Artificial Intelligence conference to host computer poker competition

Instead of going head-to-head, players will compete program-to-program during a poker competition hosted by the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). The event, taking place July 16 through 20 at the 21st National Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Boston, Mass., will be the first poker competition for computer programs.

Among the entrants include Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Alberta, both of which have added computer poker to their research programs.

In Carnegie's case, the poker team is led by computer science professor Thomas Sandholm and graduate student Andrew Gilpin, who created a poker program called "GS1," which has outperformed two of the gaming industry's leading "pokerbots." They've since developed an improved version of their game-theory-based program called "GS2" which will compete at the AAAI event.

The Poker Research Group at the University of Alberta proposed the idea of the poker competition to AAAI. In order for them to compete, an impartial arbiter, Michael Littman from Rutgers University, was appointed to supervise and evaluate the process.

Because poker is all about money, the competition will be set up in two different ways. There will be a bankroll competition to determine which program can take the most money from the average player, as well as a traditional competition that will determine which program gets an edge on the best players.

According to the competition rules, the matches between programs will be short, but they will be repeated several times with memory resets in between to obtain more statistically significant results.

In order to encourage more participation, AAAI decided not to require participants attend or register for the conference to participate in the computer poker competition. Instead, anyone interested can send an e-mail with the subject "I want to compete" to with their team leader's name, other team members if there are any, the poker program name, postal address and phone number.

The official rules and other information can be found at

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