Online poker is dead: Pluribus conquers 6-max No-Limit Hold’em


It’s official, online poker is dead after artificial intelligence, from the bright minds working at Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook AI Labs, defeats humans and algorithms alike in No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed. 

Rob Yong said he wouldn’t play online poker anywhere other than partypoker’s Trickett’s Room. Henrik Hecklen told me that he couldn’t trust online poker any longer. You get the impression that our favourite pastime is sitting on the edge of a pier with that familiar urge to jump, only there are sharks below chewing on chum.

online-poker-is-dead-pluribus-conquers-6-max-no-limit-holdemUnder Yong’s orders, partypoker issues a monthly press release updating the poker community on the culling of bot-controlled accounts. It does so because Yong believes the presence of artificial intelligence (AI) in online poker (be it bots, or third-party software) is as attractive to newcomers as a pirate with both arms and legs, no eye patch, and a flamingo (instead of a parrot), that doesn’t talk.

So, this doesn’t help.

A new AI, created by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook’s AI lab, has beaten some of the world’s best players in No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed action.

Over 12 days, and 10,000 hands, Pluribus came out ahead during two experiments against people who can wear belts, pick fresh basil, and grow a beard. In one, the AI beat five other human beings, and in a second, Pluribus squared off against a single human being, and four AI opponents. According to the research paper, the AI won an average of $5 per hand with hourly winnings of around $1,000. The research team called the win a “decisive margin of victory.”

And Pluribus didn’t face off against your usual crop of poker playing tools (Ok, maybe one). Check out this lineup of heroes: Jimmy Chou, Seth Davies, Michael Gagliano, Anthony Gregg, Dong Kim, Jason Les, Linus Loeliger, Daniel McAulay, Greg Merson, Nicholas Petrangelo, Sean Ruane, Trevor Savage, and Jacob Toole.

Facing Pluribus on their lonesome was the king of the World Poker Tour (WPT), Darren Elias, and the king of controversy, Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson. The bot sent Elias and Ferguson flying into the rail like a leaf in the way of a STIGA SBP375 Petrol-Powered Back Leaf Blower, with Elias telling the press that it was ‘pretty scary’ how fast the bot went from being a mediocre player to world-class. Ferguson said the challenge with Pluribus was ‘pinning him down on any kind of hand.’

I don’t know what’s more incredible, the fact that Pluribus conquered 6-Max, or that the research team pinned Ferguson down on “any kind of quote.”

The cigarette-smoking man behind the assassination of online poker is Noam Brown, the man who helped Tuomas Sandholm create Libratus, the bot that beat players of the ilk of Jason Les and Dong Kim playing Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em, back in 2017. Brown has no intention of letting Pluribus out of the garden shed to kill online poker, but given the fact that it only cost Brown $150 to train the program using cloud servers, I would consider forking out for an ABUS Aquasafe 70IB/35 Marine Grade Padlock, just in case—otherwise, online poker is dead.