Humans beat the machines at poker

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Humans beat the machines at poker

Human poker players have won by a narrow margin in the first official competition between humans and computers.

The game, organised by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, pitched two of the world's best players against a program called Polaris developed by the University of Alberta. 

The game was played in four rounds, with the human players and computer software exchanging hands on alternate rounds.

One round was drawn, one was won by the human player, and the third was won by the software. But Ali Eslami pipped the computer to the post by just 570 points in the final round.

"I really am happy it's over," Eslami told the Middle East Times. "I am surprised we won because Polaris is already so good and it will be tough to beat in future."

Eslami, a former computer consultant, said that he was surprised at how exhausting it was playing against a machine.

Michael Littman, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Rutgers University, served as the official arbiter of the game and said that he had expected a draw. In the end he declared the humans "clear winners".

The Polaris program was developed over 16 years and is unusual in that poker is largely a psychological game, rather than one based on strict mathematical probabilities.

Scientists in Canada recently unveiled an 'unbeatable' draughts program, and IBM's Deep(er) Blue project has beaten grand masters at speed chess.

The team behind Polaris have said that they will improve the software and be back for another shot next year.
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