I just got back from a few consecutive trips, one of them being BJA Bootcamp, and finally am able to share my experiences with the community.
Hopefully this discussion will help you decide whether or not you should go to a future bootcamp.
I think the best way to help you decide would be to catalog my experiences of the bootcamp, and give you my opinion on who should go, or not go, to the bootcamp.
Before going to the bootcamp, I had been training regularly at home for 8 months. I had basic strategy memorized, the deviation chart memorized, running / true count estimation, and probably 400+ hours of practice. Most of the help I intended to get was clarity on a number of confusions, and a more rounded understanding of the life of an AP.
The bootcamp is structured a lot like a seminar, in that most of the time is structured. It’s not a free-for-all Q&A (although there is plenty of time to ask questions), and you shouldn’t expect to go to casinos the day after the bootcamp (or the night after) and burn them down.
The bootcamp is more of a consultation. It gives you a more clear understanding of what it takes to be an AP, beyond just knowing the charts. You also will be personally evaluated, and given suggestions on how to improve your game. Personally, I learned that I should practice more true count conversions on half decks. Something I haven’t given too much energy to, other than just eyeballing the discard tray.
Is the bootcamp for everyone? Well, I think that depends. I would say that anyone, of any level of skill, could go to a bootcamp and learn from the bootcamp. However, I believe it is most valuable for those who have already been working their asses off for some time.
One of the surprising things about the bootcamp, was the skill level of the attendees. I anticipated being one of the least prepared, and I also expected people to be competitive and cocky with their skill levels, like the “card counters” (aka cocky ploppies) I’ve met before.
Neither of these things were true. I was surprised to learn that I was in fairly good shape, and most of the attendees were surprisingly, albeit rightfully, humble. So if you’re questioning if you’re good enough to go the bootcamp, yes, you are.
Let me speak to me being “prepared”. Although there were only a handful of attendees who I would consider “close”, none of us were tested out perfectly. And I think that was a valuable thing to experience. I was so glad to have someone be able to poke holes in my game. That’s something you can’t get at home or by watching the video course, or any other way. There’s always the question of if you’re there yet, and it’s good to be able to have someone who is there tell you “no, you’re not, and here’s why”.
I think that’s where the bootcamp has the most value. Someone being able to poke holes in your game. It’s rare to find another card counter, and even rarer to find an actual AP. To be in a room full of aspiring AP’s and true AP’s, all who can help you with your game, it was an insanely valuable experience, to me.
Also, to feel like you are part of a community, all fighting for the same goal…
In a weird way, the bootcamp is like an AA meeting for aspiring AP’s.
Learning to count, and implementing that skill, can be super lonely. Even when you have the “support” of your friends and family, they usually don’t want to help you train, or hear about EV, ROR, Deviations, CVCX, because they don’t get it. No one cares about blackjack. The fact that we do is kinda weird, if we’re being honest.
But, nonetheless, to know that there are others out there who get it, and who you can reach out to when you’re not sure if you should play a table, or when you’ve lost half your bankroll and them to assure you that it’s just std dev, I think will prove to be invaluable.
If you have the money to go to a bootcamp, go.
If you want to have all of your questions answered, go.
If you want an AP to coach you to be a better player, go.
If you don’t know if you’re ready or not, go.
If you want to meet other card counters, go.
If you want amazing street tacos, go.
If you have work to do on your game, and you know it, I’d say wait, don’t go… yet.
For the love of god, GO… eventually, but from what I experienced, if you want to get bang for your buck (as a good little card counter should), take your training as far as you can before you sign up, and prepare to take your skills to the next level.
Hope this helps!