It may say Barry Carter underneath the headline, but that isn't really my name, let me introduce myself:
I am Phil Ivey.
OK, you don't believe it, but I do, because I have been hypnotised to believe I am Phil Ivey.
Well, not quite, I don't actually think I am Phil and I haven't recently been involved in a controversial Golf wager, but my subconscious mind is trying to emulate him now.
As much as I was looking forward to it, the natural sceptic in me had his doubts about hypnotism. I was expecting to walk into some sort of hippy squat with joss sticks and sitar music, in fact I was welcomed by a man in a very sharp suit in a very professional looking office.
Martin, who specialised in phobias and sports performance, sat me down and made me comfortable, he explained in very simple terms what we were going to go through and how/why it will work. We started with a very simple hypnosis technique where he told me I had magnets in my fingers, I put them together and genuinely couldn't prize them apart again – from this moment on I was a believer.
The first thing Martin showed me was Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which I had previously dismissed as gobbledegook. NLP is teaching your mind to associate some sort of external trigger, in my case it was rubbing my thumb and index finger together, with a feeling. So if you have a confidence issues, all you would have to do is click your fingers and all of a sudden you are the Fonz.
In my case all I have to do is rub my fingers together now and I get a warm tingle inside which feels like a big hug, after about 30 seconds I am overcome with a rosey feeling of wellbeing, I find it hard not to smile. I actually have no idea what this is going to help with in terms of poker, but man it feels good. To be able to rub my fingers together and all of a sudden get a free legal high was worth the consultation fee alone.
I was also shown a form of NLP which will be very handy; how to all of a sudden release any tension, fear or other negative emotion. Basically when I put my fingers to my forehead, look upwards and sing 'happy birthday' in my head, within about 3 seconds I am feeling relaxed and focussed again. Perfect for when you take a bad beat or someone is trying to grind your gears at the table. You can actually do this really subtly, so as not to look a berk at the table.
With my two newly learnt powers of self satisfaction (having previously only had the one which most of us lads learn as teenagers) it was down to my actual hypnotism. Hypnotism is the putting to sleep of your conscious (left side) of your brain to get messages to the unconscious (right) side of your brain. Throughout the entire procedure I could hear and remember everything he said.
When I was deep Martin was telling me that from now on I would be 100% focussed and confident at the table, that every time I sat down I would step into the body of Phil Ivey (I had explained earlier that Mr Ivey is perhaps the most focussed player on the planet) and emulate him at the table, studying my opponents and making correct decisions. Everything I knew to be good decision making in poker I would be reminded of every time I play and I would not allow myself to be distracted.
The whole procedure seemed like 5 minutes, I was then told that I had been under for about 40. I awoke feeling refreshed and, well, off my face. I left the hypnosis centre buzzing, smiling and feeling fantastic.
It was totally worth the 80 quid I paid for the session for the experience on its own. I am amazed now that I can actually rub my fingers together and feel a warm sense of wellbeing, and I have been doing it every moment I can (much like when I first discovered my own form of NLP as a teenager).
Has it made me a better player? I don't know yet, the hypnosis will apparently start to work the second I sit at a poker table. So far I have only had a 1 hour session online, where I did quadruple my buy-in. I did play well, but I think most people would because they are more conscious of how they are playing following something like hypnosis anyway (I also caught some lucky cards).
Next week I will be hitting a few big live tournaments, this is where I will be able to assess if anything seems different. If you are out and about next week keep any eye out for the weird looking guy rubbing his fingers and giggling like a stoner sat at your table.
Ed note: $50 totally free when you download Titan Poker - no catches!