The Second Man-Machine
Poker Competition

Man vs machine to go second round at WSOP

By Sarah Polson

As thousands of poker players go mano a mano in Las Vegas during the 2008 World Series of Poker, some of the games top players are also preparing to go mano a machine.

The second Man vs. Machine Poker Championship will take place during the 2008 Gaming Life Expo at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas July 3-6.

The competition will pit some of the top pros in the game of poker against Polaris 2, created by the University of Alberta's Computer Poker Research Group.

The first Man vs. Machine Poker Championship took place in Vancouver in 2007 and featured Ali Eslami and Phil "The Unabomber" Laak against Polaris 1. The two pros played a series of games against the program.

The result was two wins, one loss and one statistical tie for the human team.

Each round was a 500-duplicate-hand Limit Texas Hold'em match where the same cards were dealt to Laak and the program in one room and Eslami and the program in another room. The difference was that the cards being dealt to Laak and the program in one room were reversed so that Eslami was getting the hands that Laak's program was getting and his program getting Laak's cards.

At the end of the match, the total number of chips won or lost by each team determined the winner.

This same format will be used for the second Man vs. Machine in Las Vegas when players take on Polaris 2.

"Against the current AI in Polaris 2, the average poker player would be completely dominated," said Bryce Paradis, lead coach at, whose poker coaches will be taking on the program this time around.

"The Polaris 2 team has made incredible improvements since the match last year," Paradis added. "The most powerful change is that the AI will now learn from and adapt to its opponents' play as the match progresses. This year's Man vs. Machine match is going to push our team to their limit."

The stoxpoker humans signed on to take on the computer so far are Nick Grudzien, IJay Palansky and Matt Hawrilenko. Combine, the three poker players have more than $1 million in lifetime cash-game Limit Hold'em winnings.

More participants will be added over the next few weeks.