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WPT Boot Camp

by Mike Sexton |  Published: Mar 22, 2005


As a professional poker player, host of, and commentator on the World Poker Tour, I have been fortunate to see the "sport" of poker evolve at the speed of light over the last several years. With the introduction of the WPT on the Travel Channel, Wednesday night has become "poker night" in homes across the country. In particular, no-limit Texas hold'em has taken the country by storm.

Poker and the ability to succeed at it cross all age and gender lines. All one has to do is watch the World Poker Tour to see that the champions have ranged from longtime players to a new breed of young guns who have taken the competitive poker world by storm.

I am asked all the time, "How can I improve my tournament play?" That question is now easily answered: "Attend a WPT Boot Camp!"

The WPT Boot Camp, the "fast track to the final table," is the brainchild of Ron Rubens and Steve Berman. Upon meeting them, I was impressed with their passion for poker and their vision for where it could go. They saw that the business of poker is growing hand in hand with the game itself. The time was right to create a way for today's amateur players to accelerate their learning curve. When asked about being an instructor for the WPT Boot Camp, I was immediately interested.

Mike Sexton (center) is flanked by Ron Rubens (left) and

Steve Berman (right), WPT Boot Camp founders.

With the introduction of my new book, Shuffle Up and Deal, which is available in bookstores in March, they asked if I would assist in developing an intense two-day course, teach a few WPT Boot Camps, and identify some great players to help teach other Boot Camps. I agreed. Poker history was made Jan. 26-27 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, with the premiere edition of the WPT Boot Camp.

This first WPT Boot Camp was completely sold out. WPT Boot Camps are limited to 50 students, so that we can really teach them and not just tell stories to a mass audience. To my surprise, we had students from Florida, Nevada, Boston, Los Angeles, and even Denmark!

I explained to the students that winning takes effort and that most poker players are like most golfers: They hate to practice, and just like to play. Poker players who are interested in investing in their own skills and improving their game in two intense, fun days will absolutely love the WPT Boot Camp experience.

We developed the course in such a way that students are taken through a progression of all aspects of the game. We do a lot of this through lab play, in which students are given the exact cards, chip stacks, and community cards as some famous players at WPT final tables. Once they play their hands out, they watch actual WPT footage of the world's greatest players playing out the exact same situation. This is not only a great tool for learning and discussion, but quite entertaining, as well.

As we will do at all WPT Boot Camps, we held our own private freeroll tournament, in which students played for five WPT satellite seats of different levels. We began with five tables of 10, and in the end, a player we had aptly named "Nine Lives" (for his ability to survive time and time again) succumbed to a young man by the name of Gary Lieberman. As the first WPT Boot Camp final table progressed, I could not resist. I took the microphone and called the action as if it were 9 p.m. on Wednesdays on the Travel Channel.

Gary was rewarded with a WPT satellite seat, and if he can outplay nine other players, he will gain entry into a $10,000 WPT tournament event. The other top finishers were rewarded with lower-level WPT satellite seats and some wonderful WPT chip sets.

In the days following the first WPT Boot Camp, the e-mails started flowing. Students were already sharing success stories and examples of how they had used what was taught at the WPT Boot Camp to become totally different and much more highly skilled players. Here are just a few of the many exciting testimonials that were received:

Without getting into a play-by-play of the night, I will tell you that the Boot Camp was entirely instrumental in my game last night. I saw the table and players from a vastly different perspective. Understanding my position, the other players at the table, and the pot odds, I raised smartly and picked up plenty of tells. At times it felt like I was hovering over the table, in command and in view of everything that was going on. I've never felt like that at the poker table.

This first time at the final table covered two-thirds of the cost of the Camp, a pretty dag gum good return on investment.- Joe Bryns

The bottom line is that WPT Boot Camp instructors Mike Sexton and Alex Outhred taught me how to dramatically improve my poker game in only two days. This instruction is already paying off; not only did I win my first tournament less than 24 hours after completing the WPT Boot Camp course, but I now enjoy playing poker more than ever before! - Christopher Todd

Before the Boot Camp, I had been playing poker off and on for about five months. Since there are no casinos close to me, I've had to play online. In those five months, I've won about $600. In the first week after the Boot Camp, I won more than $5,000. Needless to say, the Boot Camp has already paid for itself. My enthusiasm and confidence for the game have greatly increased, and that's not the result of just the money. I now feel I have a much better understanding of the intricacies of the game. I now read any poker book I can get my hands on. Anybody who enjoys poker owes it to himself to attend the Boot Camp. He will come out with a greater enjoyment of the game, and winning more money doesn't hurt, either. Had a great time. Thanks again. - Tony Traylor

Having received this feedback after just the first WPT Boot Camp, I have no doubt, and look forward to the day, that I will look out to the final table of a WPT event and ask myself, "Where do I know that player from?" And then it will hit me – he was a student at a WPT Boot Camp!

I really enjoy helping enthusiastic players improve their game. I look forward to teaching more WPT Boot Camps and helping poker players everywhere begin their "fast track to the final table."

WPT Boot Camps will be held all across the country. We will go back to South Florida, and will also travel to California, Las Vegas, the Northeast, the Midwest and anywhere that poker players exist. We have even been asked to run a few private WPT Boot Camps for corporate and private events.

To read more student testimonials, to learn more about WPT Boot Camp, or to reserve your WPT Boot Camp seat, go to or call 866-WPT.Boot.

Take care. spades

WPT Boot Camp is a trademark of the World Poker Tour. Mike Sexton is the host of ("the world's largest poker room") and a commentator on the World Poker Tour (every Wednesday night on the Travel Channel).