2006 AAAI Computer Poker Competition

Call for Participation Competition Rules Code Download Forums Results

The first AAAI Computer Poker Competition took place July 16-20, 2006, at the Twenty-First National Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Boston, MA.

The particular variation of poker played was heads-up limit Texas Hold-Em, and two different tournament structures were played: 

(1) the Bankroll Competition, and 
(2) the Series Competition

The complete set of tournament rules can be found here.

A more detailed analysis of the statistical significance can be found here.


There were five competing bots, three designed at universities and two designed by individuals. All played well, each winning at least one series.

Hyperborean Michael Bowling, Martin Zinkevich, Darse Billings, Nolan Bard, Morgan Kan, Michael Johanson, Robert Holte, Jonathan Schaeffer, Neil Burch, Carmelo Piccione, and Finnegan Southey developed Hyperborean at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

One paper on their bot was:
Darse Billings, Neil Burch, Aaron Davidson, Robert Holte, Jonathan Schaeffer, Terence Schauenberg, and Duane Szafron. "Approximating Game-Theoretic Optimal Strategies for Full-Scale Poker". In Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-03). 2003.
BluffBot BluffBot was written by Teppo Salonen in Irvine, US.

Andrew Gilpin and Tuomas Sandholm designed GS2 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US.

The most recent paper on their bot is:
Andrew Gilpin and Tuomas Sandholm. 2006. "A competitive Texas Hold'em poker player via automated abstraction and real-time equilibrium computation". In  Proceedings of the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-06). 2006.

Monash BPP

Monash BPP was designed by Ann Nicholson, Kevin Korb, and Steven Mascaro at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. 

One paper on their bot was:
K.B. Korb, A.E. Nicholson and N. Jitnah. "Bayesian Poker". In Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI-99). 1999.

Teddy Teddy was written by Morten Lynge in Ikast, Denmark.

Bankroll Competition

In the Bankroll Competition, there was a time limit of 7 seconds for a program to make each of its plays, and each program played 40,000 hands against each of the other programs in a round-robin fashion. The player with the highest total bankroll was declared the winner. Hyperborean, BluffBot, Monash BPP, and Teddy competed. The medalists were:

First Place Hyperborean (University of Alberta, Canada). Overall winning rate: 0.3925 small bets per hand.
Second Place BluffBot (USA). Overall winning rate: 0.0954 small bets per hand.
Third Place Monash BPP (Monash University, Australia). Overall winning rate: -0.0273 small bets per hand.

The units were "small bets/hand". To put this in perspective, always folding loses 0.75 small bets/hand. Each individual series is summarized below. The number is the amount (in terms of small bets/hand) the row player won from the column player. Green (positive) indicates a series where the row player won money. Red (negative) indicates a series where the column player won money.

Hyperborean BluffBot Monash BPP Teddy
Hyperborean 0.0514 0.7227 0.4067
BluffBot -0.0514 0.5271 -0.1895
Monash BPP -0.7227 -0.5271 1.1678
Teddy -0.4067 0.1895 -1.1678

Note that Hyperborean's margin of victory over BluffBot has very little to do with its performance against BluffBot directly. The majority of the difference is in how well Hyperborean and BluffBot played against Monash BPP and Teddy. A discussion of the statistical significance can be found here.

Series Competition

The Series Competition was also round-robin, but the structure was designed such that the focus was on whether one bot "wins" against another instead of by how much. In other words, it is not enough to glean a lot of money from the weaker players, you have to hold your own against everyone, because the series between the two "best" players determined the outcome.

In this competition, there was a much longer time for a program to play a hand -- 60 seconds. Thus, series between a pair of programs programs involved only 12,000 hands. Instead of measuring total winnings against all opponents, each series between two programs was declared a win for one of the programs, and the program with the most wins at the end of the tournament was declared the overall winner. Hyperborean, BluffBot, Monash BPP, and GS2 competed. The medalists were:

First Place  Hyperborean (University of Alberta, Canada). Record: 3 wins, 0 losses.
Second Place Bluffbot (USA). Record: 2 wins, 1 loss.
Third Place GS2 (Carnegie Mellon University, USA). Record: 1 win, 2 losses.

The units were "small bets/hand". To put this in perspective, always folding loses 0.75 small bets/hand. A green cell indicates the row player won the series, and a red cell indicates the column player lost the series. The numbers indicate how many small bets/hand were won during the series.

Hyperborean Bluffbot GS2 Monash BPP
Hyperborean 0.1145 0.1843 0.7344
BluffBot -0.1145 0.1200 0.5214
GS2 -0.1843 -0.1200 0.6512
Monash BPP  -0.7344 -0.5214 -0.6512

Hyperborean BluffBot GS2 Monash BPP
Hyperborean Hyperborean wins Hyperborean wins Hyperborean wins
BluffBot Hyperborean wins Bluffbot wins Bluffbot wins
GS2 Hyperborean wins Bluffbot wins GS2 wins
Monash BPP Hyperborean wins Bluffbot wins GS2 wins

A discussion of the statistical significance can be found here.

Computer Games Room


Computer Games Room, University of Alberta

In order to level the playing field, every bot was run on an identical machine. The greater degree of control allows us to force the bots to "forget", resulting in better results overall.

The competition was run on 16 Windows machines in the Computer Games Lab at the University of Alberta. There was one server machine, and 14 client machines (1 extra machine in case one of problems). The computers were 3.4 GHz P4 machines running Windows XP Professional, with 1 GB of RAM and an 80 GB hard drive.

The machines were setup and are maintained by Rod Johnson, Jon Martin, and John Bartoszewski. The competition code was written and run by Martin Zinkevich, Christian Smith, and Luke Duguid.   


Next Year


We are planning to run a computer poker tournament again at AAAI next year, July 22-26, 2007, in Vancouver. If you are interested in participating contact Martin Zinkevich - maz AT cs.ualberta.ca

Discussion of the rules will begin this summer, so please let us know now if you want to participate!

Copyright © 2006