Gin, Poker, Chess and Computer Assistance

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An poker player once asked a question on one of the online forums about gin rummy: "Aren't games of skill like gin rummy more susceptible to computer assistance in play than poker that is more a game of chance?"

Here's what the answer was:

If you take a 100% pure skill game such as chess or checkers or reversi, or even a casino game like video poker, then you are correct -- computers will be better than humans. It is hard (but not impossible) in these games to figure out online whether you are playing a computer or a human. Most sites would not allow users to connect any external programs (like chess computers) to the game. Those who use such programs online, then, will have to consult these programs externally, losing valuable game time. To avoid external computer assistance, online chess players prefer very fast games only.

But now instead of looking at games with pure 100% skill, let's take a look at an excellent card game where a small element of chance or 'fuzziness' is present. Gin rummy is a great legally recognized skill game where skill-to-chance ratio is estimated at approximately 70-40. It's no accident that the only available computer that plays gin rummy achieves results on the level of the dumbest human -- computers hate any 'fuzziness' however insignificant.

Take any other good card game of skill like cribbage & again, existing computer programs fail miserably. So far and for the foreseeable future, humans deal much better with 'fuzziness' in card games of skill than computers.



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