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Imagine if you will a poker world where players actually spoke to one another at the table rather than listen to music, surf the web, update their Twitter or chat with their friends online between hands.

That world will become a reality on April 29 at the California State Poker Championship at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. That day the $350 NL Triple Stack Social Experiment Event will bring the game back to the way it was back before all the changes associated with the evolution of modern poker.

What’s the Social Experiment?

If you check out the structure sheet for the event over at Commerce Casino’s website, the Social Experiment Event is listed as “an attempt to create social interaction amongst players.”

To this end, all cell phones, headphones, sunglasses and hoodies will be banned during play. There are exceptions for those with special needs or where a device or item is medically necessary.

If anyone breaks the rules, there will be escalating penalties starting at 3 hands. After Level 8, all violators will be subject to a minimum one orbit penalty.

Savage is looking to promote a social environment during this event, meaning that people hold actual conversations involving spoken words rather than tapping a screen.

Of course, if you just can’t stand talking to folks, Savage says that complimentary earplugs are available:

Was he joking? I’d love to see someone actually request them to see. If you play and see someone get earplugs, please tweet us a photo – just away from the table as we don’t want you to get a penalty.

Back In The Day…

This type of event is an interesting experiment, and it’s a bit funny that it’s being called an experiment considering it isn’t all that long ago that the poker world wasn’t dominated by technology.

Thinking back to when I started playing poker live in casinos in 2006, I don’t remember very many people wearing headphones and hardly anyone did anything with their phones.

I remember several pros showing off their brand new 3G iPhones at the 2008 WSOP. During one of the mixed events, there was a discussion about whether the iPhone would be banned from tournament play. Others wanted PokerStars or Full Tilt to make a real money iPhone app to play online poker.

Hoodies and sunglasses were the big “antisocial” items in many of the rooms I played and players often were ridiculed for wearing either. Few things are funnier than someone wearing a hoodie and sunglasses playing $2-$4 Limit Hold’em.

It wasn’t long after I started playing that smartphones and headphones started to be regular accessories at the tables along with those wanting to dress like Phil Laak. It became the new normal and there are probably some of you that can’t imagine the game without these “anti-social” devices.

Nice Experiment But Will Never Become More Than a Novelty

Not surprisingly, there are those that vehemently oppose this tournament format. Personally, it is one that I would love to try out.

President of partypoker LIVE John Duthie is among the supporters and called the initiative #goodforthegame. However, as Savage replied below, chances are this event will be little more than a novelty.

Besides the fact that electronic devices, sunglasses and hoodies are a part of the game, the reality is that some are just not social poker players. Some of us prefer to play the game while listening to music or otherwise occupying ourselves.

In addition, there’s only so much you can talk about before you start getting bored or start annoying other players. What do you do at that point? Sit quietly and stare awkwardly at them? Looking at the screen of your phone or tablet is less creepy.

I’d love to see more of these events offered as a novelty event akin to the Colossus at the WSOP. A one-time event that’s fun to play but not something you’d want every day.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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