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WPT Boot Camps offer poker lessons with tough love

24 October 2006

By Aaron Todd

Crispin Leyser warned everyone as they sat down at the poker table that he wasn't going to be afraid to slap some wrists. He wasn't kidding.

Leyser, one of four instructors at the WPT Boot Camp at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., had just finished a 90-minute lecture that focused on two key No Limit Hold'em Tournament lessons:

  1. If you are the first person to enter a pot, always raise.
  2. Never play weak hands in early position.

On the first hand of the following "lab," a player in first position just called with an ace and a six, breaking both of Leyser's rules. Before any other player could act, Leyser leaned over and hit the player on the wrist.

"We call it Boot Camp because we really do try to ram it home when people are making mistakes again and again and again," Leyser says. "We're not going to stand for it, and we take it kind of personally."

Leyser continued dishing out punishment for the remainder of the camp. Bill Delaney of Bridgeport, Conn., won the camp's multi-table tournament to earn a $1,000 satellite tournament entry fee, but remarked that his "hands were bloody" because Leyser kept slapping them every time he lifted his cards off the table.

The lessons the instructors teach are certainly not secrets. They are available in numerous poker strategy books and at a considerable discount when compared to the two-day boot camp's $1,695 price tag. But what you can't get from a book is immediate feedback and criticism for decisions you make, which are offered during labs where campers play sample hands.

"Not everyone learns the same way," says Ron Rubens, co-creator of the WPT Boot Camps. "Some people can listen to a lecture or read a book and get the concepts completely, but most people need to have multiple simulations; they need to see it, watch it, touch it. They need to have someone look at them and tell them 'No-no-no-no-no! Don't ever play that hand in that position.'"

And while the player in the first lab who earned the wrist slap won that pot, Leyser insists that eventually the odds will catch up to the players who make incorrect plays.

"Yes, once in awhile, you'll get rewarded for making bad decisions," Leyser says. "But in the long run, you can't become a successful player if you keep making those mistakes."

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WPT Boot Camps offer poker lessons with tough love is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.