Can Any Casino Game Really Be “Solved”?
There has been a huge amount of talk recently around the global internet about the growing impact of AI software and everything connected to it.
There are those hailing it as the next big technological breakthrough that will transform everything for the better, and then there are those warning of the potential dangers behind it that could potentially upset entire industries.
Casino lovers can be found in both camps for a range of different issues, but the main concern as far as casino operators and tournament organizers are concerned is the potential for someone to use AI to somehow beat the games.
It's a frequent topic that's brought up but what is often left out is exactly how AI would manage this.
What Would AI Need to Play Casino Games?
The first thing any AI system would need to play a game would be the rules, although this is certainly the easiest step out of all of them.
The fundamental parts of all casino games are all mathematical after all, and any gaps can easily be covered by online guides, much like our own one for Texas Holdem.
At this stage, it would be more surprising for any major AI system to not already have all the rules for any casino game locked down tight.
Any veteran table game player, however, will tell you that knowing the rules is only the very start of the game.
Even with the simplest versions of poker, for example, there are layers of bluffing, psychology, and minute human details to play that the rules and data wouldn't show you.
If applied to online poker, which would be the main potential place that we would see AI used, there are still play patterns, habits, and small personal signs that aren't based on any factual things.
So, now the AI would also have to learn detailed human psychology, perhaps some tell recognition from hand or facial movements, and the habits and patterns of the specific people it is put up against.
For tells, AI such as the emotional recognition software developed by ImageNet has shown some ability to read faces, but only under strict conditions.
For the other criteria, the habits could potentially be learned and analyzed but only if the competitors are known well in advance. As for psychology, it is so abstract as a field that it's hard to see any software truly mastering it.
The Last Hurdle
Even if AI manages to accomplish all the unlikely things above, there is still one thing standing in the way: chance.
For AI to truly ‘beat' a game like poker or blackjack, it would need to be able to win the game every single time. The issue here is, that is almost statistically impossible.
Casino games are fundamentally about chance, and having all the rules, data, and all possible information about a poker round is no guarantee of winning it.
For some kinds of games, it's even clearer, with online slots being the absolute pinnacle of the rule.
As major sites like Vegas Slots Online and others will readily tell you, slot games of any kind, from any developer and with whichever features they have, always come down to chance.
Unlike video games, AI cannot learn or be trained on how to win because there simply is no certain method to win.
So Can AI Ever ‘Solve' Casino Games?
The short answer is no. For games like slots where there is no way to influence the outcome, AI has the same chances as any human player.
When it comes to more strategic games along the lines of poker, it is best summed up in an interview with AI expert Rodney Brooks: “It doesn’t have any connection to the world.”
AI may be able to emulate speech or patterns but it doesn't have the fundamental human characteristics of psychology or culture
In the end, the level of AI required to even come close to a top-level poker player is a long way from where we are right now.
Even then, if all the hurdles are overcome, perhaps in 30, 40, or even 50 years, the fundamental chance of the games would make an AI a strong player at its very best. When chance is involved, there is simply no way to ‘solve' a game.