Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Will AI Destroy Online Poker?

Stephen Hawking has been in the news again. This time giving us the dire warning that artificial intelligence is an existential threat to the human race. He is not alone, Elon Musk warned against this earlier this year, and the argument goes back all the way to Terminator.

It got me thinking. If we set aside the trivial matter of the destruction of humanity for a moment, is there something more imminent, and more important at stake?

In other words, will AI destroy online poker?

I’ll focus on the lower limits. The very best players can beat computers for the moment at least. Your average recreational player might think they are ‘good but unlucky’, though in fact their games usually have more holes than your average sieve.

Surely the computing power we have today, a smart programmer and some trial and error could produce code which could beat the game – at least up to around $2 / $4?

For non-AI code there are two areas that the computers would need to avoid:

  1. Becoming predictable (playing in a set way, which is exploitable by competent players)
  2. Being detected by the poker sites, the code would have to mimic a real player in many ways.

Neither of these would be too difficult with the right resources.

Now think about adding machine intelligence into the mix.

Adding the ability to learn, to mix up the play, even to chat with other players while doing it…

The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether this is already happening.

If it is not, then advances in processing power and learning code cannot be that far away from it. Give it 10 years at the current rate of improvement, and will any online skill game be possible? The human element could easily be introduced by including real humans into the mix… and the programs which instruct players on what to do would not necessarily even need to be on the same computer as the games.

Poker Site Defenses

Well, I did not set out to write a pessimistic post. We have to give the sites credit for improving their own defenses. Maybe computers will become intelligent enough to be able to detect when a player is too good to be a human being!

It may be that online poker as we know it has just 5 or 10 years before the ‘botpocalypse’, or it may be that the game will just be completely different 10 years from now.

Maybe we will all be playing 1 table each in an immersive VR environment, which mimics being in a real casino… I’m looking forward to it, though of course, some players might have a little help from AI even then.

GL at the tables, Mark

Picture Credit: Wikipedia

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