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Poker News: July 10, 2006

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Copyright © 2006 Canoe Inc.

HEADLINE: Poker faces put to test

In poker, it's common to see pros covering up to keep from revealing their emotions and tipping their hands.

Phil (Unabomber) Laak hides his head in a sweatshirt hood. Phil Hellmuth zips up a mock turtleneck, wears sunglasses and a black cap and plays with his hands in front of his mouth.

Now, one of several TV programs attempting to cash in on the poker craze is peeling away those defences with pulse monitors that players strap to their chests before taping.

Fox Sports Net's Poker Dome Challenge offers viewers further insight into the thinking of poker players, first revealed in how-to handbooks and then played out in real time with the widespread use of hole-card cameras beginning in 2003.

"These people are bare naked," said executive producer John Faratzis, an Emmy winner who turned down a job producing NFL games to run the 43-week series.

"The interesting thing for me is to see whether that accelerated heart rate and that attention shows on their face," he said. "You get to find out: How astute a competitor are they? Can they mask that? Or are they truly a calm individual?"

In taping for Week 2 of the series, which began Memorial Day weekend, amateur Andrew Rogers displayed the most uncanny composure.

The 34-year-old poker league manager from Montgomery, Minn., had a heart rate of 160 beats per minute while sipping water during breaks -- no doubt thanks to the two pots of coffee and six Red Bulls he said he drank before taping and a pack-a-day cigarette habit.

In one hand, Rogers looked down at an unsuited jack-two, while his opponent, World Series of Poker bracelet winner Perry Friedman, held an unsuited three-two.

Despite constant betting by Friedman, Rogers called every time, while his heart rate dropped to about 140.

He ended up winning the hand with just a high card.

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