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Poker Academy platform used for championship

18 Jul 2007

MINNESOTA -- (PRESS RELEASE) --Poker Academy, the premier source for quality poker software, today announced it will supply the technological platform for the first $50,000 Man Versus Machine Texas Holdem Poker Championship, which will take place in Vancouver, Canada, in conjunction with the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), July 23 and 24 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.

The $50,000 Man-Machine Texas Holdem Poker Championship will pit a poker-playing computer program developed at the University of Alberta against two top-level poker professionals in a controlled scientific experiment with real money on the line. Polaris, the reigning world champion computer poker program, will challenge Phil "The Unabomber" Laak and Ali Eslami.

The Man-Machine competition will consist of four 500-hand duplicate matches. In each duplicate match, the same series of cards will be dealt in two parallel Man-Machine matches, with teammates playing the opposite hands in each game. At the end of the match, the total number of chips won or lost by each team is added together to determine the winning team. This format is used to reduce the element of random luck to a minimum, and get a much better indication of the differences in skill.

Man-Machine matches have captured the public imagination before, such as the 1997 match between IBM's "Deep Blue" chess program and Garry Kasparov, the world chess champion at the time. Technology has improved since then, and now computers are ready to face a more difficult challenge - trying to wrest supremacy from the humans at poker.

"This is a world first, and, I hope, the beginning of something that will grow and become an annual event," said Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer, chair of the University of Alberta Department of Computing Science and a team leader of the Polaris program.

"We are thrilled to be part of this exciting event and in doing so help raise the awareness of artificial intelligence in poker," said Kurt Lange, president of Poker Academy Software. "Supplying the software platform is just one of the many ways we continue the positive momentum of our longstanding relationship with the University of Alberta. What's more, the competitors and fans can rest assured knowing the match will take place in a controlled and reliable environment."

Anyone who is registered to attend AAAI 2007 in Vancouver can join the audience at the competition. The event is open to the general public. Updates to the event will be posted online as the match progresses.

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