Pluribus is the first AI bot capable of beating human experts in six-player no-limit Hold'em, the most widely played poker format in the world. This is the first time an AI bot has beaten top human players in a complex game with more than two players or two teams. We tested Pluribus against professional poker players, including two winners of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Pluribus succeeds because it can very efficiently handle the challenges of a game with both hidden information and more than two players. It uses self-play to teach itself how to win, with no examples or guidance on strategy. Pluribus uses far fewer computing resources than the bots that have defeated humans in other games. The bot's success will advance AI research, because many important AI challenges involve many players and hidden information. For decades, poker has been a difficult and important grand challenge problem for the field of AI.
In recent years there have been great strides in artificial intelligence (AI), with games often serving as challenge problems, benchmarks, and milestones for progress. Poker has served for decades as such a challenge problem. Past successes in such benchmarks, including poker, have been limited to two-player games. However, poker in particular is traditionally played with more than two players. Multiplayer games present fundamental additional issues beyond those in two-player games, and multiplayer poker is a recognized AI milestone. In this paper we present Pluribus, an AI that we show is stronger than top human professionals in six-player no-limit Texas hold'em poker, the most popular form of poker played by humans. Poker has served as a challenge problem for the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and game theory for decades (1). In fact, the foundational papers on game theory used poker to illustrate their concepts (2, 3). The reason for this choice is simple: no other popular recreational game captures the challenges of hidden information as effectively and as elegantly as poker. Although poker has been useful as a benchmark for new AI and game-theoretic techniques, the challenge of hidden information in strategic settings is not limited to recreational games.
Computer scientists have developed a card-playing bot, called Pluribus, capable of defeating some of the world's best players at six-person no-limit Texas hold'em poker, in what's considered an important breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Two years ago, a research team from Carnegie Mellon University developed a similar poker-playing system, called Libratus, which consistently defeated the world's best players at one-on-one Heads-Up, No-Limit Texas Hold'em poker. The creators of Libratus, Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown, have now upped the stakes, unveiling a new system capable of playing six-player no-limit Texas hold'em poker, a wildly popular version of the game. In a series of contests, Pluribus handedly defeated its professional human opponents, at a level the researchers described as "superhuman." When pitted against professional human opponents with real money involved, Pluribus managed to collect winnings at an astounding rate of $1,000 per hour.
Among the many achievements of machine learning in recent years, some of the most striking are the victories of the machine against human players in games, such as Google's DeepMind group's conquest of Go in 2016. In such milestones, researchers are often guided by theoretical math that says there can be an optimal strategy to be found, given a good algorithm and enough compute. But what do you do when theory breaks down? Two researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook went back to the drawing board to solve "heads-up no-limit Texas hold'em," the most popular form of multiplayer poker in the world. Theory isn't computable for this form of the card game, so they designed some elegant search strategies for their computer program, "Pluribus," to beat the best human players in 10,000 hands of poker.
Artificial intelligence has finally cracked the biggest challenge in poker: beating top professionals in six-player no-limit Texas Hold'Em, the most popular variant of the game. Over 20,000 hands of online poker, the AI beat fifteen of the world's top poker players, each of whom has won more than $1 million USD playing the game professionally. The AI, called Pluribus, was tested in 10,000 games against five human players, as well as in 10,000 rounds where five copies of Pluribus played against one professional – and did better than the pros in both. Pluribus was developed by Noam Brown of Facebook AI Research and Tuomas Sandholm at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. It is an improvement on their previous poker-playing AI, called Libratus, which in 2017 outplayed professionals at Heads-Up Texas Hold'Em, a variant of the game that pits two players head to head.