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Will a poker bot beat the best human players at online multi-player No Limit Texas HoldEm?

Human beings are no longer the best players of the games of Chess or Go, but humans are still fighting the good fight on the poker table. Simple variants of poker have been conquered by the bots, but more complex versions are still being defended.

Texas HoldEm is the most popular form of poker, and its simplest variant (Heads-up Limit HoldEm) is widely believed to have been solved, with poker programs consistently outperforming human players. This variant is simple in two ways: "Heads-up" means that there are only two players at the table, and "Limit" means that bets and raises can only be made in fixed amounts, with a limited number of reraises.

The least restricted version of HoldEm is multi-player No Limit Holdem, where there are multiple players at a table, and bets/reraises can range freely between a minimum amount and the entire amount of a player's chips. To date in 2016, humans have eked out narrow victories in Heads-up No Limit Holdem, and no computer program has as yet made a serious showing in a multi-player No Limit HoldEm challenge.

This dominance of the felt by humans is no doubt temporary, and victory by the machines is inevitable. When will humans be forced to acknowledge not only that they are descended from fish, but that fish they remain (as far as silicon-based sharks are concerned)?

This question will resolve positively if by the end of 2018 there is an publicly-announced online poker challenge that pits multiple expert human players (at least 5) against a single poker bot for a cash-game match of a pre-declared number of hands that exceeds 10,000, and the bot comes out ahead of all human players.

Additional stipulations:

  • All the human players in the challenge must be in either the top 100 of the Hendon Mob all-time money list or the top 100 of the Hendon Mob Global Poker Index Ranking at the time of play.

  • If multiple challenges are conducted, and the automated player loses the first one, then victory for the bots will not be declared until bots have won a majority of such challenges to date. (This attempts to correct for intrinsic variance, so that a bot cannot simply keep entering such challenges until it gets lucky.)

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