Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) could pose a threat to the future viability of internet poker. It all started in 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Two decades later and Deep Mind’s (the Google owned AI company) Alpha Zero has taught itself how to play chess to a high standard in just four hours.
At the World Chess championship in London 2018 Alpha Zero was evaluating the moves of the champions and making adjustments.
According to Wired Alpha Zero’s twist, achieved through its “deep neural network architecture”, is to combine factors human players considered unimportant, such as the restriction of the opponent’s king, into a whole game strategy:
“For example, taking unusually early action to create a weakness in the opponent’s king’s position and then using this weakness as a motif throughout the rest of its play.”
If AI systems are able to look at game strategies in a different way to humans and win, it might not bode well for online poker.
In July 2019 computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University announced the development of an AI programme called Pluribus that is stronger than human professionals in Texas Hold ‘em poker.
"Pluribus achieved superhuman performance at multiplayer poker, which is a recognized milestone in artificial intelligence and in game theory that has been open for decades," explained Tuomas Sandholm, Angel Jordan Professor of Computer Science.
One of the issues for recreational poker players was coming up against skilled professional players who played the percentage game. They simply got fed up with losing - just one of the reasons why poker has been in decline in recent years.
Imagine now having to come up against Alpha Zero, Pluribus or any other form of poker playing AI software.