Artificial intelligence (or AI) could be defined as the science that tries to develop and improve our knowledge of computers, software and any similar electronic component. It’s a currently growing sector, in this digital age, and which has already proven its usefulness on many occasions through various applications and processes that are now well applied in the daily life of human beings. Security, health, automotive, sport or commerce are some of the sectors that have most developed revolutionary AI capabilities. But what about the gaming industry? Have there also been advances in this area? Obviously yes.
And poker was even one of the pioneers in this area, just like chess. As it is a game with a multitude of possibilities within the same game or in the same hand, the challenge for the AI engineers was great and interesting to overcome. And the truth is that artificial intelligence has brought fundamental changes to poker, both in its newest version and in the most classic, online or live, in two different directions: on the one hand it presented itself as a great support to the player, on the other it revealed itself as a formidable adversary.
The fusion of AI with Big Data has allowed poker players to study all aspects of their game very precisely, with the clear objective of being able to improve and refine their poker strategy in order to obtain better results. And of course, it has been shown many times that an artificial intelligence can play poker much more efficiently than human beings. So we’re going to look at that, but also at how AI has been a real revolution for online poker sites.
Artificial intelligence for the player
In a game like chess, which can also very well be described as a mental sport like poker, the players have total control over the board. They know the positioning of all their pieces, as well as those of their opponent, and the movement options that go with them, both those that could win them and those that mean defeat. The situation is different with cards. Because the rules of poker clearly stipulate that it is impossible for a player to know the cards of his opponents, nor those which will be shown later on the flop. This is why the composure and mental capacities of each player are so important, not to mention the luck factor which also has its place.
Artificial intelligence can then help the player on this point, by collecting all the data from his games in order to help him improve his decision-making process over the long term. We are talking here studies of hands played, precise calculations of probabilities, analyzes of rivals or estimates of frequency at which to play.
Artificial intelligence against the player
Now let’s dwell on a much more complicated scenario for the human being. The one in which the machine manages to supplant and even eventually replace it, and the one that is the source of so much rejection and suspicion of the development of this AI for the future. In poker, software has been created with the objective of playing poker more efficiently than humans, and it has obviously succeeded.
DeepStack was one of the first to appear in 2017, and it was used in a Texas Holdem tournament, where it managed to defeat over 30 professional players. He faced both men and women, showing no difference in behavior against any of his opponents although seeming to show an almost human intuition.
If Canada, the country of origin of DeepStack, was able to achieve such a feat, the United States cannot do less. And so it was they who gave birth a few months later to Libratus, an improved AI that managed to capture 85% of the chips in play in the online tournament in which it was implemented. And this paved the way for the creation of Pluribus, another intelligence with similar characteristics but tweaked to ensure it doesn’t rely solely on strategy to win. She then managed to get rid of more than 15 players among the best in the world in Texas Hold’em.
Artificial intelligence on networks
These software have one characteristic in common, and that is that none of their developers have ever published the details of their creation, because it could lead to an absurd situation, where we would see bots fighting each other. on the online poker tables, if this knowledge became accessible to everyone. The purpose of these AIs is only to train the players, and the networks dedicated to this game are extremely vigilant about this.
But even these networks could benefit from the arrival of AI in poker, in areas like the verification of the human identity of players, the distribution of winnings in an exact and instantaneous way, the control and detection of fake accounts, etc. In all these applications, AI already seems to have its place, and it is clear that its trajectory will be inseparable from poker in the future. It will simply always be necessary to make sure to take the good side of it, and to abandon the bad.