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What I Learned At Camp (WPT Boot Camp, That is...)
Trust me when I say that I know the basics of poker. I understand betting fundamentals, which hands are better than others, etc. However, I had never taken the time to learn about pot odds, the importance of position, and the vital role that emotion plays at the table. Needless to say, I didn't play much, and when I did, I didn't win!
When the opportunity arose for me to attend a WPT Boot Camp for American Poker Player Magazine, I knew that I would have good material for an article and that my game would benefit greatly. The two-day class was geared toward all players – beginners and experienced players alike. Perfect!
School is in Session
The class was made up of about 50 students and two members of the media, myself included. There was an extensive variety of people enrolled in the seminar - young and old, male and female, novices and experienced players - all of whom felt that they could gain something from the class.
Some students came to Los Angeles from Georgia to participate, a gentleman from Michigan with his family in tow for a vacation arranged around the class, and local Californians attended as well. One of the attendees, Faith, whose children paid the Boot Camp fee for her recent birthday, came to improve her online poker skills and learn more about playing live games. It seemed that everyone had unique reasons for being there and different goals that they hoped to achieve.
Everyone was extremely attentive during the lectures, taking notes and asking questions. The lectures were broken up in order to incorporate live labs at the poker tables, giving everyone the chance to play with one of the instructors and learn as the action was taking place. People gain so much information from the direct one-on-one teaching that is done in these real-life situations. There is a logical flow of information that you get from the instructors, from the very beginning before you ever get your cards.
The entire outline of the lecture is reinforced in a workbook that is given to all of the students, with enough space provided for note-taking and problem-solving. There is even a live tournament at the end of the first day for students to compete for prizes. Besides giving students a chance to play in a real tournament environment, it gives them the opportunity to put into practice the lessons from the day and at the same time allows the instructors to observe each table, answer any questions (as long as you’re not in a hand), and discuss the play with you when you’re done.
Wait, what? I'm on my own? Eeek! While I had just absorbed a great deal of information and feel that I had a better grasp of the game and its intricacies, I was nervous about putting it all into practice.
Going out into the wide world of poker, I had a few things on my side. I had knowledge, more than I ever had before, about betting, pot odds, position, and tells. And these important lessons came straight from the pros - people who make a living from the game. I also had the workbook containing notes that I had taken which I could refer back to and study.
I knew the basics of poker going into the class, but the lessons I learned over the course of the weekend were eye-opening. I had a newfound confidence in my abilities and feel ready to put my education to the test.
Let the games begin!
A Fellow Classmate's Success
During my WPT Boot Camp experience, I met Henry Blaskowski. He sincerely wanted to improve his poker game, and he attended the Boot Camp with an open mind and the willingness to learn.
Although Henry e-mailed me only a few weeks after the course to say that there had been very little change in his results, he contacted me again a few months after that to let me know that his game has improved greatly.
"I am now progressing much further in tournaments, I regularly win sit-n-go's, and my cash game is much better," Henry wrote. "I had my best month of poker ever."
While he attributes his improvements to several factors, he admits that WPT Boot Camp "was vital." He adds, "Certain lessons from the class pop into my head at key moments to help me make the right decisions."
What more could you ask for?