EPT10 London: So long conversation, this is the age of gadget poker

A recent column in the Times of London examined how hard it would be to give up modern technology for a week. Columnist Robert Crampton, along with his wife and two children, attempted to go without mobile phones, tablets, computers, iPods, satellite television, Netflix, games consoles, and every other modern gizmo, to return to the days of distraction free living, formerly known as the 1980s.

Despite initial teething trouble, and the hopeless task of disarming teenagers, they managed it. Or at least they did for three days, before the author and his wife both capitulated.

A walk around the EPT tournament room in the Grand Connaught Rooms poses a similar question - how did we survive in the days before gadgets - the phones, the iPads and the modern distractions that fill those apparently tedious minutes between each hand.

Marcin Horecki, with a book, keeping it old school

In the old days this was simple. The likes of Doyle, Sailor and Stu (well maybe not Stu), would engage in what they used to call "conversation", before this was replaced by noise cancelling headphones and phone contracts with free minutes and texts.

Conversation is now no longer the automatic reponse to the company of colleagues. The text books used to say that every moment spent not in a hand should be passed watching others. Actually the books still say that, but those same authors are now competing with Game of Thrones or the NFL, viewed on a discretely placed iPad. It looks like naval gazing, but so often the naval is the only place on which to balance the screen.

You sense that some suspect that they might be committing some social faux pas. They will sneak a look at their phone between hands and tap out a few words. Others will only stare glumly at a screen between hands, replacing the device in their pocket when busy deciding what to do with cards, almost apologetically. Others though will instruct a waiter to fetch a side table and prop up their portable cinema screen.

And what if we took these away? What if, contrary to the EPTs policy of free wireless in the tournament room, and maximum social media engagement, such devices were instead banned? Would players be able to manage? Would it perhaps improve the games of one or two of them? We will now never know, for we cannot get the genie back in the bottle, or, as Crampton found, you cannot take the phone from the teenager. It's part of life now, a fixture we cannot do without.

But while the author and his wife were plugged back into the modern world before the half way stage, they were pragmatic enough to realise that this was hardly anything to be ashamed of. Just as the poker player can take advantage of modern technology to learn, and develop their game, these gadgets are undoubtedly welcome in our daily lives. As Crampton said as an example, reverting back to a static land-line to make a phone call, rather than being able to multi-tasking on a mobile, is painfully frustrating. Why go back?

Strictly analogue: Viktor Blom

And so poker players won't go back. They'll still watch box sets and split their attention between the cards and social media. Perhaps even that old tactic of paying attention has had its day.

That said I've never seen Viktor Blom playing Angry Birds Star Wars II.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.