The First Man-Machine
Poker Championship

Live Updates Blog

Note: The information on this page may be incomplete or contain errors. My apologies for any misquotes or incorrect hand history information.

Session Four - Underway

$10/$20 Limit Texas Hold'em Seat 1 Seat 2
Private Room Polaris -$110 Phil Laak +$110
Public Room Ali Eslami +$460 Polaris -$460
After 500 hands.

11:19pm Phil came in with at $110 win, so the humans win! The post game speeches are going on right now and Ali says that "this was not a win". He told the crowd about the glitch that existed in the bot that played in the 3rd session. Also, Ali and Phil both agreed that they would not have won either match with time constraints. At any rate, they battled their hearts out and they definitely deserved winning. Still, they are heaping loads of praise on the bot. There is too much stuff going on for me to blog but I'll post a summary tomorrow sometime.

11:11pm Ali isn't sure whether he's won or not. Darse says that Ali played very well and that if Phil hung tough he thinks they won. Ali is really happy its over. Please stay tuned for the result! In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed my liveblogging work!

Darse adds: Actually, i said that Ali played *extremely* well -- he demonstrated a deep understanding of this opponent, and put on a masterful display of poker. To use Phil's words, his play was just _sick_.

11:10pm Ali's bankroll after 500 hands: $460. Hand 483: Ali flops top two pair and turns a full house but doesn't get any action. Hand 488: Ali has 8Jo and has a gutshot draw on the flop. Polaris caps the flop betting which convinces Ali to fold the turn. 10 hands to go! A few pots go Ali's way, including a hand where he flops top pair of kings and gets Polaris to call a flop and turn bet. Last hand, Ali wins the last hand with J7o and finishes up $460.

11:04pm Ali's bankroll after 475 hands: +$535. Some trading of small pots here. Ali has gotten quiet, and I think he's concentrating on keeping the pots small-ish. On hand 467, Ali flops top and bottom pair with K2o. Ali check-raises the flop and Polaris folds. Later on, Phil hits a pair and has some good draws as well, but Polaris makes him pay with a diamond flush. The home stretch is now here!

10:57pm Ali's bankroll after 450 hands: +$525. This match is taking its toll on your blogger. My updates are betting a bit worse here as the match heads for the finish. This has been a marathon for Ali and Phil, and the blogging team. Hand 437: Ali flops trip sevens with an ace kicker, but he loses Polaris on the the turn. Hand 443: Ali has pocket jacks and sees a dangerous looking AQ6 flop with two hearts. One bet on each round and polaris shows a pair of queens and takes down the flop. Hand 449: Ali decides to bluff into Polaris with J3o, and gets called on the flop and the turn but Polaris calls every attempt to raise by Ali. Polaris called with just a pair and wins a large pot!

Ali chats with the audience earlier.

10:48pm Ali's bankroll after 425 hands: +$820. Hand 409: Ali turns a gutshot draw, but tons of bets go in on the turn and river. Both players show the nut straight and they chop the pot. Ali turned a straight on hand 418 to crack Polaris' pocket aces.

10:38pm Ali's bankroll after 400 hands: +$635. The cards are swinging back Polaris' way a bit over the last few hands. On hand 392, Polaris rivers a straight, but its check-raise attempt doesn't payoff. A few hands later, Ali gets pocket aces and sees a QQ8 board. He gets raised by Polaris on the flop. Two clubs come down to make four clubs on the board, but the river goes check-check. Polaris shows two pair to win the pot.

Ali ponders about the current situation.

10:30pm Ali's bankroll after 375 hands: +$620. I want to note that even if Ali and Phil win this match, this has been an incredible experience, and it has totally been worth it from a research standpoint. Ali and Phil have been awesome, and the insights they've given us will help bot development for the years to come for sure! Also: there's no guarantee that the humans have won - let me make that clear. Phil is in tough in the hotel room which is turning into a torture chamber in this match (the humans have not won the hotel session so far in this tournament). Hand 361: Ali flops a set, but Polaris turns a flush. Biggest pot of the night so far. A few hands later Phil flops top pair kings, but Polaris hits a runner-runner flush to make a huge pot. Ali is pretty sure that hand Polaris made money on since Phil would've likely folded.

10:22pm Ali's bankroll after 350 hands: +$785. Ali is talking at this point about how he knows that he's playing against a bot that doesn't learn so he can do the same thing over and over again. It should be noted that one of the reasons Ali is playing so well against the bot is that a lot of information has been conveyed to the players over the last two days and that is playing to the player's advantage. Later on, Ali made a crazy call with jack high on the river and caught Polaris bluffing. This is amazing: Ali is doing incredibly well. He's still claiming this is torture, but I think he's definitely winning this side of the cards. If Phil is making the same adjustments to the bot, the humans are totally going to win this session.

10:10pm Ali's bankroll after 325 hands: +$895. Ali mentions that this is a bad series of cards for Phil, and he hopes that Phil weathers the storm okay. Ali flops a big draw on hand 319: a gutshot draw and a flush draw. Ali catches his gutshot and Polaris shows a bigger flush draw with some pairs as well. Wow did Ali get lucky.

This is our blogging station at the side of the stage.

10:02pm Ali's bankroll after 300 hands: +$535. Hand 283: Ali was put in a tough spot where he hit bottom pair of sixes. He decides to fold to the river bet when the board was really scary: all sorts of flush and straight draws came in on the river and the board was paired. It looks to me like Ali is playing extremely well, so the bot looks in tough. We'll see how the match plays out, but a lot of this really depends on how Phil is doing. Hand 297: Ali flops a queen high flush, and Ali check-raises. Then a bet goes in on each round after that and Polaris shows 77. On hand 300, Ali flops trip 5s but a scary card comes on the turn bringing all sorts of draws in. But Ali bets and Polaris folds.

9:52pm Ali's bankroll after 275 hands: $380. Ali is playing a tighter, low-variance style. He says that he tends to lose more on little pots, and he wins more on bigger pots so that's why he's playing a little tighter. Hand 265: Ali hits top set of jacks and decides to slowplay the turn. He gets a few extra bets from Polaris who turned a pair of sevens. Ali's starting to hit some cards, but he's also getting a lot for them. I wonder how Phil is doing.

9:41pm Ali is back and talking a little bit about what Ali and Phil talked about in their huddle. He says that he learned a lot from the bot's play earlier in the match. To be clear, the logs from the first day were given to the players so they could study for today. We'll be under way shortway again.

Polaris gets lucky and hits a king on the flop against Ali's jacks.

9:28pm Ali's bankroll after 249 hands: +$105. This match seems like it's almost dead even. Hand 232 gave Ali quite a bit of pause: it attempted to check-raise the flop and the river, but neither worked so Ali lost only a small pot to Polaris' to pair of aces. Hand 240: Ali has pocket jacks but the flop is AK6. Polaris got hit the king with K9 and won a medium sized pot. The bankroll advantage has flipped several times over the last few hands. On hand 249, Ali's top pair good kicker beat Polaris' top pair no kicker. At this point, halfway through the match, Ali decides to take a quick restroom break.

Ali's girlfriend Ana watching Ali do battle with the bot.

9:14pm Ali's bankroll after 227 hands: +$5. On hand 216, Ali has a busted flush draw on the river with ace high. It's a small pot, and Ali tried to decide whether or not to bet for value on the river. He tries, but Polaris doesn't call. Polaris' lead is now down to a small amount compared to earlier on. Looks like the cards are balancing which is kind of nice to see for the final match. The audience is enjoying the match -- they are quiet and you can almost feel like they are sucking in all the poker knowledge this session is offering. It's like going to poker school. On the downside, the room is entirely too warm too. I don't know what happened to the air conditioning that was running full blast earlier today. At the end of this sequence Ali started leading in bankroll.

9:00pm Ali's bankroll after 200 hands: -$260. This sequence has been pretty chippy. On hand 190, Ali flops the nut straight with 67o, and gets raised by Polaris. The turn brings a ten, and the river an 8, and one bet goes in each round. Polaris shows a weak pair of nines. On hand 194, the preflop is capped, and Ali flops trip jacks with KJ. He won a nice sized pot. Looks like the cards are coming back his way.

Poker professional Terence Chan observing the match.

8:45pm Ali's bankroll after 175 hands: -$680. I missed most of the action in this sequence since I had to make a phone call. It looks like Polaris is up even more than before but that's probably just the cards. When I returned, there was some interesting commentary between Ali and member of the audience Terence Chan who is one of the world's best limit players. On the last hand in the sequence, Phil makes a full house on the turn and gets paid off. Polaris calls him down and shows the flush it made on the river.

Ali Thinking about what to do.

8:29pm Ali's bankroll after 150 hands: -$555. Ali just made some very excellent analysis to call that Polaris either had an ace or king high hand. Ali called Polaris' river bet for the chop. Ali thinks he's getting the worse end of the cards, and he says that it would probably be better if Phil got the worse cards and he got the better ones due to their respective styles of play. Ali got AA on hand 137 but Polaris folded before the flop. On the plus side for him, Phil probably didn't get himself into trouble on that hand. Ali asked to mark down hand 140 as a hand -- he made a tough laydown then (I didn't see it, but I'll fill in the details later).

8:21pm Ali's bankroll after 126 hands: -$350. This is fascinating to watch. I'm learning an amazing amount about heads-up limit hold'em, and I think a lot of people in the audience are thinking the same thing. Ali is making some extremely interesting comments about the bot -- and he's very articulate in how he's saying them. On hand 117, Ali sees Polaris make a fishy looking bet on the river and Ali raise-bluffs and Polaris folds. On the next hand, Ali flops a set of nines but loses when two more hearts come to give Polaris the one card flush.

UofA people Duane Szafron and Darse Billings watch the action.

8:10pm Ali's bankroll after 100 hands: -$255. Ali says he is ecstatic that he's "424 hands away from being able to play normal schlubs again." He says it's exhausting playing against these bots. Lots of chippy play. Looks like Ali is being very careful when he chooses to bluff. On hand 85, he bets to protect his hand when he turns a middle pair of 8s. When he does that he says that if he gets called he's scared of a king or an ace ... and one lands on the river! It goes check-check, and Polaris shows bottom pair of sixes to lose the pot to Ali. On hand 94, Ali has 99 and ends up folding to Polaris on the turn on a scary looking board. We've got a pretty good sized audience here tonight. Not quite as large as the evening yesterday, but we don't have the spillover from the AAAI opening reception.

The crowd, including Jonathan Schaeffer (back, standing) and Michael Bowling (middle, seated), watching the action.

7:49pm Ali's bankroll after 75 hands: -$45. On hand 57, Ali tries to bluff the turn card which brought in several flush and straight draws. Ali got called by Polaris with ace high and Polaris won the pot. On hand 64, Ali flops two pair with KQ and then turns a full house. He gets called down by Polaris' pair of tens. On hand 68, Ali gets pocket aces and hits a set on the flop. However, Polaris folds to Ali's river bet.

Ali on the stage thinking hard

7:40pm Ali's bankroll after 50 hands: -$95. In this sequence, there's been some chippy play. Ali seems to be playing cautiously and thinking carefully about his hand. It's becoming increasingly clear to me through Ali's insights into the bot's play that he is indeed the ringer in this match. Ali's comments are extremely interesting, and it seems clear to me that Ali is the one that will win this match for the humans if that's what happens. On hand 38, Ali caps the betting preflop with 66 and flops a set. Polaris calls down with 88. On hand 47, Ali flops top pair of jacks with J5. The turn and the river come a queen and an ace though, and Ali says this is a "tough spot". He says to make a note of the hand to see what Polaris had when he folds.

7:26 pm Ali's bankroll after 25 hands: -$10. On hand 9, Ali flops top pair kings, and spent some time trying to figure out how to get the most money out of the pot. He check called the flop and bet out on the turn and river. One bet on each round and Polaris shows ace high so Ali won the pot. Hand 15, Ali has some insightful thoughts about his queen high hand, saying that he could really do anything with the hand: fold, call, or raise. He ends up deciding to call down to see Polaris' pair of tens. On hand 18, Ali flops a pair of deuces and a flush draw and turns another 2. The river brings a four making the board 42724. Ali gets check-raised and Polaris wins with a full house. Ali starts discussing how this match is nothing like the real work poker games in that he's got to spend a lot more time thinking about his own decisions. He says "It's not fair what you guys have done."

Ali wins the first hand of the final session.

7:12pm Ali wins the first hand with trip nines which he hit on the turn to beat Polaris' pair of jacks. Ali spent quite a bit of time talking about strategy. Because the players and the UofA team have spent some time chatting, Ali knows the kind of bot that sits in the seat. It's an equilibrium style bot that doesn't learn.

7:08pm Ali has taken his seat. Phil is now being escorted to the hotel room and they will begin shortly.

7:03pm The players have arrived from dinner and a strategy session. Phil said on his return that "This is so intense. I've never had a huddle session before a poker match before".

6:10pm The match is delayed. The players were swamped with media after the first match, and got away late for dinner.