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.
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.