Last year they suffered a narrow loss, but artificial intelligence researchers at the University of Alberta are confident their poker playing computer program, Polaris II, will turn the tables this week.

The U of A team will challenge some of the best poker players in the world in heads up matches of Texas Hold ‘Em, from July 4 to 6 at the Gaming Life Expo in the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

“We’re very excited. We’ve made considerable strides at improving Polaris’ play,” says Michael Bowling, lead researcher for the project. “We really think our chances our good.”


The match this year will follow the same format as the first annual event, held last year in Vancouver, B.C. Duplicate sessions of Texas Hold ‘Em will be held, with human pairings playing in separate rooms against Polaris at the same time.

The humans will play the opposite ends of the same cards dealt for both games.

Bowling also feels the importance of the event goes beyond mere “game playing.”

“The techniques that we and others are developing to cope with uncertainty in poker are critical for many promising applications of artificial intelligence,” he says.

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