Nifty iPhone Poker App

It’s called THETA Poker and it lets you play No Limit Texas Hold’em on the iPhone. You play against a range of surprisingly subtle AI players, each with their own characteristics.

It’s highly playable. And perfect for passing time on public transport or in a doctor’s surgery.

This game got me thinking about what it would take to make a good AI poker player.

The danger of any computer game where you play against a computer-controlled player is that you quickly learn the style of that player, and develop a counter-style. You become adept at beating the computer but not necessarily at beating real life players. Real life players adapt to your counter-style and develop a counter-counter-style.

It would be fun to be a computer science honours student these days. If that were me, my honours project would be developing an adaptive AI poker player that measures up each opponent and alters its play accordingly. It would also add a random factor to particular plays. And would modify its playing style every so often, to confuse the humans. Tight-aggressive for 10 hands or so, then Loose-Aggressive for another 10 hands or so. A few rounds of obsessive blind-stealing, then backing off for a few rounds.

It could be that every second CS honours student is already doing this – and then unleashing it as a bot on the world of online poker.

Disclaimer: The creator of THETA Poker and I did a “you can have my software if I can have yours” arrangement.