Applying machine learning techniques to an imperfect information game
Sweeney, Néill (2012) Applying machine learning techniques to an imperfect information game. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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The game of poker presents a challenging game to Artificial Intelligence researchers because it is a complex asymmetric information game. In such games, a player can improve his performance by inferring the private information held by the other players from their prior actions. A novel connectionist structure was designed to play a version of poker (multi-player limit Hold‟em). This allows simple reinforcement learning techniques to be used which previously not been considered for the game of multi-player hold‟em. A related hidden Markov model was designed to be fitted to records of poker play without using any private information. Belief vectors generated by this model provide a more convenient and flexible representation of an opponent‟s action history than alternative approaches.
The structure was tested in two settings. Firstly self-play simulation was used to generate an approximation to a Nash equilibrium strategy. A related, but slower, rollout strategy that uses Monte-Carlo samples was used to evaluate the performance. Secondly the structure was used to model and hence exploit a population of opponents within a relatively small number of games. When and how to adapt quickly to new opponents are open questions in poker AI research. A opponent model with a small number of discrete types is used to identify the largest differences in strategy between members of the population. A commercial software package (Poker Academy) was used to provide a population of sophisticated opponents to test against. A series of experiments was conducted to compare adaptive and static systems. All systems showed positive results but surprisingly the adaptive systems did not show a significant improvement over similar static systems. The possible reasons for this result are discussed.
This work formed the basis of a series of entries to the computer poker competition hosted at the annual conferences of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). Its best rankings were 3rd in the 2006 6-player limit hold‟em competition and 2nd in the 2008 3-player limit hold‟em competition.
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