American Poker Awards


[SS] “The Global Poker Index may have started as just a way for the Epic Poker League to rank poker players,” Stan the Stat began, “but it continues to expand its universe. Last year, it created the Global Poker League, but the year before, in February 2015, the group bestowed the inaugural American Poker Awards for achievements in 2014.”

[LL] “And I thought Google was just an Internet search company and didn’t buy into its IPO”, Leroy the Lion admitted.

[SS] “Growing faster than the World Series of Poker, the American Poker Awards included 10 categories initially, which leaped to 15 in the second year, and increased 18 this time.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.”

American Poker Awards Winners, 2014 to 2016

Year 2014 2015 2016
Date February 27, 2015 February 25, 2016 (same day as GPL draft) February 23, 2017 (with American Poker Conference)
Location SLS Hotel (Beverly Hills, CA) SLS Hotel (Beverly Hills, CA) Sofitel Hotel (Beverly Hills, CA)
# of Awards 10 15 18
Breakout Performance of the Year1 Brandon Shack-Harris Joshua Beckley Maurice Hawkins
Industry Person of the Year WPT President Adam Pliska Matt Savage, TDA Founder, WPT Executive Director Sean McCormack, ARIA Director of Poker Operations
Media Person of the Year2 Online Poker Report’s Chris Grove Donnie Peters, Editor-In-Chief, Pokernews.Com Joseph Stapleton
Tournament Performance of the Year Mark Newhouse In WSOP Main Event Anthony Zinno, WPT L.A. Poker Classic Ari Engel, Aussie Millions Main Event
Media Content of the Year Brad Willis For PokerStars Blog’s “WSOP 2014: Stages / Never Stop Fighting” Joe Giron’s Elimination Photo of Daniel Negreanu in WSOP Main Event Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey (Lance Bradley, PocketFives)
Event of the Year3 World Series of Poker Main Event WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, Hollywood, Fl Super High Roller Bowl, ARIA, Las Vegas
Event of the Year (<=$2,000) WSOP Monster Stack WSOP Colossus, Rio All-Suites Hotel And Casino, Las Vegas
Charitable Initiative of the Year All In For Kids Poker Tournament Presented By Chop & WPT Foundation Charity Series of Poker, Matt Stout Dan Smith
Poker Innovation or Initiative of the Year4 Twitch For Live Streaming Poker WSOP Online Bracelet Event
Lifetime Achievement Award World Poker Tour Founder Steve Lipscomb Mike Sexton Mori Eskandani
GPI Player of the Year Dan Colman Byron Kaverman David Peters
GPI Female Player of the Year Vanessa Selbst Kelly Minkin Cate Hall
Poker’s Best Ambassador Daniel Negreanu
Moment of the Year Daniel Negreanu Busts 11th In WSOP Main Event Jason Mercier goes on historic one-week heater at the World Series of Poker
Jury Award Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers Matt Savage
Poker Presenter of the Year Kara Scott
GPI World Series of Poker Player of the Year Jason Mercier
Mid-Major Circuit of the Year WSOP Circuit
Twitch Streamer of the Year5 Jason Somerville (“jcarverpoker”)
Podcast of the Year Poker Life Podcast (Joe Ingram)
PocketFives Legacy Award Cliff Josephy
Hendon Mob Award John Holley

Notes:

  • Daniel Negreanu, who was the only person to win an award in both 2014 and 2015, was nominated for Podcast of the Year (Full Contact Poker) in 2016 but didn’t win.
  • Matt Savage collected his second award, receiving the Jury Prize for 2016 after being named Industry Person of the Year for 2015.

Footnotes:

  1. Originally called “Breakout Player of the Year” in 2014, this award goes to a player who had never won a major poker title before the year.
  2. “Poker Presenter of the Year”, which only existed in 2015, was merged back into the “Media Person of the Year” category.
  3. This was two awards, for events up to $2,000 and over $2,000 in 2014 and 2015.
  4. This was called “Poker Innovation of the Year” in 2014.
  5. This was split into a separate category from “Media Person of the Year” in 2016.

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Machine vs. Machine Texas Hold ‘Em Matches


[SS] “Even if computers have no problem defeating the best humans in the future, they’ll still be able to compete against each other to see who’s best”, Stan the Stat segued. “The first major machine vs. machine poker contest was held in the summer of 2004 at the International Conference on Cognitive Modeling. The not-so-serious World Poker Robot Championship followed in 2005, then the Annual Computer Poker Competition, the de facto world championship, began in 2006.”

Machine vs. Machine Texas Hold ‘Em Tournaments

Dates Tournament Winning Program Second Place Third Place Format Notes
2004/07/30 to 2004/08/01 International Conference on Cognitive Modeling PokerBot Competition Ace Gruber
(Univ. of Toronto)
44 wins in 104 tournaments (42%)
Carleton
(Terrence C. Stewart & Robert West, Carleton Univ.)
28 wins (27%)
Dbot
(Dan Bothell, Carnegie Mellon Univ.)
14 wins (13%)
5-Player No Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament
Starting Stacks: 10,000 chips
Blinds: 10/20, Doubling every 100 hands
Each bot had only 100 seconds per 100 actions.
DumbBot (Richard Carter, University of Edinburgh) was only one game out of third place, while YesterdaySushi (Maxim Makatchev, Univ. of Pittsburgh) brought up the rear.
2005/07/12 to 2005/07/14 World Poker Robot Championship1 PokerProbot
(Hilton Givens)
Catfish
(Roger Gabriel)
unknown
(the other competitors were Benbot, BlackShark, gobot, and HoldemMemory)
6-Player Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament PokerProbot, which won $100,000, then stacked Poki-X in 886 hands in a heads-up exhibition match with 15,000-chip starting stacks and escalating blinds starting at 100/200.2
2006 to present AAAI3 Annual Computer Poker Competition Various
(see next table)
Various
(see next table)
Various
(see next table)
Limit and No Limit Hold ‘Em The competition, which has been held annually except for 2015, began when Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Alberta wanted to test their bots against each other and found three others for the first event in Boston in 2006.

AAAI Annual Computer Poker Competition

Year Format4 Entries Winner5 Second Place Third Place Notes
2006 HU LHE Total Bankroll 4 Hyperborean06 BluffBot Monash-BPP 7 seconds per hand. Teddy 4th.
2006 HU LHE Series Competition 4 Hyperborean06 BluffBot GS2 60 seconds per hand. Teddy 4th.
2007 HU LHE Online 33 Hyperborean07 Online2 Hyperborean07 Online1 GS3
2007 HU LHE Equilibrium 33 Hyperborean07 Online2 IanBot GS3
2007 HU NLHE Bankroll Competition 10 BluffBot2.0 GS3 Hyperborean07
2008 HU LHE Bankroll 9 GS4-Beta Hyperborean08-Online Hyperborean08-Equilibrium 60,000-hand matches. Fell Omen 2 4th.
2008 HU LHE Wins 9 Hyperborean08-Equilibrium Hyperborean08-online
Fell Omen 2
GGValuta
Hyperborean went 8-0; the other three medalists tied at 6-2.
2008 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 4 Hyperborean08 BluffBot 3.0 Tartanian2-Beta 100,000-hand matches; Ballarat 4th.
2008 6-Player LHE Ring Game 6 Poki0 AKI-RealBot DCU CMURing-Prototype 4th.
2009 HU LHE Bankroll 13 MANZANA Hyperborean-BR GGValuta 75 3,000-hand matches between each bot (then another 45 as tiebreakers). Hyperborean-Eqm 4th (by a tiny amount).
2009 HU LHE Runoff 13 GGValuta Hyperborean-Eqm MANZANA Rockhopper 4th.
2009 HU NLHE Bankroll 5 HyperboreanNL-BR HyperboreanNL-Eqm BluffBot4 60 3,000-hand matches between each bot. Tartanian3RM 4th.
2009 HU NLHE Runoff 5 Hyperborean-Eqm Hyperborean-BR BluffBot4 Tartanian3RM 4th, Tartanian3 5th
2009 3-Player LHE Bankroll 7 Hyperborean3p.TBR.2009 HyperboreanRing-BR akuma 110 1,000-hand matches without two bots from the same team; 40 1,000-hand matches with teammates.
2009 3-Player LHE Runoff 7 Hyperborean3p.IRO.2009 HyperboreanRing-BR dpp
2010 HU LHE Total Bankroll 13 PULPO Hyperborean.tbr Sartre Rockhopper 4th.
2010 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 13 Rockhopper GGValuta Hyperborean.iro Slumbot 4th.
2010 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 5 Tartanian4.tbr PokerBotSLO Hyperborean.tbr SartreNL 4th.
2010 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean.iro SartreNL Tartanian4.iro PokerBotSLO 4th.
2010 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 5 Hyperborean3p.TBR.2010 Little.Rock Bender
2010 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean3p.IRO.2010 dcu3pl.iro Little.Rock
2011 HU LHE Total Bankroll 19 Calamari Sartre Hyperborean-2011-2p-limit-tbr
2011 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 19 Hyperborean-2011-2p-limit-iro Slumbot Calamari Sartre 4th.
2011 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 7 Lucky7 SartreNL Hyperborean-2011-2p-nolimit-tbr
2011 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 7 Hyperborean-2011-2p-nolimit-iro SartreNL Hugh
2011 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 9 Sartre3p Hyperborean-2011-3p-limit-tbr AAIMontybot
Little.Rock
2011 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 8 Hyperborean-2011-3p-limit-iro Sartre3p Little.Rock
2012 HU LHE Total Bankroll 13 Slumbot Little.Rock
Zbot
3,000-hand matches. Yperborean.tb4 4th, basically tied with patience.
2012 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 13 Slumbot Hyperborean Zbot Little.Rock 4th.
2012 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 11 Little.Rock Hyperborean Tartanian5 neo.poker.lab 4th.
2012 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 11 Hyperborean Tartanian5 Neo Poker Bot little.rock 4th.
2012 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 5 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot
Sartre
2012 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot
Sartre
2013 HU LHE Total Bankroll 13 Marv Feste
Hyperborean
zbot 4th.
2013 HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 11 Neo Poker Lab Hyperborean Zbot
Marv
2013 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 13 Slumbot
Hyperborean
Tartanian6
nyx 4th, basically tied with koypetition.
2013 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 13 Hyperborean Slumbot Tartanian6
Nyx
2013 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 6 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot HITSZ_CS_13 4th.
2013 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 6 Hyperborean Little.Rock Neo Poker Bot kempfer 4th.
2014 HU LHE Total Bankroll 10 Escabeche SmooCT Hyperborean
Feste
HU LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff not held.
2014 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 14 Tartanian7 Nyx
Prelude
Slumbot 4th.
2014 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 14 Tartanian7 Prelude
Hyperborean
Slumbot 4th.
2014 3-Player LHE Total Bankroll 5 Hyperborean SmooCT KEmpfer HITSZ_CS_14 4th.
2014 3-Player LHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 5 Hyperborean SmooCT KEmpfer HITSZ_CS_14 4th.
2016 HU NLHE Total Bankroll 11 Baby Tartanian8 Slumbot
Act1
HU LHE and 3-Player LHE weren’t held. Nyx TBR 4th.
2016 HU NLHE Bankroll Instant Runoff 11 Baby Tartanian8 Slumbot Act1 Nyx IRO 4th.

Footnotes:

  1. The event was originally called the World Series of Poker Robots but had to be changed due to trademark issues.
  2. The match was very close, however. On three separate occasions, Poki-X, which was deemed too strong to play in the tournament, was up by more big blinds than the final margin of the game.
  3. AAAI is short for the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
  4. The two current ACPC formats are:
    • Total Bankroll: place determined by total chips after all matches have been played
    • Instant Runoff: the bot with the lowest total bankroll is eliminated after each round

    Early contests also included a “series” competition, which was a round robin.

    Most events have been heads-up (HU) or 3-Player, but a 6-Player event was included in 2008 and seems likely to return in 2017. Only Limit Hold ‘Em (LHE) and No Limit Hold ‘Em (NLHE) events are included in the table. A Kuhn Poker (simplified game) has also been played a few times.

  5. Here is the complete list of developers sorted by bot and developer name. Variations on bot names are not listed.

    Bots that have medaled:

    • AAIMontybot: Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic)
    • Act1: Unfold Poker (U.S.)
    • AKI-RealBot: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • akuma: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Bender: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • BluffBot: Teppo Salonen
    • Calamari: Marv Anderson (U.K.)
    • DCU: Dublin City University (Ireland)
    • dpp: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Escabeche: Marv Anderson (U.K.)
    • Feste: Francois Pays (France)
    • GGValuta: University of Bucharest (Romania)
    • GS2: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
    • Hugh: anonymous famous mathematician and top online heads-up player (U.S. and Canada)
    • Hyperborean: University of Alberta (Canada)
    • KEmpfer: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Little.Rock: Rod Byrnes (Australia)
    • MANZANA: Marv Anderson (U.K.)
    • mcBotUltra: Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)
    • Neo Poker Bot: Alexander Lee (Spain)
    • Nyx: Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic)
    • Poki0: University of Alberta (Canada)
    • Prelude: Unfold Poker (U.S.)
    • Rockhopper: David Lin (New York)
    • Sartre: University of Auckland (New Zealand)
    • Slumbot: Eric Jackson (U.S.; former Google engineer)
    • SmooCT: Johannes Heinrich (U.K.)
    • Tartanian: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
    • Teddy: Morten Lynge (Ikast, Denmark)
    • Zbot: Ilkka Rajala (Finland)

    Developers who have medaled [other bots by the same developer in brackets]:

    • Alexander Lee (Spain): Neo Poker Bot
    • anonymous famous mathematician and top online heads-up player (U.S. and Canada): Hugh
    • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA): [Claudico], GS2, [Libratus], Tartanian
    • Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic): AAIMontybot, Nyx
    • David Lin (New York): Rockhopper
    • Dublin City University (Ireland): DCU
    • Eric Jackson (U.S.; former Google engineer): Slumbot
    • Francois Pays (France): Feste
    • Ilkka Rajala (Finland): Zbot
    • Johannes Heinrich (U.K.): SmooCT
    • Marv Anderson (U.K.): Calamari, Escabeche, MANZANA
    • Mikrospin d.o.o. (Slovenia): Lucky7
    • Monash University (Melbourne, Australia): Monash
    • Morten Lynge (Ikast, Denmark): Teddy
    • Rod Byrnes (Australia): Little.Rock
    • Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany): AKI-RealBot, akuma, Bender, dpp, KEmpfer, mcBotUltra
    • Teppo Salonen: BluffBot
    • Unfold Poker (U.S.): Act1, Prelude
    • University of Alberta (Canada): [Cepheus], Hyperborean, [Loki], Poki0, [Polaris], [PSOpti], [Sparbot], [Vexbot]
    • University of Auckland (New Zealand): [Casper], Sartre
    • University of Bucharest (Romania): GGValuta

    Also of note: Allen Cunningham finished 5th with CleverPiggy in the 2014 Heads-Up Limit Hold ‘Em competition.

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Man vs. Machine Texas Hold ‘Em Matches


[SS] “In the last couple of years,” Stan the Stat continued, “Cepheus, Claudico, and Libratus have famously been in the news, and not just on poker sites. But the history of computers playing poker goes back many decades. Here are the major matches against top human competition:”

Man vs. Machine Heads-Up Texas Hold ‘Em Matches

Date Computer Program
(Creator)
Opponent[s] Limit Winner Match Result Notes
1984/05/13 Orac
(Mike Caro)
Tom McEvoy and Doyle Brunson No Limit Humans 3-1 (McEvoy 2-0, Brunson 1-1)1 Starting Stacks: 100 chips
Blinds: 1/2
Orac ran on an Apple II.
19842 Orac
(Mike Caro)
Bob Stupak No Limit Human Ended up with more chips after 5 hours Orac mysteriously crashed while it was ahead in a hand where Stupak was all-in.3 Stupak collected $250,000 for winning the match.4
2003 PsOpti-1
(Univ. of Alberta)
Gautam Rao Limit Human +150 BB (approx.) Over 7,000 hands, Rao won by a statistically insignificant margin. PsOpti-1 even had the lead midway through the match.
2005/07/15 Poki-X
(Univ. of Alberta)5
Phil Laak No Limit Human Small victory Laak was paid $10,000 for the 3-hour demonstration event.
2005/07/15 PokerProbot
(Hilton Givens)
Phil Laak No Limit Human Won all the chips in 399 hands Starting Stacks: 15,000 chips
Blinds: 250/500
The demonstration event took over three and a half hours, with the match nearly tied halfway through.
2007/07/23 to 2007/07/24 Polaris
(Univ. of Alberta)
Phil Laak and Ali Eslami Limit Humans 2-1 with one virtual draw “Man vs. Machine Poker Championship”
Blinds: 5/10
Limits: 10/20
Polaris won both 500-hand games the first day, one by a tiny amount, but the humans were able to adjust their strategy successfully and collect $7,500.
2008/07/03 to 2008/07/066 Polaris 2.0
(Univ. of Alberta)
Nick Grudzien, Matt Hawrilenko, IJay Palansky, Kyle Hendon, Bryce Paradis Limit Computer 3-2 with one virtual draw “Man vs. Machine Poker Championship II”
Blinds: 500/1,000
Limits: 1,000/2,000
Six 500-hand duplicate sessions
2015/04/24 to 2015/05/08 Claudico
(Carnegie Mellon Univ.)
Bjorn Li, Doug Polk, Dong Kim, Jason Les No Limit Humans -7,327.13 BB over 80,000 hands (-9.2 BB/100) “Brains vs. AI”
Claudico only beat Les in the duplicate matches.
2017/01/11 to 2017/01/31 Libratus
(Carnegie Mellon Univ.)
Dong Kim, Jason Les, Daniel McAulay, Jimmy Chou No Limit Computer +17,662.5 BB over 120,000 hands (+14.7 BB/100) “Brains vs. AI: Upping the Ante”
Libratus beat all four humans in the duplicate matches.

Footnotes:

  1. The first Brunson game lasted only one hand when Brunson shoved with Ace-Queen, and Orac called with Ace-Jack and got no help. Brunson conceded the last game because time was up, but he still had a third of the chips.
  2. The match was featured in the December 9, 1984 episode of ABC’s “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” between segments on triskaidekaphobia and a tower for bats.
  3. Orac had three-of-a-kind against Stupak’s two pairs. The rules of the match stipulated that the hand had to be replayed even though there were no more decisions to be made.
  4. Caro’s friend Jackie Gaughn put up $250,000 for the computer, while Stupak covered his own bet.
  5. Poki-X was an experimental cross-breed of Sparbot and Vexbot.
  6. Prior to the live portion of the competition, two remote matches were held.

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Libratus Demoralizes Poker Pros in Heads-Up No Limit Hold ‘Em

[SS] “Oh, the humanity!” Stan the Stat moaned.

[LL] “Destruction of the Hindenburg zeppelin, 1937”,1 Leroy the Lion filled in.

[SS] “Destruction of the human poker player, 2017. Libratus just carved its name in the history books.”

Games Conquered by Computer Programs

Year Game Computer Program Human Champion[s]
1994 Checkers Chinook Martin Tinsley
1997 Othello Logistello Takeshi Murakami
1997 Chess Deep Blue Garry Kasparov
2011 Jeopardy! Watson Ken Jennings & Brad Rutter
2016 Go DeepMind several top players
2017 Heads-Up No Limit Hold ‘Em Libratus several top players

[RR] “And less than two years after we beat Claudico, right?” Roderick the Rock enjoined.

[SS] “Yes, a slightly different human team this time, but I don’t think it would have made a huge difference. Could have reduced the winning margin some, but Libratus was simply that much better than its dad.”

[LL] “I don’t know. The two best players from last time didn’t play this time.”

[SS] “The humans lost nearly 15% of a big blind per hand!2 Congratulations to the Carnegie Mellon programmers, Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown.”

Claudico and Libratus Results

Player vs. Claudico
April 24 to
May 8, 2015
(20,000 hands)
vs. Libratus
January 11 to
January 31, 2017
(30,000 hands)
Bjorn Li +529,033
Doug Polk +213,671
Dong Kim +70,491 -85,649
Jason Les -80,482 -880,087
Daniel McAulay -277,657
Jimmy Chou -522,857

[RR] “At least it was just heads-up No Limit Hold ‘Em. Maybe we can hang on for another decade in full-table Hold ‘Em.”

[SS] “I doubt it. I’m guessing we’ll be underwater by 2020.”3

[LL] “It may only depend on how much effort programmers put into the task. Their research has much broader utility.”4

[RR] “Watson went on to more useful work in lung cancer treatment, for example. Hopefully Libratus, or at least its algorithms, will too.”

[SS] “And help save humanity.”

Footnotes:

  1. Radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison uttered those immortal words on WLS Chicago.
  2. The big blind was a constant 100 chips. Chip stacks were reset to 20,000 for each hand, so in theory, humans might still be better with bigger stacks (on the other side, small stacks are simpler for both sides).
  3. For those of you who missed it, and that would be almost all of you, Sealab 2020 was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon about living in the ocean that only lasted for a single season in 1972.
  4. On February 13, 2017, CMU Ph.D. student Noam Brown, who helped develop Libratus, conjectured, “I think that with some minor improvements to Libratus, you’d be able to see it beating humans at six-max within two years.”

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