Cracking the Code – Understanding the Inner Workings of Poker Analyzers

The universe is full of coded secrets – enigmas that hold top-secret military information, Einstein’s universe-defining equations, ancient wisdom lost in indecipherable languages and messages from the Mafia. Cracking the Code brings you the stories behind these great codes and the brilliant minds that cracked them.

In a paper published in Science, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University explain how they built an artificial intelligence that defeated four top professional poker players. The system, named Libratus, uses three different approaches to master a poker game with more decision points than there are atoms in our universe.

First, it analyzes the game’s rules, the player’s tendencies and the game’s history to determine an expected value for each hand. It then compares the value with the actual outcomes to determine how much a player should bet and when to fold. Then it calculates “blueprints” of how to perform the hand based upon this probability, and executes that plan.

Finally, the software also keeps track of what’s already been played and how much money has been won or lost in each hand. This allows the software to identify opportunities for future wins and losses.

Its ability to identify patterns of video poker play in a casino sets it apart from competitors. Acres says it can help casino re-adjust marketing strategies by allowing casinos to stop looking at video poker players as a big unquantified group and start targeting high margin players in order for them to participate in cash back and promotional offers.