April 2007
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LOL Trickaments

On tonight’s show, Derren Brown went to Las Vegas and brainwashed an American lady into thinking that red was black.  The effect was dramatic.  She was pretty freaked out to see that her red car had apparently been resprayed whilst she enjoyed an evening at the Peppermill.  But what the cameras didn’t show is the complete meltdown, possibly followed by night in jail, she must have had trying to play roulette shortly afterwards.

In the Trick or Treat feature, he apparently taught a 75 year old granny to play poker.  For this show victims are asked to choose from two cards to pick whether they’ll get something nice or something nasty.  I have to admit I thought the whole series would be manipulated so it was always a trick, but tonight’s sweet old lady got a treat.

There’s no psychology involved in forcing the choice: both cards are identical, with a cunning and overly elaborate typeface used so that it reads "trick" when held one way up and "treat" when flipped over.  I confess: I had to pause the show using Sky+ and turn my head right round to check this out, and had to use Google to find out that the word I didn’t know I was looking for is "ambigram".

Super Gran is given a crash course in Texas Hold’em and then dropped into a tournament situation with five professionals.  Probably not ones you’d have heard of.  Derren has taught her superlative reading skills, which is apparently enough to ensure that she will win a made-for-TV crapshoot poker-style tournament.  They said it lasted a 90 minutes start to finish, fast even for a six-handed tournament.  We only got to see three hands.

She called an all-in bet with a king-high flush draw.  Perhaps she learned to recognise weakness from the bettor, but depending on stack sizes and money in the pot this could be a pretty standard call anyway.  They didn’t say.  We don’t know how much she’d learned about playing draws.  Perhaps it looked like the nuts against a player with a twitch, but with one overcard and a draw you’re rarely a favourite.  Except the few times you come up against a smaller unpaired flush draw.  Which she did.

Facing an all-in preflop with K9s, Derren’s horse makes the call.  The other player has T7o.  Given the emphasis on how good these other players all are, we have to assume that he made an automatic push with a short stack, so this was probably an automatic call.

With AQ on a flop of A88, our hero decides that her hand is good.  Maybe I still have a lot to learn, but I’m going broke here every time the other guy has AK or any hand with an 8.

She came second.  A one in six chance to win, and she still missed the glory by one.

A similarly close-but-still-busto result in Derren’s Russian Roulette stunt would have been much more interesting.

The current UK series is available for free catch-up on 4oD.  Apparently a new six-part series is being made for US television by Sci-Fi channel to air in July.  Perfect timing!