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New computer algorithm plays poker almost perfectly

You’ve got to know when to fold ‘em playing against this program

By
2:00pm, January 8, 2015
Texas Hold’em hand

POKER DOMINANCE  A human player would probably win with this Texas Hold’em poker hand because of luck of the draw. But in the long run, a person would always lose to a new algorithm that has mastered heads-up limit Hold’em.

Even the best poker face won’t work against a new superhuman cardsharp.

For the first time, a computer algorithm has solved a game of poker, heads-up limit Texas Hold’em, making it unbeatable in the long run against any opponent. The achievement, detailed in the Jan. 9 Science, may help develop strategies that maximize return in a business negotiation or minimize the risk of terrorist attacks — even if an adversary knows the strategy.

“It’s a big step toward understanding games that are closer to real-world problems,” says Murray Campbell, a computer scientist at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Campbell was not involved in the study but helped develop Deep Blue, the computer that defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

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