Published on April 12, 2018 by

How will powerful AI programs such as Libratus change poker? Paul Phua referees the video debate between Timofey Kuznetsov (“Trueteller”) and Rui Cao.

Does the Libratus AI prove poker is a game of skill, not luck?

Rui Cao: I think we knew that way before.

Timofey Kuznetsov: Sort of it proves that poker is a game of skill.

Rui Cao: Yeah, it’s kind of scientific proof, but it’s been proven before. You can put one person, play a sample of this and you have an ‘interval of confidence’ that this guy is better than this guy. It’s the same situation.

Timofey Kuznetsov: Yeah, but like the bad thing for poker that Libratus has done is, like, it showed for the first time in poker history that a machine is better than humans, in some things at least. Before, poker was one of the only games that a machine was still worse than humans at.

Rui Cao: Incomplete information, and for the first time it’s been beaten.

Timofey Kuznetsov: But it’s still not the end of poker, for sure, because machines only beats human heads in one form of heads up game. And in, like, a ring game it will be forever till they can beat us.

Rui Cao: Oh, I think it could be done, not in many years.

Timofey Kuzssetnov: No, it almost cannot be done, there is no Nash Equilibrium three handed.

Rui Cao: Yeah, but they can… l think there is a way to do it.

Timofey Kuznetsov: l mean… OK, l disagree with you on that. I think they cannot beat us in a ring game.

Rui Cao: Really?

Timofey Kuznetsov: Yeah, yeah, I think so.

Rui Cao: I mean without any colluding and stuff.

Timofey Kuznetsov: Yeah, without any colluding they cannot beat us.

Rui Cao: I think they can. I mean they can’t right now, but l think in under five years.

Timofey Kuznetsov: l want to believe they can’t! The fate of mankind depends on you beating the top AI. What is your strategy?

Rui Cao: I think l cannot beat it. But it depends which software. If I think the software is perfect l just play my… I don’t think it matters too much how l play because he’s going to beat me anyway. But if l think the software is not perfect and so, like, situations are missing, l’m going to try to play some unpredictable thing that maybe the software doesn’t cover. But now l think it’s pretty hard.

Timofey Kuznetsov: Yeah, it depends what task we had. If you have to beat it on, like, 10,000 hands or something not too big, you should just play very gambly, aggressive, and just try to hit a good variance run, you know. Like you’re not going to beat it on average anyway, so you just, whatever, try to gamble it up, like go all-in with some marginal hands, try to win them. I guess that’s the way you should try!

Does the success of AI make you want to play mathematically and less intuitively?

Timofey Kuznetsov: I’d go a little bit the other way. The thing that Libratus has beat humans will influence online games a lot. Like, in a couple of years will be no heads up matches going on mostly at all online, and l would say in all games, probably. But No-Limit heads up is dead online now, nobody’s playing, mostly because the machines are too good now, and like if somebody’s sort of using the machine help or using it, it’s impossible to beat him. That’s why online heads up No-Limit is dead now. That’s why for example l’m playing way more live games than online nowadays. It’s part of the reason why.

Rui Cao: l think there will always be live poker games because it’s still two humans, one against each other, so… I mean we can’t beat machines because machines use strategy that humans have a very, very hard time doing. It’s like, randomising stuff that the machine can do and the human brain… you always have some levelling thing in human brains so l think there will still be difference in skill between two humans.

Timofey Kuznetsov: Yeah. I mean, the strategies Libratus is using now are very, very, very complicated and even if it beats humans, and you know the strategy, you can see the strategy it uses, it will be impossible for you to implement the strategy because it’s just way too complicated. It’s the way it does it.

In online poker, how likely are you to be playing against a bot?

Timofey Kuznetsov: It depends how high you play and what is the format of the game you’re playing. If you’re playing heads up and pretty high, l think the chances are decently high. But if you’re playing, like, a ring game, or a tournament especially, it’s like almost, you’re not going to face any bots or anything like that, you don’t need to worry about that. Even if you play, like, a mid-stakes ring game, even if you face a bot, it’s not going to be too good a bot. So you probably should be happy about it, not sad.

How much advantage do HUDs and trackers give to pros online?

Rui Cao: I think it’s a little help.

Timofey Kuznetsov: Yeah, it is… no, it’s a big help when you work on your game, when you try to improve your game. But in the game flow it’s not too much of a help.

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