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Better Automated Abstraction Techniques for Imperfect Information Games, with Application to Texas Hold’em Poker

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2006, 00:00 authored by Andrew Gilpin, Tuomas W Sandholm

We present new approximation methods for computing gametheoretic strategies for sequential games of imperfect information. At a high level, we contribute two new ideas. First, we introduce a new state-space abstraction algorithm. In each round of the game, there is a limit to the number of strategically different situations that an equilibrium-finding algorithm can handle. Given this constraint, we use clustering to discover similar positions, and we compute the abstraction via an integer program that minimizes the expected error at each stage of the game. Second, we present a method for computing the leaf payoffs for a truncated version of the game by simulating the actions in the remaining portion of the game. This allows the equilibrium-finding algorithm to take into account the entire game tree while having to explicitly solve only a truncated version. Experiments show that each of our two new techniques improves performance dramatically in Texas Hold’em poker. The techniques lead to a drastic improvement over prior approaches for automatically generating agents, and our agent plays competitively even against the best agents overall.