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Jul 21 2005 / Aaron

Las Vegas Part III: The Aftermath

Well, I got back from Sin City late on Saturday night and have finally caught back up on my sleep. The World Poker Robot Championship went well overall. It didn’t go to well for the UofA exhibition matches. Unfortunately, the WPRC event was optimized for entertainment and not for meaningful results. Luck played a dominant role in the outcome. UofA entered Poki-X in an exhibition against the WPRC winner. Poki-X was leading through most of the match, but once the blinds got really big it basically became a random coin-toss to decide the winner.

Afterwards Phil Laak played both pokerprobot (the WPRC champ) and Poki-X in some short heads-up matches. Phill was GREAT. He was very animated and talked through each decision aloud giving the audience a great show of what goes through a top-notch player’s mind. Given the small number of hands played and the rapidly escalating blinds, luck played a dominant role in both matches. Phill easily won both of them. Ahh well, there’s always next time.

My overall impressions of Las Vegas are mixed. On the one side, it was a grand spectacle. On the flip side it was a monstrosity; a grandiose display of the vast amounts of disposable income Americans have dumped into the middle of the desert. It’s kind of ridiculous to have such a huge city in a place that is 110 degrees outside and constantly pumped up with AC indoors. Of course you cna also say it’s pretty loony to have a city like Edmonton where it’s well below zero for half the year and we have our furnaces going full blast the whole time…

As I suspected it was difficult to eat well while down there. After 11 days trapped in one of three different monster casinos (The Orleans, The Rio, and Binion’s) with limited culinary options, I was glad to be back home to my vegetables. I was relieved to learn I only gained 2 pounds while down there. I was expecting it to be a lot worse after all the buffets and monster portions of everything, free booze, and so on. The portion sizes were amazing. I would order a harmless looking ‘Cobb Salad’ for dinner and I’d be given a salad the size of my torso. It would come piled high with cheese, turkey, bacon, and egg bits. I’m glad I asked for the dressing on the side — it came in a gravy boat. It seemed like 90% of everyone down there was overweight, and not just a little overweight. Obesity was the norm. Given the food choices I had available, I am not surprised. I ordered a salmon dish one night. I pretty much got an entire salmon. What you eat in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas.


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  1. Koji / Aug 4 2005

    Why did the organizers of the World Computer Poker Championship choose a format that allows short term luck to have such an impact on the winner? I’m sure this is a PR fiasco for the company… I would really love to know if Poki-X can win in the long run against pokerprobot which, if the website is any indication, is much less sophisticated. Did it even try to do opponent modeling? Do you know or can you say what types of approaches each competing bot was using?

  2. darse / Aug 28 2005

    Aaron and I came up with the format, because the one they were planning to use was much worse…

    There is simply no way to get a scientifically significant result from playing less than a thousand hands of poker, so the reality is that you may as well at least try to maximize the entertainment value. The whole event was primarily for PR, not science, and it was fabulously successful for that. No one cares that the outcomes are almost entirely due to luck (no one but us, that is).

    We have since done a thorough analysis of the matches, using a tool that measures the quality of each decision directly (basically filtering out most of the luck aspect). As expected, both Phil and Poki-X outplayed pokerprobot by a wide margin. In the match against each other, they played close to dead even, but the luck was very one-sided in Phil’s favour.

    We plan to post a detailed analysis of the matches to the UofA CPRG webpage, eventually.
    Incidentally, Aaron is being very modest in his description of the Vegas events — he put in a _heroic_ effort to make the event the great success that it was. Aaron, you never cease to amaze me.


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