[Editor's note: The 'Bluffbot' program mentioned here is not in any way affiliated with Bluff Magazine.]
The recent, much-hyped 'Man-Machine Poker Championship' match-up pitting pros Phil Laak and Ali Eslami against a software program named Polaris might have drawn plenty of poker-media coverage, but it wasn't the only result from this year's University of Alberta's recent Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence [AAAI] Computer Poker Competition.
The competition also offered three machine-only categories, including one for no-limit, which was won by Teppo Salonen's 'BluffBot 2.0'. Programs developed by Carnegie-Mellon University and the hosting University of Alberta finished second and third, respectively. Salonen, a native of Finland who moved to the U.S. in 2000 and spent several years as a sports bettor, improved his program's performance from a second-place finish the year before..
Bluffbot, which in its original version was a limit-only program, triumphed in its heads-up matches against the other nine no-limit entries, though it did not achieve the "highest average bankroll" (assumed to be competition's term for rate of big blinds won) for its hands; that honor was claimed by Hyperborean07, the U. of Alberta's third-place entry. Bluffbot apparently succeeded against its even more automated counterparts by mixing a fair number of bluffs with frequently changing bet sizes.
That said, while Bluffbot 2.0 might be good enough to win the AAAI's no-limit category --- remember, one of the programs had to --- it's still unlikely that it or any similar program would be a serious threat to poker any time soon. A California newspaper story quotes Bluffbot 'sparring partner' Jay Cordes as saying BluffBot is not yet advanced enough to consistently beat experienced poker players. "It can beat some of them, but it can't beat a top human player yet," said Cordes. "I would say it's maybe at a semi-pro status, but it is the strongest bot. It's a starting point."
However, the bot's own home page is a bit more frank, stating, "BluffBot 2.0 can give even experienced poker players a run for their money - at least before they start figuring out certain counter strategies the bots are still vulnerable to some degree." In any event, the code behind Bluffbot 2.0 is for academic research only, not for public consumption.