best poker players. Not even top 100. The fact that you think he is shows how little you know about poker. Also, I don't even know who Ali Esmali is.
2. The game (which I think was No Limit Hold'em) played was the simplest form of poker for a machine. Even if one became better at this than humans (which probably is possible in the not too distant future) it will be far from beating a 2-7 Triple Draw player.
3. Figuring out odds is trivial, but virtually useless. Figuring out odds as well as a human, who has the ability to put his opponent on a range of holdings, is not.
4. No poker bot ever made could come anywhere close to me in an 8 man, limit hold'em match, and there are far better players than me.
5. I don't know if chess has had more man hours dedicated to it. It probably has. But Polaris has been worked on for 26 years. That's certainly not insignificant. Phil Laak has probably been playing for 10 or so.
6. I'm a mediocre programmer at best but could easily write a chess program that, with infinite processing power, would be perfect. (I'm not sure if it would be unbeatable, as it is possible that with perfect play one side will always win.) I could not do that with poker.
7. Chess may be harder to learn for a human (though even there I'm not sure) but that doesn't mean it is also harder for a machine. Calculating the 18th power of 2 is harder for a human than picking out an apple from a group of pictures. Not the same for my PC.
Yeah, IF you had infinite processing power, it would be a nearly trivial exhaustive search program. IF I had a way to read my opponents emotions, etc like humans can, then I could write a fairly trivial program to do well at poker. But those are two very big "IF"s.
The problem is the two games are very different. Chess is a game of perfect information, where both players know the entire state of the game. Poker is not, plus it has an element of chance.
You can't really compare the two.
This, I think, is what mattmaroon is getting at.
You can't say that A is easier than B for humans just because a computer can do A well but not B. For example, computers are excellent at doing large calculations very fast but terrible at recognizing objects in a scene visually, but humans are the exact opposite.
I'll still try. Both games have a philosophical and a computational side. The chess philosopher could ask questions such as
"everyone knows that dominating the centre is an advantage, but WHY EXACTLY is that the case"
But even if he understands this better than others, it won't help him that much because chess games are decided on the computational side. This is why you have to start at an early age in order to become a great chess player. And it suits computers.
Poker's computational side includes, for example, odds (trivial) and ICM. In most forms of poker, though, it is far outweighed by the philosophical side, at least as of today. The poker philosopher could ask questions such as
"everyone knows that being in position is an advantage, but WHY EXACTLY is that the case"
If he's willing to work hard on his understanding of the game, he might, in theory, learn the rules at any age and become the world's best poker player in just a few years. Getting direct monetary value from one's philosophical insights is an attractive proposition. Unfortunately there are big psychological drawbacks, which Matt Maroon describes so well.
1. Subjective, with a nice insult thrown in there.
2. Do you really think the simplest form of poker for a bot would be a No Limit game?
3. Are you implying poker bots don't take opponents possible hands into account? wrong
5. No reason to cast doubt, chess has had much more effort put into it. Polaris has been in the works for 17 years, not 26. Compared to over 50 years for chess engines.
6. I don't think writing any chess engine is easy, but your main point, yes chess is a finite game. A computer isn't expected to win every time at rock, paper, scissors, so why poker? Like blackjack, there is a certain amount of available information, and poker bots can make the best play off that.
7. Amateurs with 1 year of poker under their belt win a WSOP bracelet.
3. They may, but they do a very poor job of it.
6. A computer can easily tie at roshambo, and the roshambot beats most humans in the long run. And poker is much different and far more complex than blackjack. The two arent comparable at all.
7. Irrelevant. I never contended that a bot couldn't win a tournament. They probably have. That's not really a good measure of ability.
But I will still reiterate these points:
1. A great deal more effort has gone into computer chess than computer poker. When that amount of effort is put into computer poker, computers will be better than humans at poker.
2. The argument can be made that poker is harder or more complex than chess for computers, but the opposite is definitely true of humans today. If you don't study chess hard from the age of ten and then dedicate your life to it starting in your teens, you can't be the best. The amount of study (not playing) is probably an order of magnitude difference. In practice this means that any great chess player could switch to poker, study hard, play hard, and have a chance at making it, but no great poker players could switch to chess.
Fundamentally, sports in which real money is gambled will probably never reach the competitive level of play of non-gambling sports. Chess has a rating system and is setup so that the players of similar calibar play each other. Contrast this with poker where professionals are always actively seeking to play against worse players (with higher bank rolls).
Poker is far more competitive than chess. Show me a chess game that runs every night with buy-ins in the hundreds of thousands.
But, although almost no effort has been put into poker bots, they're already pretty damn close:
If poker bots analyzed a massive database of how pros play like humans or the chess bots do then I'm certain that the poker bots would blow you away.
> No poker bot ever made could come anywhere close to me in...
You'll be seeing this quote again:)
That's dumb. They'd win 5x the money if they were great.
>You'll be seeing this quote again:)
I meant made yet, maybe I should have specified. I've no doubt that computers will one day overtake humans. It just is nowhere near having happened yet.
There is a nice proof in game theory that any turn based game with 2 players, limited number of board positions, and finite max length is subject to the creation of the perfect game book - basically a simple table of board positions and the ultimate correct decision for every board position. using it you are guaranteed to win/draw optimally (depends on first mover advantage) against any player.
You just can't create a "big book of poker" it doesn't meet the requirements.
PS: Go is also subject to this treatment despite being several orders of magnitude more complex than chess, it is still a finite 2 player turn based game.
The long apprenticeship in chess doesn't mean chess is inherently tougher for computers than poker. It means for humans, chess is a difficult game that requires a lot of training. Humans would take a long time to memorize and incorporate book knowledge. Computers could suck in that knowledge in no time.
Babies acquire visual recognition and speech in a smaller time period than adults go from novice to grand masters in chess. So it depends on what you are learning, not just the time it takes.
It's also interesting that the computer vs human poker contest tried to remove "luck":
"The man vs. machine poker contest was designed to eliminate the luck factor by dealing the same cards in each hand, but in reverse. So in one hand, Laak might get lucky with two aces, but in the other room Esmali would be unlucky as the computer was dealt two aces. To finalize a winner, officials added the two human scores and two computer scores separately, and the highest number won."
Poker is not finite, at least the wagering part of it, the interaction between the players. Even in the exact same situation as defined by the mechanics of the round, the correct answer might be different, depending on a host of psychological factors.
My argument is not that EVERY game with chance + bluffing is more complex for a computer than chess. It's that poker is a very different beast than chess, and it makes no sense to argue complexity based on amount of required human training. Otherwise, we'd have computers with visual perception before chess skills.
chess computers are better than people because chess computers brute force the problem, they can think millions of moves in advance and plan out every possible game path, a human can only think several moves in advance, so huge advantage for the computer.
in poker, there are only a handful of cards in play, only a few decision spots per hand, a pro poker player could probably program a computer to be as good as he is by giving it the rules which he plays by, but it is unlikely a computer will ever surpass the talent of the best players imo
As other's have stated in this thread chess is particularly well suited to be played well by a computer program, but that does not make it trivial.
I'd never say chess is trivial, it's just far less complex than poker.
No, they won't. The universe isn't big enough for a computer that would play brute force in a reasonable amount of time.
> It seems to me that it is an interesting question that combines elements of computation, AI, and psychology.
> One can see instant practical results by playing your bot for real money.
> Poker is a fun game. :)
Any answers would be appreciated, especially as I'm thinking about doing a PhD and am currently exploring open problem domains.
Check out http://poker.cs.ualberta.ca/. They're probably the leaders in this field.
In research, you are looking for problems that can be solved in isolation, not ones that combine many diverse topics.
Perhaps poker is not researched more because gambling is tainted negatively by the society.
Isn't strategy the hard part of chess after all?
This sorta reminds me of the guy who got paid a fortune to dig holes in the beach, only to see them filled in by the ocean each night. No matter; he just got paid to dig them again the next day. Wasn't long before he thought, "This doesn't make any sense - I wanna build something that lasts and that others can use."
I wonder how big a role this kind of thinking played. The fact that you're part of ycombinator suggests that it's > 0.
I used to play soccer quite a lot, and playing well is a lot about knowing whether both your players and their players are going to go. The thing is though that it has nothing to do with explicit tells - its all about the geometry, the state of the game and how they are playing.
I've always though past a certain level there would just be no way a poker player was going to reliably give themselves away.
Really, though, it's more about observing how your opponent plays (both long term and short) and putting him on a range of holdings.
Party Poker wouldn't pay me my money for 6 months, but they got a new affiliate manager who eventually cut me a check. I wonder if they cut their losses or if my players actually generated enough rake to pay me back.
And why I own a whole bunch of cheap Dell PCs and registered copies of VMWare.
Edit: Never mind - realized this does not scale.
It's the winning consistently that you have to worry about.
Also, if you want to start playing poker using someone else's money, I would recommend these guys -- http://www.pokersourceonline.com/free-poker/money. They give you free money at one of the poker rooms.
I played too high of limits for my bankroll, so I would do well but my negative swings would deplete my whole bankroll.
That, and I found myself cashing out because I was in school at the time.