Hit and Run: Say Hello to our Robot Overlords and a Win a Trip to Space (Plus Other News)

Alex Weldon : March 4th, 2016
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Baby Tartanian 8 wins the Annual Computer Poker Competition. Maryland Live! wants to send you to space. Playtech may be contemplating some significant acquisitions. Casino bill shot down in Georgia. Sweden’s Lena900 crushing the online tournaments.

The bots are coming, and we can’t stop them

The results are in for the 10th Annual Computer Poker Competition, and the team behind last year’s champion, Tartanian7, have defended their title with the help of their bot’s latest iteration. This is despite having had to scale down Tartanian8 to meet the competition guidelines, producing a variant known as Baby Tartanian8.

Tartanian7 and 8 come from the same team that made “Claudico,” a name that is probably more familiar to most in the poker community, as that was what the bot that challenged four top human heads-up players in a match last year. Although the humans won, they didn’t win by much (a “statistical tie,” the team behind the bot claimed). Tartanian8 is certainly stronger than its predecessor, so having bested its digital competition, a new challenge to the human poker world may be forthcoming.

Interestingly, Tartanian8 actually lost in its direct match-up with the ultimate second-place finisher, Slumbot, but won the competion regardless, due to having extracted greater profit from the weaker bots than did Slumbot. It’s possible, then, that Slumbot might actually be stronger than Tartanian8 when facing top-notch human competition. Either way, the steady improvement of poker AI is bad news for online poker, though far from unexpected.

Update: Eric Jackson, with whom PartTimePoker did an interview last year, is the creator of Slumbot. He contacted us to clarify that the Computer Poker Competition actually consists of two separate contests, “Total Bankroll” and “Instant Runoff,” and that while Baby Tartanian8 won the Total Bankroll competition as reported by PokerNews, Slumbot won the Instant Runoff competition. Which bot deserves to be called the strongest is therefore a matter of debate, but given that Slumbot won in direct competition with Baby Tartanian8, I’d lean towards the former. On the other hand, we don’t know how Slumbot would fare against the full power Tartanian8, unhindered by the disk space limitations imposed by competition organizers. You can play against Slumbot yourself here.

“Just one more orbit…”

If you feel the need to flee from poker’s imminent robot apocalypse, Maryland Live! Casino might be your destination of choice. Aside from the fact that a live gambling venue will keep you safe from the bots for the time being, the state’s largest casino is offering an unusual promotion in which its gamblers stand to win one of four $75,000 tickets for a recreational flight to outer space. We’ve certainly all encountered opponents at the poker table that we’d like to see launched into space, but personally, I think I’d rather if they just gave me the $75,000.

Quick Hitters

- Playtech, owners of the iPoker network, have apparently had a good year and are reportedly contemplating some unspecified acquisitions. PokerNews speculates they may even have their eye on PokerStars owner Amaya, a company whose financial saga just keeps getting weirder.

- Dietrich Fast has won the $10,000 L.A. Poker Classic, one of the most prestigious events on the World Poker Tour. His take from the win is just a hair over an even million.

- Are you thinking about attending your first World Series of Poker this summer? PokerUpdate has some tips to avoid looking like too much of a fish.

- Bad, but not unexpected news for would-be Georgia gamblers, as the conservative-leaning state’s House of Representatives has scrapped a bill that would have opened the door for four casinos to operate there.

- Swedes continue to dominate online, as Niklas “lena900″ Astedt wins the PocketFives Tournament Leaderboard for the second month in a row.

Get your daily dose of poker news with the PTP Hit and Run.

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