PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The epic battle is almost over.

For two weeks, four of the top poker minds in the world have been playing hand after hand at the Rivers Casino. Their opponent — a computer created at Carnegie Mellon University. It’s a historic event to see who will prevail – brains or artificial intelligence.

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Hundreds of thousands of cards later and a total of 80,000 hands dealt, and there will soon be a winner in this battle of man versus machine.

But going into it, no one knew exactly what would happen when they pitted four of the top heads-up, no-limit Texas Hold ’em players against Claudico, a computer 11 years in the making.

KDKA’s Susan Koeppen: “Do you get upset when Claudico loses?”

Tuomas Sandholm: “Oh yes, very much.”

Sandholm, a professor of computer science at CMU, is the brains behind Claudico, which is an artificial intelligence program developed at Carnegie Mellon.

Koeppen: “Is there bluffing going on with the computer?”

Sandholm: “Oh, yes.”

Koeppen: “Really?”

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Sandholm: “Well, not only can a computer bluff, it can actually figure out how to bluff on its own, without us even telling it that it should bluff.”

A computer defeated the world chess champion and a computer defeated a Jeopardy champion, but this is the first time that humans have played a computer in poker.

“You’re playing a cold-blooded killer because when he goes all in, and you snap him off to win his stack, he’s not scared now,” says Doug Polk, one of the poker players.

Why build a computer that can play poker? Sandholm says there are many applications where you need someone or something to help you decide what move to make next.

“This is really to be able to assist humans and companies in let’s say negotiations. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an agent that helped you strategize in the world when you’re buying a car or buying insurance or buying health care?” says Sandholm.

While CMU watched to see if their computer could pull it off, viewers from more than 100 countries watched online. But as play comes to an end, humans are in the lead.

“I just hoped and we all really hoped… we wanted to have the first-round victory over the computers. We know they’re going to get us eventually,” said Jason Les, one of the poker players.

The official winner will be announced on Friday. But when KDKA’s Susan Koeppen was at the casino, the humans were winning. There will be 800 hands played on Friday.

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