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Robot Poker Player Wins $100,000 of GoldenPalace.com?s Money

LAS VEGAS -- Ever since IBM?s Deep Blue Supercomputer beat chess champion Garry Kasparov a few years ago, the struggle between man and machine has taken a turn towards the artificial, with poker becoming the latest game to be potentially dominated by robot intelligence.

The machines now have their very own championship tournament with the World Series Of Poker Robots at Binion?s Casino in Sin City that ran from July 12 to 20. The robots battled for three days until ?PokerProbot?, a program written by Hilton "Print" Givens of Lafayette, Indiana, emerged victorious to win the $100,000 grand prize offered by headline-grabbing online casino GoldenPalace.com.

Not everyone was pleased when the tournament was announced, with online poker players branding the tournament as essentially a cheating competition.

"I've had a lot of angry e-mail. That surprised me," said Ken Mages, the event's creator. He contested one Internet report that called him an unethical loser. "I might be a loser, but I'm not unethical."

Steve Baker, a spokesman for GoldenPalace.com, said it would be naive to think that people wouldn't use poker bots anyway. "I don't think this will change what happens," he said. Baker said the event might actually help online poker sites find ways to protect their customers.

University of Alberta professor Jonathan Schaeffer, the brains behind the computer checkers program Chinook, says that it's only a matter of time before a bot can give an expert human a good fight, as computing power and playing algorithms advance.

"I don't think that there's a program today that would be a strong favorite versus a human," Schaeffer said. But one-on-one limit hold 'em glitches can be solved, allowing a computer to play perfectly, he said. "With optimal play, you couldn't beat it, but it wouldn't make a lot of money."


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