Department of Computing Science
University of Alberta
August 30, 1995
Games are an interesting and challenging domain for computer science research, having the nice characteristics of a clearly defined set of rules and a specific goal. Developing a program to play a strategic game well often involves the application of theoretical concepts to practical situations, and the relative success of that endeavour can be measured with quantifiable results.
The game of poker is logistically simple yet strategically complex, and offers many properties not exhibited by chess, checkers, and most other well-studied games. Most importantly, poker is a non-deterministic game with imperfect (hidden) information. Handling unreliable or incomplete information is a fundamental problem in computer science, and poker provides an excellent domain for investigating problems of decision making under conditions of uncertainty.
Somewhat surprisingly, the potential benefits of studying poker have been largely overlooked by computer scientists and game researchers. In this essay we survey what resources are available for academic researchers, and lay some foundations for the scientific exploration of this fascinating game.