Borgota Poker Open 2017

Looking forward to traveling to Atlantic City for the Borgota Poker Open 2017!

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Summer Borgata Poker Open

Sarang Ahuja Borgata Poker Open

Last month I played in the Summer Borgata Poker Open. As with my run at the WSOP Millionaire Maker event, I cashed again, but once again missed the big money. That said, it was certainly a learning experience, as each tournament is. I got some pretty good coverage from the Borgata’s blogger during the tournament this time around, and I’ve included a couple of links below.

http://summerpokeropen.blog.theborgata.com/2015/07/16/event-1-day-1d-poker-room-leaders-2/

http://summerpokeropen.blog.theborgata.com/2015/07/16/event-1-day-2-abuja-triples-to-save-tournament-life/

WSOP Millionaire Maker

sarang ahuja gold bracelet

The other weekend I played in the Millionaire Maker event at the World Series of Poker, in what turned out to be the 6th largest tournament field in history – I guess a lot of people find the idea of becoming a millionaire appealing. Go figure. Unlike some of the other WSOP events, like Monster Stack and The Colossus, the title of Millionaire Maker is not hyperbole. The winner, Adrian Buckley, took home $1,277,193, so the event lived up to its name.

It’s definitely worth mentioning that this was Buckley’s first in-the-money finish, and his debut on the world poker stage. Having arrived as a complete unknown, he’s certainly in the limelight now. Not only did Buckley take down some serious heavy hitters at the final table, including Erick Lindgren, Mike Sexton, Justin Pechie, and David Miscikowski, all previous gold bracelet winners, he also faced long odds several times. From the WSOP website: “Indeed, this win was unlikely as they come, especially given the pedigree of competition later in the tournament.”

While a lot of players, myself included, can only imagine how Adrian Buckley must have felt right after he won, he did clue everyone in with some comments. “This is one-hundred percent surreal,” he was, unsurprisingly, quoted as saying. “This has been a crazy few days. It was the run of the century.” Just 15 years into this century, I suppose it might have been.

I wound up coming in 435th out of the 7,275 entrants, and cashing for $4,517. While I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t me giving the quote about how surreal it was to win the bracelet, it is definitely bitter sweet. Reflecting back, I am proud of my play and my ability to navigate through and ultimately finish in the top 6%. It may not have been the run of the century, but I guess it wasn’t too shabby either.

AI Poker

sarang ahuja Robot-poker

An Artificial Intelligence program, known as Claudico, faced off against actual poker players this month in a game of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em. Held at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, the event spanned two weeks and included 80,000 hands of poker.

While the human players did win more chips than the AI, it was still not enough to pass the threshold needed to be considered scientifically valid. Previously, computers have been successful at beating humans in games such as chess and Jeopardy, and this event suggests that soon poker will be the next.

Tuomas Sandholm, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, is one who believes that poker-playing Artificial Intelligence will soon be better competitors than humans. Sandholm, who led the team that created Claudico, stated after the event that “I am guessing [a poker-playing AI] will be stronger than the best humans in the world in one to five years.”

What separates poker from the other games, in which computers have already proven successful, is that a major strategy surrounding poker is the act of bluffing. Bluffing is an extremely dynamic aspect of poker where players choose to raise their bet without having the best hand, in order to fool an opponent into folding. The ability to bluff successfully results from the players having incomplete information about the other players at the table.

Sandholm and his colleagues did not pre-program Claudico’s poker strategy, instead, they wrote algorithms that automatically compute a strategy by trying to find the Nash equilibrium. Players are said to be in Nash equilibrium if they are making the best decision possible, taking into account the decisions of the other players. Claudico still has room to improve, but this event indicates that Artificial Intelligence is making great strides in its ability to solve problems despite having access to incomplete information.

Although Artificial Intelligence programs are fortunate to not have to disguise their emotions when making a “bluff” as a human poker player must, it is still impressive to see how far this technology has developed. And who knows, maybe someday Claudico will be subject to displaying emotions as well.

Read more here.

Haixia Zhang Wins Ladies WSOP

For the ladies championship at the 2014 World Series of Poker, Haixia Zhang became the second female to win the series and she took home the gold bracelet and $153,470.  Only playing poker for fun, reports Bluff Magazine, Zhang is a mother of two and her and her husband run a strafing company and have done so for 14 years.

sarangahuja_haixiazhangNormally her and her family take a week long trip to Vegas.  Before the the trip was never to play poker but Zhang mentioned her husband told her that she should just play.  After the last two years of visiting the city but playing in the tournament, Zhang decided to enter for the 2014 WSOP.

Zhang mentioned that she wasn’t nervous during the tournament and she just played her game but there were some tense moments where she was down to four big blinds and that she had lost most of her chips on a hand where she held jacks and another player held eights, hitting the set on the flop.  She even text her husband that she thought she would be done very soon after playing with the four big blinds.

For the majority of the day on Saturday, Zhang was in the middle of the pack with chips, the average being 311,000.  Mikiyo Aoki held a commanding chip lead at 742,000 when the opening ceremony of the Big One For One Drop.  This forced the players to pause until the poet finished his speech.  The starting line-up of chip introductions continued after ward and the first official shuffle and deal happened at 1:15 which happened with only seven minutes left in the level 19 kick off.

After it was all said and done Zhang was the one holding the gold bracelet.  She mentioned that she is hoping to play a couple more events before she puts in her name to the main event.

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