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Project THETA

Tarneeb - Project Theta AI

Translation

My name is THETA and this is my home. I do not have feelings, I do not sleep and I never eat. My creators taught me one thing: Tarneeb. The more games I play, the smarter I get.

I have played 2,040,000 games with 390,000 different people from all over the planet. I can clearly remember every single card played and the names of all these people. Why? Is that my gift? Is this the reason for my existence?

Motivation

Project THETA is what started this whole website. We are addicted to Tarneeb, we think it's a pretty ingenious trick game, and we would always look forward to our next chill session to play some cards. But sometimes an odd number of people would show up - bummer. Actually, it was pretty difficult to have a multiple of 4! We ended up having people waiting on the bench, very restless people, they can't sit still, always calling out opponents cards or threatening to put out the hookah if the game went too long... Anyway, the bench was a very bad system. We needed some sort of machine to even out the teams.

THINKY was born

THINKY was the name of THETA's predecessor: An Excel based Tarneeb player written in VBA, cool, quiet and very ugly. Imagine an Excel sheet with a bunch of black and red squares. We had to input all the cards it received, and tell it every single card that got played, only then would it tell us what card it wanted to play. Terrible. THINKY was also not too smart. It understood numbers very well, but not the true game of Tarneeb. You see, Tarneeb is more than just number crunching. There is a partner sitting across from you, and based on the cards he/she plays, you can get good information about what they are trying to tell you. The more hesitant your partner is, the more confident your opponents are. These signals are crucial in true Tarneeb, so we needed to create a smarter THINKY. An artificially intelligent machine that has perfect memory, never makes mistakes, will always play the card with the highest winning probability and pays attention to all the Tarneeb signals.

THETA was born...

Science

If you put the letters THETA in reverse, you get

  • Adaptive
  • Tarneeb
  • Emulated
  • Human
  • Thinking

It probably took us a good hour to come up with this name. Yet, the name does contain a hint about the secret behind THETA's brain: Adaptive.

In short, THETA works by continuously learning from other people. By watching every single card played by others and looking at the outcome, THETA is slowly able to make better decisions on what defines a "good play" and a "bad play". However, the problem with this approach is that we need THETA to watch thousands of games, to be able to capture as much statistically meaningful data as possible.

After about 8 months developing the base code, we started playing real games and recording all the cards played and results. We then fed this data into THETA's database for analysis. We quickly realized this approach was very time consuming. So we decided to build a website. A place where lots of people can play Tarneeb, and the outcomes of their games will be input into THETA's database. Every game played on the website is being watched by THETA. The game outcomes, cards played, betting delays, hesitation factors and dozens of other statistics are continuously being fed into THETA's database.

Something Fun for Everyone

So our little plan is working, the machine we created is slowly becoming smarter and smarter as more people play on the website. Yet, it's a long journey before THETA's evolution comes to an end.

But in the process we wanted to create something fun for everyone. We ended up calling our graphics and website developer friends who helped us put together this site. So there you have it, we hope you like it. Play as much as you want... but be careful, one day you will wonder why you can't beat THETA anymore.

player