Forget Chess Or Jeopardy, This Poker-Playing Computer Is Near-Unbeatable

Sure, you might have survived dysentery playing Oregon Trail back in the day, or perhaps you currently enjoying slaying beasts or conquering lands in modern computer games.  But now, a new computer program can compete against even the most savvy players when it comes to a time-honored game of wits and skill:  poker.

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and when to POWER OFF.
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According to, a new poker-playing computer has emerged as a champion among gaming machines.  While there is a long history of computers being able to understand and perform exceptionally well in "perfect information" games (which are games where both players are aware of all decisions that have been made during the progress of the match, such as checkers or chess), a new system of "learning" allowed for the unexpected.

"Solving" the game of Texas Hold 'Em via a series of bets and bluffs, the Cepheus poker-playing computer fascinatingly was taught to learn from its own mistakes.  The scientists behind the project first instructed Cepheus in the basic rules of Texas Hold 'Em and had the machine play numerous games against itself to determine a variety of outcomes.  As this occurred, Cepheus compiled a list of "regrets", where it could have bet differently, bluffed, or folded for a more auspicious outcome.

All poker players know what that kind of regret feels like.  Cepheus actually learned from it.
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Cepheus was then programmed to act on its most major regrets while ignoring the lesser ones.  Eventually, a methodology emerged for Cepheus to navigate bets and bluffs in the most effective ways possible, and the "regret" list scaled down to near zero.  This mathematical take on the game allowed Cepheus to achieve near-perfect play.

Computer scientist Michael Bowling, the lead author of the study, explained that Cepheus's techniques could be extrapolated to a much wider set of purposes.  He explained, "...the techniques that we used to solve the game apply even more broadly than entertainment activities. I’m talking about any decision-making scenario. Politics becomes a game. Auctions become a game. Security becomes a game.”

"A game for me to WIN, mwahaha..."  -Cepheus, probably.
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Feeling lucky?  You and Cepheus can duke it out here.  Just remember that while Cepheus's skills aren't quite perfect yet, the computer is operating well above the odds of chance thanks to its knowledge, and will likely beat you in the long run.  Having played over a billion billion hands (more poker than the entire human race has ever played) definitely gives it an edge, so don't lose your shirt!  The computer won't need it, anyway.

Cepheus is out there...don't get stung!
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