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
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.


  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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