Four of the best professional poker players in the world – Dong Kim, Jason Les, Jimmy Chou, and Daniel McAulay – recently got beat by Libratus, a poker-playing AI developed at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. During a period of 20 days of continuous play (10h/day), each of these four professionals lost to Libratus heads-up in a whopping total of 120.000 hands of No Limit Texas Hold-em Poker.

A player may face 10 to the power of 160 different situations in Texas Hold-em Poker: more than the number of atoms in the universe. It took extensive machine learning to compute and prioritize the computation of the most rewarding actions in these situations. Libratus works by running extensive simulations, taking into account the way the professionals play, and figuring out the best counter strategy. Although it is not without flaws, any “holes” the players found in Libratus’ strategy could not be exploited for long, as the algorithm would quickly learn and adapt to prevent further exploitation. The experience was completely different from playing a human player, the professionals argue, as Libratus would make both tiny and huge bets and would continuously change its strategy and plays.

The video below provides more detailed information and also shows the million-dollar margin by which Libratus won at the end of the twenty day poker (training) marathon: