Immediately prior to the upcoming "Battle of Malta" live event, there will be a three day, intensive "Boot Camp", aimed at pro players, or players looking to make poker their full time careers, and it will be taught by a stellar list of online superstars.
Online phenoms don't get much bigger than Daniel "jungleman12" Cates, Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin, and Max "altiFC/KidPoker705" Altergott, and they will be leading the course, which will take in PLO fundamentals, PLO heads-up strategy, and NLHE heads-up strategy.
Cates and Ashton both feature among the biggest ever winners online, with over $12m in highstakes winnings between them at Full Tilt Poker alone, and Altergott is a highly respected NLHE player who regularly plays and wins at the highest stakes online, both at Full Tilt and PokerStars. He also recently triumphed in his first major live event, the Super High Roller at this years EPT Grand Final, for over $2.2 million.
The Battle of Malta takes is scheduled for Sept. 26-29, 2013, at the Portomaso Casino in Malta. For more information about the upcoming bootcamp - visit the official BoM Bootcamp Website
We caught up with the three lead instructors to ask them a few questions prior to the boot camp:
Daniel "jungleman12" Cates
Hi Daniel – It’s great to have you back at the nosebleed tables of Full Tilt & PokerStars. You seem to have picked up where you left off and have already won over $1m this year between the two sites. Do you think the big bet games have evolved since your return or are you finding the games as easy to beat as you obviously did pre-black Friday?
- They certainly have evolved, in particular NL has. At first it seemed that my winrate was not as high as it was since pre-black friday. I changed multiple things and came up with new ideas over time, and now it appears that I am killing the sites once again for over 10bb ev/100. I think, however, in addition, variance has increased because of the increased looseness of both plo/nl.
We thought there was going to be more action in the “durrrr challenge” this month, with talk online that you’d agreed a specified number of hands per month – was that just a rumour? If not, what’s the latest?
- It was not a rumour, durrrr simply did not uphold what he promised to do. I am trying to work with him to complete this challenge and will hopefully have good news in the future.
You played quite a bit of heads-up PLO with Gus Hansen prior to black Friday – do you find it curious that he has basically played no heads-up PLO since his return to Full Tilt when he seemed to be crushing that game for millions? Do you think he should revert to PLO or do you believe, as others have suggested, that he was just on a hot streak.
- No, I think it's mostly a function of the game. He played some with isildur, etc I think. I think Gus is better than many people think, even though he's lost a lot of money he is clearly a thinking player and shows signs of a good poker player. I think for plo he was obviously on a heater, but his skill is underestimated. In addition, hes allegedly one of the best backgammon/games players in the world. I think he should do whatever he thinks is best, to be honest.
For a guy who can earn several hundred thousand dollars in a day playing online, why choose to impart your incredibly valuable knowledge to fellow poker players in a boot camp at such a (relatively ) low price? Don’t you worry that these guys might end up at your table, armed with the tools to significantly reduce your edge?
- Well, I can't give away all my secrets :) I happen to be in town around this time and it seems like a fun thing to do that would benefit everybody.
Max "altiFC" Alltergot
Max, obviously you’re best known for your high stakes NLHE antics at PokerStars and Full Tilt, but you recently took down the super high roller at the EPT Grand Final for over $2.2m in what seems to have been your first major live event – any plans to do the tournament circuit, or are you sticking mainly to online?
- I want to play more events like this in the future, as it is a lot of fun to compete against the brightest minds in the poker world and meet them afterwards for a drink or two. Moreover the places where the tournaments are held are beautiful!
You’ve also played a fair bit in the ongoing $400/$800 NLHE games over at Full Tilt. These games play insanely high – with +$400k pots a daily occurrence. Is it fun to play in these games, or do you feel any additional pressure with the stakes this high?
- It's great fun to play in games with all of these really strong players. I always loved the competition and being in a situation where I have to give my best, so I don't feel any extra pressure.
Although of course high stakes NLHE never went away, it seems that more and more of the guys who played almost exclusively at the high stakes PLO tables are coming back to NLHE. Do you think that as someone who has concentrated on far more on NLHE that you have a decent edge over those who have perhaps not been as active?
- It is a big mistake to underestimate these players, which I have done in the past. You have to remeber that we are talking about world class players that made their first steps in Holdem games, where previously they had been very, very successful, just like they have been since in the PLO games.Generally they are very smart, thinking, players who can still play very creative poker at NL. I respect them a lot.
It seems that more and more of the best NLHE players are coming out of Germany, when formerly a lot of the best German player were Limit players. I recall that quite a few of them learned from each other and shared strategy – is it the same with the new breed of NLHE players - and do you plan to release any secret German NLHE tips at boot camp? ;)
- I have also noticed that many strong heads up players come from Germany, and generally speaking I believe that Germans have a good work ethic, and that's one of the main reasons why are on top. Most of them I don't know in person, and I can't say how they improved their game or where they learned to play as good as they do. What you can expect from me in the Boot Campe is that I am going to give my best to help anyone who will participate and wants to work on his game.
Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin
Ashton – thanks for taking time out to answer a couple of questions for us.
You’ve been absent from the high stakes online poker scene since Black Friday. Obviously you still love the game, but I recall a card player interview in which you said you saw your future in Poker in a live, more social setting. Was this a decision you had already come to, or did Black Friday force you to re-evaluate things and come to that conclusion?
- Months before black Friday hit I found myself not putting in nearly the volume I did in 2008-2010. I was attending college, wrestling almost daily and began great friendships with guys on my team. I didn't play a hand of online poker for about 18 months. I did however play a lot of live poker and did very well in any plo game I played during this period. plo in Vegas during the summer is a goldmine for an expert player with patience. preflop hand selection is pretty important. Playing nuttier hands that aren't going to get overstated or overflushed is imperative compared to the 6 max/shorthanded online games where hand reading and balance are much more important. I prefer online deep, ante tables to anything else.
That said, seeing the big action day in, day out at Full Tilt, is any part of you (specifically the competitive part we all know you possess) tempted to grab a virtual seat and show these young upstarts what made you one of the biggest high stakes winners of all time (theASHMAN103 is still the 7th biggest high stakes winner in all tracked games since 2007 on Full Tilt Poker with close to $5m in winnings)?
- I really want to make money and I feel as if playing PLO is my only option in the difficult climate of online poker. I know that the money I win won't be the numbers of previous years, but I have full confidence that I will dominate the stakes I play until I get to the absolute top tier. In the the past 12 months I've won over 10,000bb in about 100,000 hands of mistakes and have done well in live games.
Can you tell our readers a little of what they can expect over the three days of Boot Camp – it certainly looks like a great environment in which to learn from some of the best players in the world – how else can you whet our appetites?
- They should expect heavy emphasis on bet sizing(specifically on dry textures), frequencies(learning how to use logic and info to accurately predict value bet/bluffing frequencies.) and of course the giant elephant in the room; math. By the end they will feel confident bout playing more hands and have a better understanding for the question "why?" What's even better is that they will have plenty of time to intake this information. I've coached a variety of players including a French Backgammon pro, multiple online winners, and a friend who had very little plo experience 12 months ago and is now crushing big plo games in Los Angeles.
Lastly, I guarantee to be prepared to improve our guests as much as I possibly can.