The First Man-Machine
Poker Championship

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who are Phil Laak and Ali Eslami?

    Phil and Ali are two very successful professional poker players. For more information, and short biographies, please see the Competitors page.

  • Why Study Poker?

    Games are an excellent domain for artificial intelligence (AI) research because games have well defined rules and clear goals. The techniques that are learned from succeeding at games can be applied to real-world problems where the "rules" are not so well defined. AI research in games has produced very strong programs for checkers, chess, Othello, Scrabble, and backgammon which can outplay the best human players. Poker is different from all of these games in that it contains uncertainty (stochasticity, imperfect information, and partial observability). These elements make poker an interesting research challenge, and are also prevalent in real-world problems for which AI techniques are being sought.

  • Does Polaris really have a chance?

    We think it might. The University of Alberta has been doing research on poker-playing programs since 1992. Previous CPRG bots have performed well against strong human opposition. The new program that will play against Phil and Ali should be considerably stronger than previous bots. At the very least, we don't think it will embarrass itself terribly.

    For more information, please see the Competitors page. If you'd prefer a response with less scientific cautiousness and more hyperbole, see the Background page. However, we'd prefer to let the bot do the talking -- let's play the game, and let the chips fall where they may!

  • What is a duplicate match?

    In one half of the duplicate match, Phil will sit in the "North" seat against Polaris in the "South" seat. The same cards will be dealt in the other half of the duplicate match, but Polaris will sit in the "North" seat while Ali plays the "South" side.

    For instance, if the "North" side has a pair of Aces against a flush draw for the "South" player, both teams will have the chance to play each side of those cards. At the end of the match, the scores of teammates are added together, and the difference in totals is a much better indicator of superior skill than the usual money outcome, because much of the luck element has been eliminated. For more information, please see the Details page.

  • Can I attend?

    Anyone who is registered to attend AAAI 2007 in Vancouver can join the audience at the competition. As far as we know, the event will also be open to the general public, but AAAI may charge an admission fee. Regardless, there will be a considerable amount of media coverage, and we will be posting updates (blogging, photos, and possibly video clips) as the match progresses.

  • Will the match logs be available after the tournament?

    Yes, the match logs will be available after the tournament from this website. The logs format can be read by Poker Academy Prospector. It is yet to be decided if other formats will be available or not.

  • What kind of media attention will this event get?

    We're hoping that we'll get a fair amount of media attention. We do know that the BBC will be there filming and conducting some interviews. There will be a press conference on Sunday afternoon before the matches. If you're in the media and interested in covering the event, please send us an email.

  • What kind of live coverage will be provided for people who cannot attend the event?

    A liveblog will be updated during the event. The progress that the player on stage makes will be updated throughout the match. Once the match in the public room is over, then the results from the other half of the duplicate match will be shared as well.

  • Can I play against the bot?

    A version of the program will be playable for Poker Academy Online customers as soon as possible after the competition. For more details, please visit their man-machine page.