Poker Pros Crushing AI Halfway into Challenge; Polk Dominating

Artificial poker intelligence might be further away from solving Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em than first thought.

Roughly halfway through the first-ever Brains v. AI Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em poker challenge at Three Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, the humans are running away with it.

After 42,100 of the 80,000 hands to be played poker pros Doug Polk, Bjorn Li, Dong Kim and Jason Les are $568,662 ahead.

Polk and Li in particular have been shining with both up on the AI, dubbed "Claudico," by around $350k.

Claudico Improving, Les Only Pro Trailing

The challenge, which begun a week ago today and has been running daily, has been a learning experience for all involved says Tuomas Sandholm, the Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon who has led the development of Claudico.

"Claudico performs real-time reasoning while playing a hand and improves its strategy during the match by continuously computing. I know many people are rooting for the humans, but I'm still hopeful that Claudico will give them a run for their money."

"This is quite possibly the highest-quality poker ever seen. Furthermore, both Claudico and the humans are improving their game throughout the event. Both sides are already playing stronger than they were at the start.

"I have been extremely impressed by the pros' ability to improve and adjust their game no matter what curve balls Claudico has thrown at them." 


Most impressive has been Polk, already considered one of the best heads-up No-Limit Hold'em players in the world.

Polk has been playing the challenge live in the Rivers Casino and interacting with fans in the process.

He's up $356,752 - the most of any pro. Li is also performing well, currently up $345,232.

Kim is up $84,718 while Les is the only pro currently behind at $218,040 in the hole.

Despite clearly outclassing the AI, the most sophisticated NLHE program ever created, Polk has come away impressed:

"Playing Claudico has been unlike any other game I've ever played.

"I've been taking notes along the way when it makes a move that I wasn't expecting so that I can continue to improve my strategy and make sure I walk away with a win."

Check in with the live scoreboard, updated every 600 hands played, right here. Watch the live stream of the match itself below everyday (except Sunday May 3) from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m (ET). The challenge ends on May 8.

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