Poker champ and computer match wits at conference



jessica smith/for metro vancouver


Phil “Unabomber” Laak plays poker against a computer at the 23rd Conference On Artificial Intelligence at the Hyatt Regency.


Phil “the Unabomber” Laak unleashed aggression at his opponent in heads-up limit Texas hold’em during the Man-Machine Poker Championship at the Conference on Artificial Intelligence yesterday at the Hyatt Regency.

“Whatever the bot’s got against me, it’s not made to handle twisted aggression,” he told the audience, and launched into 15 hands of fast, high betting in the middle of the third game.

Polaris, the artificial intelligence machine Laak faced, stepped up its betting in turn.

Laak’s bankroll quickly dropped $300, and he admitted he “got the short end” of the run.

Polaris has exceeded its designers’ expectations, lead architect of the University of Alberta Poker Research Group, Darse Billings, said.

Laak is a former World Poker Tour champion and a host of the Mojo HD show, I Bet You.

To reduce the element of luck, Laak had a teammate, pro-poker player Ali Eslami, who played the other side of the same game against the same kind of bot in a room upstairs.

To win, the humans had to make the best of the cards they were dealt.