WPT Boot Camp

For my birthday last year, Amy bought me an amazing present: A spot in the WPT Boot camp. I was supposed to go last August, but due to being sick - I had to postpone. The next convenient (and cash-game oriented) event was this past weekend in Atlantic City.

In short - it was AWESOME. I'm not what anyone would consider a poker expert, nor do I have short-term plans of quiting my job and becoming a professional poker player. I play occasionally, very rarely online - as I enjoy in-person games much more. I don't subscribe to Poker magazines - nor have I read many books on the topic...I understand the basics - but what I found out this weekend, was that I previously truly didn't have a clue.

The WPT Boot Camp is a weekend long training session run by poker professionals. The event I went to was mostly classroom style (Powerpoint slides and lecture), with mixed in "Live Labs" - which is live game analysis of the students. In my opinion, the structure of the weekend wasn't the forumla for success -- it was the ability of the pros to teach the game. They obviously bring in instant credibility, but they were so helpful, down-to-earth, and approachable. The pros at the event this past weekend were: Mark Seif , Nick Brancato , Rick Fuller, and Lee Childs.

I think I probably learned more than the average attendee. I felt like I was at the perfect stage to gain as much knowledge as possible. I'm sure there are a handful of attendees who felt they already mastered parts of the game - but I could use all the help I could get (with having an under-lying basis of basic poker strategy). Below is an over-view of the poker specific skills that I was introduced to:
  • Money management (Bankroll) and tracking your play/progress.
  • Difference between Tournament and Cash Games. While Tournaments are certainly the most publicized poker events -- the bread-and-butter of poker professional income is cash games. Tournaments are just too difficult to CONSISTANTLY win/cash.
  • Poker success is not about the mythical "reading people" hype. It's about analyzing situations and using statistics to help navigate these situations.
  • While the cards are definitely a crucial element of the game ... A players POSITION at the table is just as important ... I honestly never truly took so much stock in analyzing this before.
  • The typical "tells" people like to talk about (Pulse in neck, hands shaking, etc) are NOT close to the most important to the pros .... BETTING TELLS are ... (and I realize that before this weekend, I'm sure I had betting tells) ...This means, I was betting a certain way with good hands vs. another with semi-bluffs. My favorite phrase that was mentioned frequently by Nick B was: "Using deception through consistency" ... If you always bet the same way -- players can't tell if you're bluffing or have the nuts.
  • Betting Strategy ... Guidelines on betting/raising/etc to help be consistent.
  • Taking ego out of the equation. It's not the end of the world if you fold the best hand - it's gonna happen.
That's just a few examples. There is a booklet of information that was discussed that I'm going to continue to study. I'm probably going to play more online - as it offers a great arena for more practice - but I'm not going to be obsessed.

I really, really enjoyed my experience -- so thank you Amy for a great birthday present! While I definitely recommend the boot camps to anyone who enjoys poker strategy and getting better, my only hesitation is that the weekend is expensive. I think most of us looked at the cost as an investment that you can make back over time at the poker table, but, I definitely see that it's not cheap. It was great, though.



I am a pretty typical guy when it comes to shopping. I am definitely about shopping being more of a sprint than a marathon. I like simple, easy, no stress. I like sales. (My step-mother likes to say that I'm like my father in the sense that we both b-line to the sales rack as soon as we enter any store). Huge crowded stores, waiting to try things on, dealing with rude sales people, and $100 t-shirts are sure ways to get me to leave a store and never come back...

My current solution: Nordstrom's

Nordstrom's is known for their world-class customer service and an overall classy and enjoyable experience. They are not, however, an inexpensive option as they are considered a high-end department store. I have found, though, that they are not unreasonably priced - and I can ALWAYS find some kind of items on sale. I am a big fan of Hugo Boss -- and Nordstrom is always in full supply of their clothing...

Which leads me to my experience yesterday. I am in Chicago for work (and pleasure over the weekend). I had known this in advanced - so contacted Nordstrom's to find out if any major sales were going on while I was in town. Unfortunately, they were not - HOWEVER - their anniversary sale is occurring next week.... So ... I strolled over to the store yesterday in hopes to ask if I picked out items then -- could they put the items on hold for a week, ring it up, and send it to me? Answer: "Certainly can!" When I asked if alterations were included in sale items... Answer: "Certainly are!" "How much will it cost to ship it?" $9 (which can be waived apparently)... I ended up buying 3 Hugo Boss suits - all on sale (about $300 off each suit!)

The issue has always been that I live in Manhattan, don't have a car, so don't truly have access to a local Nordstrom's. So - I am forced to go to the one in Town Center when I'm home visiting the folks or when I travel to Chicago or Mountain View for work...

I know sometimes I post about things I don't like or things that annoy me -- so this post is meant to do the opposite. I'm a brand loyal fan of Nordstrom's and I wanted to pass that along.


Online Retail Sales vs. Total Retail Sales

I was talking to my buddy BDS yesterday, who was SHOCKED to hear that online sales were merely 6% of all retail sales. Yes - it's 2008 - and internet shopping is considered mainstream within the social circle of this blogs readership.... however...that's not the norm throughout the country. As an example, I don't know anyone outside of New York City who shops online for their groceries. I believe groceries are a $150 Billion industry....

As a quick glimpse into my everyday job... I'm passionately trying to convince marketing and merchandising executives that e-commerce (online sales) is not a good barometer of online advertising impact. Most marketers use online advertising to drive online sales - and offline advertising for everything else. Clearly more than 6% of shoppers use the internet as a shopping tool - even if they don't use it as the final buying mechanism... While most people will raise their hand when I ask "who in the room has ever used Google or the internet in general to research products that they later buy in the store."...however... you would all be surprised to know how difficult it is to truly convince these marketers to change their behavior...

Here is the breakdown of retail categories and the percentage of sales that online commerce represents (source: State of Online Retailing, Forrester/Shop.org)