Pokerography: Distraction is the enemy of insight

In this week’s Pokerography series, Lee Davy takes a look at Bernadette Jiwa’s new book Hunch: Turn Your Everyday Insights Into The Next Big Thing and reminds us of the importance of switching that mobile phone off at the poker table.Pokerography: Distraction is the Enemy of Insight

You know that kid Haley Joel Osment who can see dead people? Well, I’m like that, only the people I see lying in my bed in the early hours of the morning – usually an old lady with rotting teeth – are not dead – they are hallucinations.

And, no, I don’t take drugs.

After one hallucination too many, I decided it was time to find out what the hell was wrong with me. I sent a blood sample to the very reputable Raymond Hilu in Barcelona and a hair sample to Nova Detox.

Last week, I got the results back.

I have a few health problems, and my body is making me aware of this by sending hallucinations into my bedroom to freak me out, and by giving me hypothyroidism.

But why?

What is the cause?

There are many, but the one that I wasn’t expecting was a hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields. If you ever come to my gaff for a cup of herbal tea, you will find me sitting in a chair covered in a radiation blanket like Chuck from Better Call Saul.

Mobile Phones Fry Your Brain

Who hasn’t read a headline like that?

“Put it on speaker phone.”

“Turn it on airplane mode.”

I know, my wife sounds like my Mum.

But after learning I was suffering from a sensitivity to Electric Magnetic Fields (EMFs), the first thing I did was to start ignoring my phone, which incidentally is more likely to fry my balls than my brain.

I felt like I was missing a limb. I found myself lost in pockets of time feeling anxious because I had forgotten how to think.

There is a reason people have their biggest insights when taking a shower.

It’s the only time you don’t have your phone.

The Social Experiment

On the weekend, The Commerce Casino did something brave. They hosted a $315 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) tournament where mobile phones, and a broad variety of other gizmos and gadgets, were banned in an attempt to improve the social experience for those playing.

In short, talk more.Pokerography: Distraction is the Enemy of Insight

The organisers were so confident that people would surrender their mobile phones as contraband they slapped a $100,000 guarantee on the event, and they nailed it when 511 entrants took part.

Reading through this report by Haley Hintze over at Flushdraw it seems the Tournament Director, Matt Savage, thought it was a resounding success and plans to host another one in the near future.

But I think the Commerce Card Room team missed one of the valuable lessons that playing poker without a mobile device can serve, and I want to thank Bernadette Jiwa for inadvertently pointing it out to me.


Jiwa is the Galadriel of the marketing and branding world. I don’t know what it is about this magnificent woman, but she never sells me anything and I buy everything she has to sell.

Last week, she sent me an advanced copy of her new book Hunch: Turn Your Everyday Insights Into The Next Big Thing and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

I have been struggling with a branding issue with a company I founded for months now. At first, I focused my attention on the problem – nothing happened. And then, I decided to let my sub-conscious do the work for me, only there was a slight problem.

With the exception of my meditation practice and when I am lying in bed talking to dead people I am always doing something. If there is one minute of downtime in my life I am listening to a podcast. I can’t remember the last time I made love to my life without my earphones on listening to my latest audiobook.

And then I read this sentence in Hunch where Jiwa talks about a woman walking down the street blindly tapping away on her mobile phone and I saw myself in locked in the pages of her book like Morten Harket in Take on Me.

“Like many of us living in our always-on world, she was there and yet not there at all. A living breathing paradox, immersed in distractions, with no time to notice anything, even herself.”

Noticing Less and Missing More

We are all cyborgs, poker players more than most.

Jiwa believes we are allowing technology to hijack our minds, and we don’t need a Facebook poll to test her theory. If our minds are focused on our technology, they can’t be focused on anything else.

Distraction is the enemy of insight – Bernadette Jiwa

As Jiwa postulates we’re notiving less and missing more. It’s not good news for a poker career. If you are constantly on your phone at the poker table you are missing opportunities and more importantly undervaluing time to think and reflect.

Researchers believe some people check their mobile phones up to 150 times per day. When I look at Cate Hall’s Twitter feed I imagine her sat on her bed waiting for the Twitter button to light up on her phone so she can get her quick hit. It’s obvious why she quit her legal career, there is no way she would have gotten any work done.

When our attention is on our phone then it cannot be on the game. The one key aspect missing from the media relating to the Social Experiment was the value in players finally being able to truly focus on the game – to think, and allow insights to flow into the space where the EMFs are normally camped out ready to blast the fuck out of your brain cells.

There is no doubt about it, a poker player loses an edge when they decide to focus attention elsewhere. And that edge is not lost only at the poker table. It is lost in life. And life is poker.

Once I unplugged I felt liberated. I went for walks in the park and allowed my sub-conscious to do its job. I no longer have a branding problem, and I haven’t seen a dead person since I started turning my Wi-Fi off at night.

Is it all bullshit?

The EMF stuff?


But I think it more than a Hunch that we can be so much more if we allow ourselves to think, reflect and turn our everyday insights into the next big thing.