Take that Skynet! Against all odds, human trickery proves superior opposed to artificial intelligence. At least for now, human poker players can rest assure that they are still the best poker players to ever play the game. No, I have not lost my mind and this is not a gag article. Believe it or not it’s science! University science!
To settle the ultimate Man vs. Machine gambling debate, the computer scientists of the University of Alberta have done an experiment using their poker laptop program Polaris. Is player experience more powerful than programmed skill, let me correct that, mathematically-proven and programmed skill?

There have been precedents to this sort of artificial vs. human intelligence showdowns. For example, in 1996, the chess machine Deep Blue beat World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, who felt, as he said so himself, devastated.

In the Alberta experiment, the computer program faced Phil “The Unabomber” Laak and Ali Eslami, two famous and tough poker players, on an artificial intelligence conference on July 2007 in Vancouver. Both poker players trained relentlessly against other “bots” as they call them, in order to get accustomed to the calculated style of play that a computer provides. If they succeeded, they would get to split a $50,000 prize.

The basis of the experiment wanted to take the luck factor out of the equation and judge the plays purely on a matter of dexterity. They played four matches consisting of 500 duplicate matches. On one room, Polaris, playing Laak, would get the cards that Eslami, playing Polaris, is getting in the other room. Both of the players are playing identical matches simultaneously but they are getting the opposite cards. At the end of the four matches, there was a chip count, Laak’s and Eslami’s chips against Polaris’s.

The rounds played as such:

Day One
First round: Although Polaris won by a smidgen, it was considered a statistical draw.
Second Round: Polaris utterly defeated both players.
The players went back to the hotel and analyzed their mistakes in order to make a comeback.

Day Two
First and second round: Phil and Ali managed to defeat Polaris in both sessions and won the competition with a record of 2-1-1. Yay for humanity! Hasta la vista Polaris!

Although winning against a computer program was a great ego boost for these two players, they do not rest on their laurels. They acknowledged the fact that the victory margin was super slim and called described Polaris’s skill as “very scary”. The scientists on their part said that they had learned a lot form the experiment and will continue to improve Polaris in order to render it unbeatable. Why, guys why? Is nothing sacred anymore? Hahaha just kidding, I do think that the program is really cool, but I am super pleased that human astuteness is still able to beat machines, when it comes down to it, we are superior bluffers and more adaptable, which translate into loads of cash! So yeah, go us! Feeling empowered? What better way to use your mojo than logging on and practicing your poker craftiness at Silver Oak Casino!


Simon is an overactive gambler and the Staff Writer here at Silver Oak. He loves casino bonuses, online slots, and using the em dash too often. Currently, he rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada.