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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

The Round Table - The WSOP Academy Schools - The Bike

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I received an invite last weekend to attend the World Series of Poker Academy weekend camp at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. The last one I attended was a day camp during the Aruba Poker Classic a year ago so I was interested in stopping by and freshening up my game.

The camp kicked off a little after 9am on Saturday September 6th with Annie Duke stopping by my seat on her way up to the mic and laughing about the fact that she was drinking tea out of a beer mug. She also expressed her interest in this camp being local for her. “I’m really happy to have the camp here in LA because I always have to travel to Vegas for them.”

A little over 60 people were spread out across the poker tables set up in the ballroom, the same location for the Legends of Poker. Maybe we all could pick something up from the successful pros that had been sitting in this very room a few weeks ago.

Duke started her lecture explaining that she was going to readjust the way we thought about the game. Her morning seminar discussed pre-flop strategy and bluffing theory.

She related a lot of her teachings to real life situations, comparing real estate to position (you always want to be able to see the first offer and be able to make a counteroffer.)

Duke made a big stand about suited connectors, which lots of pros and amateurs are very interested in playing. She told everyone not to be fooled; people who flop top pair with hands like 9-10 suited get themselves into trouble. She also explained that even if you were to hit your hand you still don’t know if you are best.

During Duke’s lecture, blackjack turned poker player Hollywood Dave showed up for a tune up as did poker host and high stakes cash game player Ali Nejad and recent bracelet winner Kenny Tran, both of whom would be teaching later in the day.

On breaks, people playing poker at the Bike came up to those attending the camp and asked questions about it, and of course wanted to get a photo taken with either Duke or Tran.
Tran, Nejad and Duke held live hand demonstrations during the afternoons, sitting down at the poker tables and acting as dealers to the attendees, discussing their decisions to play or not play hands and their advice for the most profitable way to play each hand.

After lunch former FBI Profiler, and expert on nonverbal communication, Joe Navarro held a seminar on reading people and watching for live tells. I found this part of the camp super interesting and informative. I don’t want to give away all of the camp secrets, but I will share some things.

Navarro advised looking at your cards out of sequence because you don’t want everyone looking at you to see how you react. “Most of you don’t know your own tells,” he shared.

He also taught about body language and how people react when they like their hand versus discomfort with their hand. Pay attention when people are rubbing their face - they may not like their hand!

After Navarro’s seminar Kenny Tran and Ali Nejad took over and dissected a video of a WSOP event with Daniel Negreanu and Lee Watkinson at the final table. Nejad shared with the crowd that while waiting to teach, Tran hit up the $5-$10 tables and won over $5000.

The day concluded with a tournament. Even with its fast structure it still took several hours to reach the final table. I busted 10th and won a pair of Oakley sunglasses. The prizes for the tournament were sunglasses 10th – 4th, 2nd and 3rd places won a free attendance at a future WSOP camp and 1st place got a seat into a $5000 tournament of their choice.

Mike Reiner from Pahrump, Nevada ended up taking the whole thing down. Reiner won his way into the event at the last WSOP camp he attended and this time turned his freeroll into a seat into a future event. He showed persistence and attendance of the camp pays off. He said he was planning on playing the Caesars $5000 event, so we may be hearing his name again soon!

Day 2 included more lessons from Annie, post-flop strategy and more live hand demonstrations from her and Tran and Nejad.
I sat at Tran’s table for a bit and instead of dealing hands he fielded questions from the eager table of beginner players. Tran told some of his favorite stories about bluffing people off of huge pots. He shared that he relies very strongly on his instincts and reading people, and even the pros get nervous sometimes when they are trying to pull off big bluffs.

The camp was a huge success, as all of the attendees seemed thoroughly excited about the weekend they had just spent learning from their favorite pros.

It’s an interesting thought - you could hire these players to give you private lessons for over $20,000, but by attending a WSOP camp you are able to do it for less than $2000. The academy gives you’re the option to have bracelet winners and multimillionaires teach you the game and participate in a tournament potentially worth hundreds of thousands.

*Happy Birthday, Annie - the PokerWorks Staff wishes you a million years of happiness, health, and wealth!*

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