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Artificial Intelligence Developed to See Through the “Poker Face”

 Artificial Intelligence Developed to See Through the “Poker Face”

When players are at the poker table, there is plenty of deception that goes on. One of the biggest things that players attempt to hide is any expression on their faces of how good or bad their hands are – the proverbial “poker face.” According to scientists, they have now developed an artificial intelligence that can see through anyone’s attempts to hide their emotions and feelings.

In a recent TED Talk, Dolby Laboratories scientist Poppy Crum explained how the company came up with the software to be able to break down what someone’s disposition is. “It’s the end of the poker face,” she said during the TED discussion. “We broadcast our emotions…we will know more about each other than we ever have.”

Using a combination of sensors and monitors along with a sophisticated interpretation program, Crum states that micromovements of the face, a rise in skin temperature and other indicators can be read and interpreted for a variety of emotional reactions. Such things as lying, infatuation, excitement, preparing to fight and other reactions can be identified through the analysis of all this information in a split second by the AI.

The potential implications at the poker table could be significant. If the AI can read – and, perhaps more importantly, interpret the information – correctly, such things as an increase in pulse rate or breathing, the dilation of a player’s pupils, changes in body temperature and several other bodily functions could be examined and a pattern predicted by the computers. If a player were able to get these things in real time, it would be a massive benefit to a player on the felt in sizing up his opponents.

Like most technologies, this breakthrough in artificial intelligence isn’t limited to its usage at the poker tables. The technology could be used to better identify how a human is acting and determine a path forward in communications, negotiations, and other areas. It could also be used for less than altruistic purposes when someone wants to manipulate a person or their actions.

The advent of computers has led to some fascinating breakthroughs in the activity of games. First computers were unleashed against the finite game of chess, with computers being trained in the game to the point that they were able to take on grandmasters of the game. In 1996, a creation of IBM called Deep Blue took on legendary Grandmaster and former World Champion Gary Kasparov, with Kasparov able to handily beat the computer. Fast forward one year and Deep Blue, with another year of development and improvement to its calculations, defeated the chess legend.

With chess out of the way, other computer programmers and scientists began to look at other games they could conquer. The professors and students at the University of Alberta began working on AI that took on the game of Heads Up Limit Texas Hold’em. The reason for the parameters of the game – the heads-up nature and the limit format – kept the number of decisions down for their artificial intelligence.

In 2008, the team at the University of Alberta came up with Polaris, who lost to professional poker players Ali Eslami and Phil Laak in a much-ballyhooed “man vs. machine” battle. After making some critical changes and expanding the AI’s database, the Alberta braniacs brought Polaris back for another round with Eslami and Laak, with the final score coming out in favor of Polaris, 3-2-1.

Not satisfied with their work with Polaris, the University of Alberta experts set about building a poker AI that would play the game of Limit Hold’em perfectly. In 2014, that work brought about Cepheus, which taught itself the entirety of mathematical challenges faced in Limit Hold’em in 70 days of play. In 2015, the University of Alberta stated that Cepheus had “perfected” the game of Limit Hold’em; players can take on Cepheus and learn for themselves how good the program is by playing against Cepheus here.

Alberta’s greatest minds then shifted their focus to NO LIMIT Texas Hold’em, with similar success. In 2015, the professors and scientists presented Claudico, the first heads up No Limit Hold’em playing AI and presented it for battle against four poker professionals including Doug Polk and Bjorn Li. Over the span of 80,000 hands, the AI held its own as there wasn’t enough of a statistical difference to determine a winner. In 2017, Alberta presented Libratus for a second “Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence” battle, with Libratus destroying Jason Les, Daniel McAulay, Jimmy Chou and Dong Kim to the tune of $ 1.7 million.

With the rise of Libratus and the ability to decipher a poker face, is it long until the computers take over the game of poker? Well, right now yes. Because of the complexities of No Limit Texas Hold’em, AI has only been created for the heads-up game. It also hasn’t been created for games like Stud, Omaha or other variants. Thus, while the news may be in favor of the development of AI and “poker face” decipherers, it should be some time before sentient beings are taking humans money on the real-life poker tables.

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World Poker Tour to Honor Steve Lipscomb, Lyle Berman with WPT Honors Award

 World Poker Tour to Honor Steve Lipscomb, Lyle Berman with WPT Honors Award

Continuing the legacy of honoring those who were instrumental in their contributions to the World Poker Tour and the poker community also, the WPT will give their WPT Honors Award to two men who will join a legendary cast in May.

On May 22, the WPT will look back into their past and honor Steve Lipscomb and Lyle Berman, two men whose vision created the WPT and cemented its place in poker history. “The WPT is deeply proud to present two extraordinary icons of our industry with the WPT Honors Award,” Adam Pliska, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Poker Tour, said during the announcement of the awards. “These Honorees represent the pioneering ingenuity and passionate leadership that has abundantly influenced poker. Mr. Steve Lipscomb and Mr. Lyle Berman brought poker to new heights with the creation of the World Poker Tour, and their passion and dedication have allowed the WPT to become what it is today.”

It goes without saying that, without these two men, there wouldn’t be a World Poker Tour in existence today. Lipscomb was the man who came up with the concept of a tournament poker series that traveled to different casinos. He also knew how he wanted to present these tournaments. Rather than the staid productions that had come previously where the viewers weren’t shown the hole cards, Lipscomb knew that showing these cards would be critical to driving the broadcasts of the tournaments. With that in mind, he utilized the development of the “lipstick camera” as a method of providing the viewer with the excitement of the game.

From the time the WPT debuted in 2002, Lipscomb was instrumental in the success of the show. He served as the director and producer for every episode during the first eight years of the program, with the WPT becoming one of the catalysts of the mid-2000s “poker boom” that erupted during those years. For his efforts, Lipscomb has previously been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the inaugural American Poker Awards in 2015.

While Lipscomb was the one who had the idea, it was Berman who was the one who provided the monetization and the background to be able to work in the cutthroat casino industry. As a businessman, Lipscomb was responsible for the growth and expansion of Grand Casinos, Inc., which allowed him to be able to finance the WPT in its infancy. Because of his casino background, he was also a key player in the negotiations with the different casinos across the States of America and the world when it came to creating the schedule of events and to allowing for the taping of the programs.

Berman’s experience in the world of poker is also noted in his other achievements. He is a three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, earning over $ 2.6 million in his career in tournament poker. He is also a feared cash game player, giving him the gravitas to be elected into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002.

The WPT Honors Award is a relatively new accolade in the poker world, but it has a glowing list of honorees. Former WPT announcer, hostess and tournament director Linda Johnson was the first-ever honoree in February 2017. Later that same year in June, former WPT announcer and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton and French poker legend Bruno Fitoussi (instrumental in bringing the WPT to the legendary Aviation Club in Paris) were also feted the award.

Ceremonies to honor both Lipscomb and Berman will be held during the play of the WPT Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas in May. That tournament will be held from May 24-26, so it is likely there will be one night chosen to honor both men simultaneously. Congratulations to Lipscomb and Berman for receiving this prestigious award!

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Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino Reportedly Set to Open June 28th

 Atlantic City’s Ocean Resort Casino Reportedly Set to Open June 28th

“Looks like we’re going to New Jersey to visit an accounting firm. That’s a shitty day.” –Terry Hoitz in The Other Guys

Ok, now I readily admit that this article has nothing to do with an accounting firm, but seeing as I am about to encourage everyone to visit New Jersey on June 28th, I couldn’t help but think of that quote and laugh. Oh, how I laughed. According to a report from the Press of Atlantic City, the Ocean Resort Casino is setting its sights on a June 28th grand opening. This is not only significant because it’s the grand opening of the Ocean Resort Casino (hello SEO), but also because it is the exact date when the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will open. Methinks the Boardwalk is going to be rockin’ that day. Seriously, it might be a lot of fun.

The Press of Atlantic City was unable to officially confirm the target date, only hearing in an e-mail from Ocean CEO Frank Leone, “The Ocean Resort Casino Team is committed to opening this summer and looks forward to announcing its highly anticipated opening date soon.”

The June 28th date was taken from signed employment agreements which showed a work start date of June 11th and “anticipated” opening date of June 28th. Several employees provided the same documents to the Press.

One possible roadblock is that the Ocean Resort Casino has not actually been granted a license yet from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. There are no hearings on the schedule and the Division of Gaming Enforcement has not issued a report. That said, the grand opening date is two months out so one would think that since the regulatory agencies have got to be in the process of reviewing the licensing application that it is fully possible a license could be coming soon. Assuming the dates on the employment agreements are valid, it would be odd if Ocean Resort Casino didn’t know that everything would be in place before June 28th.

Ocean Resort Casino is the former Revel, the gaudy $ 2.4 billion property that was supposed to rival the Borgata. It opened in April 2012 and was a spectacular failure, closing in September 2014. Shortly thereafter, it went through a screwy auction process in which Brookfield US Holdings won a bankruptcy auction for the Revel for just $ 110 million. The sale fell through in January 2015 and Glenn Straub, head of Polo North Country Club, was awarded the Revel by a bankruptcy judge for his original bid of $ 95.4 million. The Revel then cancelled that deal in February and then re-engaged in talks with Straub in April only to sell it to him for just $ 82 million.

Straub renamed the property TEN and in June 2016, Straub said he was going to reopen it with a small casino and loads of entertainment facilities, but it never reopened.

In January of this year, Bruce Deifik, the founder of Integrated Properties in Denver, bought Revel/TEN for $ 200 million with the full intention of reopening it this summer.

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Rep. Charlie Dent Retiring from Congress Earlier Than Expected

 Rep. Charlie Dent Retiring from Congress Earlier Than Expected

You know that feeling when you are around a person and you think to yourself, “Why won’t they just go away already?” Well, I’ve never been around him, but I’ve had that feeling about Rep. Charlie Dent (R – Penn.) for a while now. And guess what? He’s actually about to go away! Last fall, Dent announced that he would not run for re-election, but recently, he decided he wasn’t even going to wait for the end of his term and would walk away within the next few weeks. Though he is not my representative (mine is actually worse), I will not miss him.

Dent has positioned himself as a moderate Republican, serving as co-chair of the Tuesday Group Caucus, which is supposed to be a counter to the continued shifting of the party to the far right. But despite this positioning, Dent took up an extremely conservative stance on online poker, looking to ban it completely.

But it’s not even his objectively stupid stance on internet poker that I despise about him. It’s that he tried to get the game banned in an acutely unethical manner. See, he’s another one of those Sheldon Adelson jock-sniffers in Congress who will do the billionaire Republican donor’s bidding even if it goes against the best interest of his constituents (Pennsylvania, remember, legalized online poker and will see sites launch this year). Though Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) hasn’t done much on Capitol Hill and has been widely seen, even by most Republicans, as crony capitalism, Dent tried at least once to sneak RAWA language into an appropriations bill. The idea was to tack it on to a bill that was sure to pass without anyone noticing, then viola! No more online poker.

Here’s what the language looked like. Dent tried it in 2016, then was supposedly going to do it again last year, but I do not believe he ended up doing so:

The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults (including the applicability of the Wire Act (18 U.S.C. 1084) and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (31 U.S.C. 5361–5367) to such proposal), does not carry the force of law and shall have no force and effect for purposes of interpreting or applying section 5362(a)(10) of title 31, United States Code.

Fortunately, some of Dent’s lawmaker colleagues saw what he was doing and disapproved, so he only submitted the amendment then immediately withdrew it.

From various interviews, it seems like part of why Dent is leaving Congress early is that he’s simply sick of Donald Trump and his administration. While he hasn’t completely come out and condemned Trump, he has admitted that he is tired of all the childish tweets and insane behavior coming from the White House, that it all gets in the way of what he and others are trying to get accomplished (even if some of what he wants to accomplish is crap). He was going to be done at the end of the year anyway, so he figured, might as well end the headache and be done now.

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The Stars Group Buys Sky Betting & Gaming for $4.7 Billion

 The Stars Group Buys Sky Betting & Gaming for $4.7 Billion

The Stars Group announced over the weekend that it has acquired Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) for $ 4.7 billion in combination cash and stock deal. According to The Stars Group in a press release, the addition of Sky will make the company the largest publicly traded online gambling company.

The Stars Group is clearly best known as an online poker company, as its name comes from its ownership of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, but this purchase balances the company’s numbers quite nicely. The Stars Group says that if Sky, CrownBet and William Hill Australia (the latter two of which were also recently acquired) were counted in the 2017 financials, poker would make up just 37 percent of The Stars Group’s revenue. An almost equal number – 34 percent – would have come from sportsbook, while 26 percent would have been casino.

“The acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming is a landmark moment in The Stars Group’s history,” said Rafi Ashkenazi, TSG’s Chief Executive Officer, in the press release. “SBG operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers. SBG’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform. The ability to offer two low-cost acquisition channels of this magnitude provides The Stars Group with great growth potential and will significantly increase our ability to create winning moments for our customers.”

“We are delighted to join forces with The Stars Group,” added Richard Flint, Sky Betting & Gaming’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have had a fantastic last few years and would like to thank CVC and Sky for supporting us in becoming a leading online operator in the UK. This transaction allows us to offer our best-in-class products to a truly global audience. We’re excited about our future together.”

The Stars Group outlined the benefits of the acquisition, the first of which we have touched upon:

• Greater revenue diversification and significantly enhanced exposure to sports betting, the world’s largest and fastest growing online gaming segment, as the majority of SBG’s revenues are generated by sports betting.
• An increased presence in regulated markets, particularly within the United Kingdom, the world’s largest regulated online gaming market.
• The development of sports betting as a second low-cost customer acquisition channel, complementing The Stars Group’s core poker business and enabling more effective cross-sell to players across multiple verticals.
• Improved products and technology as a result of the addition of SBG’s innovative casino and sports book offerings, and portfolio of popular mobile apps.
• Identified cost synergies of at least $ 70 million per year.

The Stars Group will pay CVC Capital Partners and Sky plc, the owners of Sky Betting & Gaming, $ 3.6 billion in cash. To make up the other $ 1.1 billion, The Stars Group will pay with 37.9 million newly issued common shares. The value is based on the closing price of The Stars Group stock (NASDAQ: TSG) on April 20th, which was $ 29.30.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year and has been unanimously approved by TSG’s Board of Directors.

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