On amateur vs pro gear

It was supposed to be a wedding gallery part 2 today, but first I had a busy weekend, mostly photographing between wine tasting, and secondly, I was listening to some podcasts in the morning, and these thought came as the response to what I am hearing and reading all over again, and have slowly enough of it.
You know how they say that the gear doesn’t matter, that it is not the camera that makes a picture? Yeah, right. Well, of course you can have the greatest camera the money can buy, and still won’t be able to shoot decent picture (either without vision or plainly not sharp, depending what your “strength” is), but having a better stuff helps. Just few examples from my life. I am using two Nikon bodies, D40x and D300. The way the Auto White Balance on both cameras render the same scene is like heaven and earth. As much as I realize some people think you shouldn’t shoot auto balance, there is as many who says you can, and as I am shooting RAW, it doesn’t matter that much anyway. Although, since I started using D300, I hardly have to correct it anymore.
Further, my D300 has several features, one of mostly used by me is bracketing, which helps shooting HDRs (hand-holding, but I don’t want to get into this discussion).
Now, lenses. I am mostly using my 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6. How much of blurred background I can get with f/5.6? Close to none, but I will not buy faster zoom lens any time soon. I can use 35 mm f/1.4 lens to blur background, it is faster, but with its 50 mm (cropped sensor) I cannot take any picture I want, even if I move closer or futher, it sometimes just won’t cut it. And I am leaving alone how difficult it is to shoot wildlife with 200 mm lens. So, you can take decent photos with amateur gear, even with point-and-shoot or even iPhone, but it will not enable you to make large prints or, what is more important, get all the pictures you may really want to take!
So, I think as much as having vision helps, right tools make it less frustrating to achieve it!