Not long ago, four of the world’s best online poker players – Bjorn Li, Doug Polk, Dong Kim and Jason Les – took on Claudico, the world’s best NLHE poker program. Held at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino, the competition saw the humans dominate Claudico to the tune of $732k. Li led the way with $529k in profits, while Polk ($213k) also powered his team to victory. Obviously this was a fun little contest that shows humans can still beat an NLHE poker bot – no matter how elite. But there are some other important underlying factors that will help U.S. online poker as a whole.
1. This Win saves Poker’s Reputation
Anybody who’s followed the quest to get online poker legalized throughout the United States knows that politicians’ view of the game can be pretty cringe-worthy. After all, there are still some politicians who honestly believe that poker is pure gambling. It’s hard telling what they would have thought had an award-winning computer program crushed some of the world’s top poker pros. But I can only imagine that this would have somehow cast a negative light on the game, and perhaps drawn a comment from Sheldon Adelson on how iPoker could soon become infested with superior A.I. poker programs.
2. The Competition drummed up Mainstream Interest
It’s hard finding subject matter that helps poker transcend the gaming world to draw genuine interest from mainstream audiences. But Claudico vs the humans did exactly this while capturing a number of big-time headlines, including one from CBS News. While this competition won’t start a second poker boom, it’s never a bad thing to get more people reading about poker – especially when it involves the good guys winning.
3. More Pennsylvania Residents took note of this Event
Let’s be honest: some person in North Dakota reading about Claudico isn’t really going to make much of an impact here. However, seeing as how this event was held in Pittsburgh, it’s great because Pennsylvania residents/politicians took notice. And this is huge because PA is one of the closest states to legalizing online gaming. They’ve held multiple discussions on the matter in recent months and see iGaming as a way to keep pace in the competitive East Coast market. So it’s likely that the positive press from the Claudico competition will help in some small way in getting Pennsylvania to legalize online poker and casino games.