No cameras, please

Updated: January 20, 2006, 2:12 PM ET
By BLUFF | Phil Laak

When you look at your hole cards on a televised final table, one to five others have seen it with you (behind-the-scenes TV people). Does this have an effect on the outcome of a hand? Does another person's consciousness (in another room) carry over to the current dynamic of the hand in play? Well, there was a time when I would have said no. But not anymore. There is now enough evidence for me to believe that there is an effect. Morphic resonance.

OK, so I am a nut. Morphic resonance was a term first coined by a fellow named Rupert Sheldrake (sounds like a guy selling snake oil … I know). It is "the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species."

Essentially, if you subscribe to the theory of morphic resonance, you will believe things like: (1) your dog knows when you are coming home, and (2) you can tell when you are being stared at.

Now I diverge a bit … but I need to let you know of an astounding bit of news. Your body knows when the eyes are on you. Even if you don't know yourself. How do we know this? Because it is something we can measure. In Dean Radin's book "The Conscious Universe," he describes the following experiment. (Google and read about this guy … very juicy stuff.) Anyway, the target sits in a room. The target is watched via a remote video feed. He does not know when he is being watched or not watched. But his body does! He is just not aware of it. The target is wearing a device that records his magnetic field fluctuations. When he is being watched, the machine registers a marked change in his magnetic field. (Not kooky stuff, kids … everyone has a measurable magnetic field around them and it is altered when you are being watched.) And it returns to the previous state when not being watched. Target and controls, all repeatable. Very cool.

Whether you know it or not, it can be measured. Now, bear with me a bit -- we are circling back.

This last October the same people that brought "Late Night Poker" to the U.K. audience hosted a poker tournament called the William Hill Grand Prix. Nice tournament. Antonio and I went. And I won.

But this was the trippy thing: About 30 minutes into the tournament, it hits me. When I look at my cards, I am not the only one. I am sharing this experience with others in real time. Most of my opponents had supporters in the viewing room of the studio. Cool. Fine. But what about the guys in the viewing booth? That sacred place at a televised poker tournament where only a few people sit … and see all the players' hands in real time. The most sacred of all poker places. What about those guys? Could I be hurting myself by looking at the cards at the same time that my opponent's friends see them? Or maybe helping myself? Maybe if a player is the sentimental favorite, he gains by showing the people in the viewing booth. Maybe a player's telepathic moments are enhanced by having a friend see both you and your opponent's cards at the same time! The guys in the booth know what your opponent has, who is to say there is not some sort of effect down at the table?

And then again … maybe I should just get back to good ol' poker theory and play my cards alone, content that there is no crossover effect by others knowing my hand. Well, I can't do that, of course. It just makes too much sense to me. How can there not be an effect? So from that hand on … I looked when it was my turn to act. But me and me alone. I was now too sensitive to the "other energies." At the end of the hand, I dutifully slid the hand over the glass so that the people could record the hand. Did I defend against telepathic disaster? Or did I cost myself equity? I don't know.

One thing I know for sure is this: I will still always show my cards to the camera, only from now on it will be at the end of the hand. There is enough noise in my head already, the last thing I need is more noise. That guy in the back of my head -- you know -- the short, older fellow. The one standing at the chalkboard, with the black-rimmed glasses. He thinks it's obvious. Me, well, I have to side with the man at the chalkboard on this one. It's just a shame that I can't make out what the scribbles on the board say.

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