According to Confucius, there are 3 ways we learn wisdom and intelligence:
“First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest;
and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
He may have been talking about life in general, but Confucius’ quote holds up when it comes to gambling, specifically learning how to play strategy-based games (think: blackjack, poker or Pai Gow Poker). Understanding the rules, watching other players and playing games yourself is how we all improve our gambling intelligence. Interestingly, recent developments in AI (artificial intelligence) have shown that even supercomputers capable of making tens of thousands of decisions per second need to follow the same pathway to wisdom.
While there is no wisdom that can help play chance-based games (think: roulette, slots or baccarat), the link between AI and strategy-based gambling is strong. With endless combinations of decisions to be made, strategy-based gambling games offer perfect opportunities for computer programmers to explore the nature of learned intelligence. To help illustrate, let’s take a look at some standout examples of the relationship between artificial intelligence and real gaming strategy.
An epic digital rivalry: Garry Kasparov vs. Deep Blue
We start with a rivalry. While not based on gambling per se (although people definitely placed bets on the outcome), the two-match rivalry between Chess Master Garry Kasparov and supercomputer Deep Blue captured public attention in the mid-’90s. The first was won by Kasparov. The second was won by Deep Blue. The real winner? The computer programmers who helped Deep Blue “learn” chess through countless computations and calculations.
AI tries its hand at poker
Following in the footsteps of computers like Deep Blue, computer programmers turned their sights to poker. To do this, they created a supercomputer and an algorithm that allowed it to “learn” how to play, first by making random play decisions, then gradually improving over time after recognizing which decisions led to preferable outcomes. Through this “self-play” mode, the computer ran through countless hands to create a blueprint strategy, which it then improved on by playing hands against human opponents.
A computer takes down a table full of Texas Hold’em champs
How effective can these AI blueprint strategies be in the real world? After taking out 15 professional poker champions in a game of Texas Hold’em, players and computer programmers alike claim that Pluribus—a poker-specific AI bot—has actually helped evolve poker strategy in general. According to one of the developers responsible for the win, “These AIs have really shown there’s a whole additional depth to the game that humans haven’t understood.” What that means is, the computer thought of new ways to play poker that even professional poker players hadn’t thought of before. Fascinating.
Putting it all together
So, what does it all mean? The link between AI and gambling goes to show that when it comes to strategy-based gambling, being mindful of the rules and paying attention to which decisions lead to better outcomes is the name of the game.