I’m really excited about the new TV program I’m involved with for Discovery Channel called Mind Control Freaks. I’m one of four “Mind Control Freaks” as we call them (my nickname is “The Charmer”) and we put people through different experiments to illustrate various psychological phenomena. From the episodes I’ve seen, it’s strange, a bit creepy and very entertaining!
Around this time last year, I got a call to try out for the show. Part of the camera test was to carry out a live experiment where I had to go up to people on the street with a newspaper and ask them to count the number of pictures in it as quickly as possible. If they could give me the right answer within one minute, they would win £20. It seemed easy enough. People would flick through the paper, counting as fast as they could all the while not noticing that on every single page in massive letters it said “There are 98 photos.” It demonstrated something called inattentional blindness; when someone is given a task to complete with tight time constraints, they’re solely focused on the task itself rather than looking for other very obvious information that could aid in its completion. We ran the experiment on several different people and they all had the exact same issue. It was incredible to witness. Shortly after, ten episodes were commissioned by Discovery and we went into filming.
One of my favorite experiments was one called “Blind Date.” The production company advertised for some lads to be on what they thought was going to be a new dating show. All they were told was that they were going to be filmed on a date with a girl and if the date went well, they would get through to the next round. Obviously, it was a fake show and we had something else up our sleeves – we wanted to test out just how observant a man could be by seeing if they’d notice that they were on a date with two different people! Production found a girl that looked a bit like me, dressed us in identical outfits and did our hair and makeup exactly the same. I started off the date with the unsuspecting Romeo and after a few minutes I “accidentally” spilled something on my dress. The director yelled, “Cut! Cut!” and said they’d hold the roll while I cleaned myself up. So I disappeared to the toilet and a minute later the other girl comes in, dabbing her dress and apologizing. The date continued and the lad didn’t notice at all that he was talking to a completely different person! We switched out a number of times during the date and he never caught on. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was, having this in-depth conversation with this guy and sure, the other girl and I look similar and were wearing the same fake glasses but the lad just didn’t notice! We tried it on three different guys and not one of them caught us.
Some of the other experiments involved hypnosis. I don’t want to give too much away, but before the show c was a skeptic about hypnosis and now after seeing what I’ve seen, I want to learn everything about it! It can have such a powerful effect on the human mind, so much so that I started working with a hypnotherapist and a mental coach at the beginning of this year. Right before I went to the Bahamas for PCA I started working to get my mental game more up to scratch and since then I’ve had some pretty good results. Who knows, maybe it’s all down to variance, but after I started working to change my mindset I went on one of the best runs I’ve had in a while. I learned that it’s not about seeing poker as a means to an end, it’s about enjoying the game itself in the present moment and remaining detached from the results. You can’t control the cards–sometimes they’ll run well for you and sometimes they’ll run bad. What’s important is your mental state at the table. Am I enjoying myself? Am I playing to the best of my ability? And if not, why not?
I’m really grateful to the show for introducing me to the incredible power of suggestion. Mind Control Freaks is slowly rolling out worldwide and is already on the air in Denmark, Sweden, South Africa and several countries in the Middle East. It will air in the U.K. in the autumn and I’m still hopeful Discovery picks it up for the U.S. and Canada. Check it out!
Liv Boeree is a member of Team PokerStars Pro