Ever dream of grabbing your driver and joining Annika or Tiger on the first tee? Or picking up a racquet and taking on Andre or Serena? Ready to go one-on-one with Venus?
Not likely, huh?
Well, how about raising World Series of Poker event winner, Cyndy Violette? Or re-raising Clonie Gowen, winner of a World Poker Tour event? Or sitting across from poker’s winningest woman, Annie Duke, and staring her down after you’ve gone “all in?”
These things you can do if you sign up for a fantasy poker camp in Vegas. Oh, yes, and after you plunk down up to three grand for the privilege of learning from, and playing against, some of the top poker pros in the world.
Though the lady pros are there, there are some other Big Dogs as well. Annie and her brother, top pro Howard Lederer, host a camp. Cyndy Violette hooks up with Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth, Jr. at his Camp Hellmuth. Clonie Gowen teams up with Mike Sexton and the World Poker Tour Boot Camp.
As you might suspect, the men outnumber the women about 8:1 but the competitive spirit affects everyone in the room. Two to three hundred “campers” sign up for each experience.
Annie Duke addresses how men play against women. In her autobiography, “How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker,” she talks about facing two kinds of men: the ones who want to go easy on “the little lady,” and those who want to kill the little lady. The first group wants to flirt and date the woman; the second group wants to show that men are far, far, far, superior to women at the poker table, by Gosh.
Annie runs over both groups. She can flirt with the best of them. Some flirters will say, “Hey, don’t bet. I’ve got a full house.” This saves Annie money. The second group, the chauvinists, go on “tilt:” machoness overpowers logic and Annie just sits back, waits for a good hand, and crushes them.
Lederer and Duke run a fantasy and reality camp in Vegas a couple times a year. It is fantasy because you can fulfill your dream to take on the best, and reality as well because they lecture, play beside you in camp competitions, turn over their hands, and tell you how they approached a given situation. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, the 2000 World Series of Poker Championship event winner, shows up to help out, as do Phil Gordon, the co-host of Bravo TV’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” and another World Series winner, Huck Seed (his real name, honest).
The pros love it when a mere mortal breaks them at the table, dropping them out of the camp tournaments. It is an occasion for great glee among the campers. How about shuffling back across the threshold, dropping your suitcase, and telling your spouse and kids, “My tens in the pocket held up against ‘The Professor.’”
Most of the campers are not ready to quit their day jobs. These are recreational players who want to play better and move up to higher levels. If they are playing at $5 and $10 tables now, they want to move up to $10 and 20, or $20 and $40 competitions. One Camp Hellmuth grad is on his way to a $100,000 net poker year but keeps his job as a software developer.
What about turning pro? Well, it sure looks inviting when you see million dollar wins and realize the growing number of business opportunities that the stars now have through an array of agents, publicists, and business managers. They endorse online poker games, clothing lines, and spirits. Lederer has sold 500,000 copies of his instructional DVD’s. Annie Duke has a new autobiography out, is producing a horror film, and is endorsing a Coca Cola product.
Yet, every pro will tell the story of being broke multiple times. Lederer cleaned toilets and slept on park benches in New York while he was learning the game.Barry Greenstein, author of Ace on the River, and a World Poker Tour winner, talks of having been a “negative millionaire.”
It takes an enormous bankroll to play with The Big Dogs. Phil Gordon says $500,000 for openers and that sounds a bit on the light side.
So, you’ve ponied up three grand or so. Is that a lot? Well, how have your mutual funds done this year? What would your return on investment be if you bought that fixer-upper down the street? How much have you lost at poker this year to date? How much more will you lose if you don’t take such a course?
Grab your baseball cap and shades and head for Vegas. The Professor and the Brat are ready to show you what makes them successful.
Then, you’re on your own.
Shuffle up and deal. Good luck.
© 2005 Murphy James