Humans Remain the 안전놀이터Champs

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In the much awaited 안전놀이match between man and machine, man proves that he is still the best.  At the start of this week, Ali Estami and Phil Laak (the Unabomber) took on the challenge of Polaris, touted as the poker computer program that would beat human poker players.  The “First Man-Machine Poker Championship” was held in a hotel in Vancouver, Canada and lasted for four rounds.  The result? Polaris folded after four rounds.

The event was staged at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a prize money of $50,000 was offered.  Of course, to these poker pros, this prize money is not that high.  It is, in fact, peanuts.  However, the stakes were much higher than the money itself.  Was a computer program supposed to beat the likes of the Unabomber?

This concept is nothing new.  In fact, in games like chess, artificial intelligence has reigned supreme, beating the Master Kasparov.  Yet for now, poker seems to be man’s turf.  There is no doubt about it, poker is a bit more complicated than chess.  There are so many other factors that might have not have been incorporated in the creation of Polaris, such as poker tells.

After the game, the creators of Polaris admitted defeat, but only temporarily.  According to Darse Billings, a member of the Polaris team and a former professional poker player, Estami and Laak played brilliantly.  Yet, he goes on to say that “I wouldn’t be surprised if we can beat them tomorrow.”  Just when “tomorrow” is going to be, we don’t know yet.

Ethics Code Released by WPA

With all the scandals in sports today, it is very interesting that the WPA chose to release a code of ethics at this time.  It is designed to create the baseline standards for poker tournaments.  In order to be admitted to the WPA – as well as to remain – one has to adhere to the code.  It has five sections, in which acceptable behavior and such are outlined.

In order to join or remain in good standing with the WPA, existing and prospective poker players must sign a pledge, which reads:

As a condition of admission and continued membership in the World Poker Association (WPA), I pledge to support and uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct in all aspects of poker competition and tournament activities, and hereby agree to comply with the WPA Code of Ethics as developed and periodically updated by the WPA and posted on its official website,

To give you an idea of what the Code contains, here are the five sections:

  • General Provisions
  • Relationships Among Players
  • Relationships Between Players and Dealers
  • Player-Management Relationships
  • External Relationships

It seems to me that the Code has pretty much everything covered – from personal to professional conduct.  At this point, without having read the code in its totality, I totally agree with the concept.  However, with what has been happening in various sports lately, I can’t help but wonder if Codes can do the trick.  Are pledges enough or do we need something else?


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