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Computer Scientists Unveil Cepheus, an Unbeatable Poker Program
In a study published in Science magazine on Thursday, University of Alberta computer scientists announced a computer program called Cepheus that has been scientifically proven to be unbeatable at Texas hold’em.
According to Professor Michael Bowling, who heads up the U of A’s Computer Poker Research Group, they used 4,000 powerful CPUs capable of playing 6 billion poker hands per second to teach their program every possible scenario it could encounter in a game of heads-up (i.e., two player), limit hold’em poker. And, after two months and countless trillions of hands of Texas hold’em—which is more hands than have ever been played in human history—Cepheus has officially “solved” the game, meaning it is statistically unbeatable.
Of course, “unbeatable” does not mean their poker program would make money on every single hand. “We’re not saying that it’s guaranteed to win money on every single hand,” Bowling explains. “If we’re dealt really terrible cards in every hand, then we’re not going to be able to win those hands. And so there is some probability that even if we were to play a long match that we would just continually get dealt really terrible cards.”
In other words, theoretically, even a poker novice could sit down and beat Cepheus in one, ten, or twenty hands. However, over the long haul, “luck” always evens out. So eventually the computer program would beat even the greatest professional in the world.
Skeptical? Don’t trust science? Well, as of this week, you can play Cepheus online. Go try a couple hundred hands and see how you do.