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Poker Bot World Champion
In the 2006 competition (held at the 21st National Conference on Artificial Intelligence) the first version of BluffBot finished in the 2nd place in limit Hold 'em competition beating such opponents as GS2 by Carnegie Mellon University and Monash BPP by Monash University, losing only to University of Alberta's Hyperborean.
In 2007, BluffBot 2.0 went undefeated and took a convincing 1st place victory in the no-limit Hold 'em competition beating all other opponents, including Hyperborean07 by University of Alberta, GS3 by Carnegie Mellon University, as well as bots from Gomel State University, Milano Polytechnic, University of Manitoba and University of Minnesota to name a few.
In 2008, BluffBot 3.0 took the 2nd place in the heads-up no limit Hold'em competition beating entries from Carnegie Mellon University and University of Ballarat, and losing only to University of Alberta's Hyperborean.
The 2009 Computer Poker Competition results will be announced at International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in July 11th. The new BluffBot 4.0 is among the competitors in the heads-up no limit Hold'em series.
Free Poker Game
While BluffBot will not be made available for download, a free web based application allowing you to play BluffBot 4.0 can be found here: Play BluffBot 4.0
Does BluffBot Really Bluff?
Absolutely! Any effective poker strategy requires a balanced use of bluffing and value betting. Contrary to common beliefs, computer programs utilizing game theory are in fact often better bluffers than most humans.
The AI (artificial intelligence) used in all BluffBot versions is a non-adaptive expert system designed using the principles of game theory. This approach makes a good practical use of variety of known expert strategies exploiting weaker opponents while at the same time effectively defending itself against exploitation from adaptive opponents.
Can It Beat Human Players?
BluffBot can give even experienced poker players a run for their money - at least until they start figuring out certain counter strategies the bot is still vulnerable to some degree.
The real question is, however, when will BluffBot (or any other no-limit AI for that matter) start consistently beating the top professionals? Personally, I have no doubt in my mind that it's just a matter of time until bots will be able to beat all human poker players. It's already starting to happen in limit hold 'em in the form of University of Alberta's SparBot/Hyperborean/Polaris bots. And it might not be too long until no-limit bots also evolve to the expert level by any human standards.
Can You Beat BluffBot Yourself?
Actually, I haven't played BluffBot large enough number of hands to have a definite answer, but as the bot's designer I should be able to exploit it's known weaknesses enough to beat it.
However, I do believe that given enough time I would be able to create bots that play better poker than I do. This is due to the simple fact that knowing how to play and actually doing it at the table are two different things for humans but for computers they are really one and the same. A computer is able to execute it's strategies flawlessly without going on tilt or making other random mistakes. And without physical tells playing "perfect poker" really comes down to knowing and applying the right math for example in a form of game theory.
What Is Spartacus?
Spartacus was a code name used in 2007-2008 during the development of experimental AI technology that later became BluffBot 3.0.
What Is The Future Of BluffBot?
For any future versions some of the first improvements would be better pseudo-optimal strategies as well as adding adaptive strategies to better exploit weaker opponents.
Creating an AI for multiplayer ring games is also a possible future direction, as would be moving to other poker variations (e.g. Omaha).
Texas Holdem Strategy - Heads-Up No Limit Holdem
To learn more about the strategies behind BluffBot 2.0 (2007 version), you can sign up for the BluffBot.com newsletter on the top left corner of this page.
When creating the first BluffBot version that finished 2nd in the 2006 AAAI limit competition, the only "sparring help" I got was BioTools' Poker Academy Pro software and especially their game theory based SparBot. SparBot was already a world class heads-up limit Hold 'em player and strong enough to compete with top human players.
For no-limit Hold'em however, sparring bots as strong as SparBot did not exist yet and extensive human testing was done in addition to the bot vs. bot match-ups.
BluffBot 2.0's main sparring partner was Jay Cordes who spent countless hours playing hundreds of dealt poker hands playing and providing feedback for further optimization of the strategies. Valuable last minute tips were also provided by professional poker player and PokerZion.com founder John Anhalt (aka "Freakdaddy") prior to entering the 2007 AAAI competition. He took the time to play BluffBot 2.0 and give his professional advice and suggestions despite being busy preparing for the 2007 World Series of Poker.
I have also received a lot of feedback from a number of people who have played BluffBot/Spartacus on this website. I apologize for not being able to individually name all the people who have emailed me throughout the year, but I am greatful for all the comments I have received and learned from.
Last but definitely not least, I owe huge thanks to both Larry Jacobson and Ilkka Huotari for helping me build the free online poker game available on this website. Their expertise in different web technologies exceeded mine far and away and I couldn't have finished the project without their help.
The people and groups of people mentioned above have my sincerest thanks for their influence and contributions to this project as well as for poker AI research in general.
About The BluffBot Author
Teppo Salonen received his MS in applied mathematics from the University of Helsinki, Finland. He was a professional sports bettor from 2000 until moving to United States and Los Angeles in 2005 where he now works as an analyst. Salonen started researching poker as a hobby in 2005 and enjoys playing in the local small stakes Hold 'em games with his wife and friends.
Contrary to misinformation in the media, BluffBot is created by an individual developer.