- PokerStars is looking to hire experts with experience in developing artificial intelligence software
- Are we going to see a new poker bot in the future, and what could it mean for players?
PokerStars, the leading online poker provider, has rolled out job ads seeking staff to fill in the roles for the project aiming to develop “a fully flexible AI agent”, leading many to believe it has intentions of developing a poker playing artificial intelligence.
There are numerous positions available, including various roles for research engineers and other members of the team.
While the ultimate goal of the project remains unclear at this time, some are speculating whether PokerStars could potentially develop technology such as a standalone poker playing engine, capable of challenging human opponents.
Online poker and AI
Over the course of the last few years, online poker has been in the focus of different artificial intelligence projects. According to many researchers, the game represents a very interesting challenge because of a highly complicated decision tree.
Some years ago, chess was the game to beat, and many were convinced that there’d never be a computer capable of beating the highest rated human opponents. However, it is safe to say that today’s chess engines, running even on average computers, are capable of challenging the best grand masters out there.
Unlike chess, poker is a game of incomplete information, which means there’s much more guesswork the AI has to do to make correct decisions. The unpredictability and practically infinite number of choices on every betting street make poker a much tougher nut to crack.
However, this challenge doesn’t discourage scientists. On the contrary, it gives them necessary motivation to work hard and try to solve the unsolvable, and they certainly seem to be on the right way.
A few months ago, a poker playing AI called Libratus emerged victorious against four top-tier heads up players, which came as a big surprise to everyone.
Although it was an important milestone in the development of a high-level poker AI, the fact remains that playing against just one opponent is hugely different to playing against five or eight other players, which is the usual number of players in a game of Texas Hold’em.
What’s even more challenging is developing such software and having it operate optimally on regular computers and mobile devices. While Libratus certainly achieved a lot, the fact is the AI is operated by a powerful supercomputer, which makes the technology fairly remote to any average user.
There’ve been numerous attempts at developing a poker playing artificial intelligence, one of them being PokerAlfie. This six-max poker bot claims to be able of challenging even the toughest players out there, but there is still no tangible data to confirm or refute this statement.
PokerStars as a game changer
When it comes to online poker software, PokerStars has always been the leader in nearly every aspect. Its software solution is by far superior to a large majority of other platforms.
If there is anyone capable of developing a high-quality poker AI, that’s PokerStars. It have the required experience, the team of people who deeply understand the game, money, and the necessary technology.
This latest news With few more experts to fill in the holes, they could create a poker bot unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Do we need a poker AI?
One thing that remains somewhat unclear is why would PokerStars develop such an artificial intelligence – if that is indeed the case? The whole point of online poker, certainly from the players’ perspective is the ability to play against other human opponents to test your skills and win some money.
If PokerStars developed a perfect AI, provided it can be done, it seems like they’d be doing themselves a disservice. If the bot couldn’t be beaten, people would quickly get tired of trying.
The same thing happened with chess, even though players didn’t have to put any money on the line and they’d actually get paid to play. Once the AI had become so advanced that human opponents simply stood no chance, the challenge was lost.
Magnus Carlsen, a reigning chess world champion, even went as far as to say that he refuses to play against computers, because computers make humans look stupid.
Of course, this is all pure speculation based on the latest news that PokerStars is looking for AI employees. As yet it is unknown what kind of an AI PokerStars has in mind and if the software would ever be used on real money tables.
There’s little doubt, though that it is an interesting development for the industry. Time will tell if it will lead to a bot that can hold its own against knowledgeable human opponents.
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