Apparently, Cepheus is unbeatable in heads-up Limit Hold’em. The bot’s inventor, Michael Bowling, even goes as far as to say that Limit Hold’em is “solved” thanks to his program. It wasn’t easy for Bowling to create such a skilled bot, though, since he poured years into this project. Of course, anything good takes time and Cepheus is more than good, as Bowling explained to NPR with the following:
“It’s just a tiny bit off. And that tiny bit is so small that even if you played a lifetime — 12 hours a day, 200 hands an hour for 70 years — you still wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from having played a perfect game.”
It’s certainly scary to think of being on the internet Limit Hold’em tables and running into a bot like Cepheus. This is especially the case when you consider that this machine has played over a billion poker hands – with stellar results too! But if there’s one chink in the armor here, it’s the fact that Cepheus can’t adapt. The Guardian explained this through the following excerpt:
Until now, all of the major games that have been “solved” by computers are “perfect-information games” such as chess and checkers where the full history of the game is known to each player.
Poker and other card games are known as imperfect-information games and are much harder for computers to master because each player has only a limited amount of information on which to base their decisions.
Even still, in a game of Limit Hold’em, University of Albert researchers believe that their bot will beat any pro over a long enough time period. In fact, the bot only gets better with each hand that it plays. But if you fear online poker being taken over by Cepheus clones, don’t be. Those involved with the project have been very careful not to release any information on this particular bot.