Robot poker player ups the ante

US boffins have created a poker playing robot that knows when to hold, knows when to fold, knows when to walk away and knows when to run.

Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a smart learning program that can play a winning hand of Texas hold ‚em.

Professor Tuomas Sandholm and graduate student Andrew Gilpin are behind the game theory program that will compete in the Computer Poker Competition on 16-20 July in Boston run by the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

The poker robot, called GS1, is not yet able to beat the best human players. However, it has outperformed the two leading ‚pokerbots‘ in playing heads-up, limit Texas hold ‚em in tests at Carnegie Mellon earlier this year.

Both of GS1′s opponents were commercially available programs that, like other pokerbots, incorporate the expertise of human poker players.

GS1, by contrast, develops its own strategy after performing an automated game theory-based analysis of poker rules.

Sandholm and Gilpin have since developed an improved version of their program, called GS2, which will compete in the competition.