2017 Annual Poker Goals

Before we get to this year’s goals, as always, we first need to take look back at 2016 and see how we fared. When I envision most of these goals, after they are written in this blog I don’t really look to see how I’m progressing. The main reason for that is that I don’t want to be, nor am I, attached to the results. The intention for this public blog is to share with you some things I would like to see happen for me in poker by the end of the year. Some of the goals are a real stretch, while others on the list seem very reasonable. Its a mixed bag, but none of my goals are so outlandish that they let me off the hook. For example, I don’t post a goal to win 10 WSOP bracelets in 2017. Is that theoretically possible? Sure. Is it fantasy land? Absolutely. So instead, I set the lofty goal at 3 bracelets. A feat that has been achieved several times by other players and I want to add my name to that list. OK, so lets break down what worked, and what didn’t work in 2016:


1. Cash for $2.5 million- This was a big whiff! I ended up cashing for just $302, 452 which amounts to my lowest total since the year 2000.  Even in 1999 when I was playing mostly $100-$300 buy ins I cashed for more than that! So what didn’t work? A combination of two things:

a) lack of volume. I didn’t play enough high buy in events. The Aria has tons of $25k+ events with 20-30 players, but when I’m home in Las Vegas the last thing I typically want to do is go to the strip and play poker. These events appear to be a regular thing so if I want to have more results in higher buy in tournaments I would have to start playing these. I’ve only played one time in a $100k event there and I actually enjoyed the event and the atmosphere.

b) cashed in the wrong tournaments! The way the tournament poker landscape looks these days, if you don’t have a good year in super high roller events, that’s going to define your year. My biggest cash on the year was just $96,670 which is less than a single super high roller buy in!

2. 55 Tournament minimum- didn’t get there! This would seem like one of the easier goals to hit since I put in a lot of volume during the summer at the WSOP but I ended up playing just 49 events total. Had there been a WSOP Europe I likely would have hit the goal.

3. 12 cashes- I cashed in 10 of 49 events which is a decent percentage, and had I put in a bit more volume and hit my 55 tournament minimum, I likely would have hit this goal. Same story, not enough volume.

4. 5 final tables- I really bombed on this one hitting just one. I had a lot of close opportunities that just didn’t pan out, but I think this has to be a record low for me since I started playing tournament poker and I chalk this one up to an anomaly.

5. 3 WSOP Bracelets- Ha! Had a shot in the $1500 Razz coming in 4th place and really felt like I played well in that tournament. Such is Razz. I once saw a poker player that had a tattoo that went Ace, 2, 3, 4 and then a picture of three consecutive bananas! (High cards in Razz are often referred to as bananas)

6. Move to 3rd on WSOP All-Time Cashes List- Alright we got one! I sit in 3rd place with 92 behind Phil Hellmuth’s 118 and Erik Seidel’s 101. Each year I make up ground in this category and before I’m dead and buried I’m very confident I will take over the #1 spot all time. I love playing the WSOP and I don’t see that ever changing.

7. Move to 2nd on WSOP All-Time Money List- This one was doable with a good year, but I remain in 3rd and made up zero ground on Antonio Esfandiari and Dan Colman.

8. End 2016 in the top 10 of the GPI- In order to end the year in the top 10 you need to make some final tables. I did not! Ended the year in 71st place I believe.

9. Play 200 hours of cash games- I really thought I was going to make the time to play the big mixed game in Bobby’s Room but I ended up well short playing just 106 hours total. There were plenty of games and opportunities, but ultimately when given the choice to go to the gym and play soccer three times a week, I chose the physical exercise. It just never became a priority for me.

10. Win $250,000 in Cash Games- Within the first 45 minutes of my very first session of 2016 I was up $350,000 in the Big Bet Mixed Game at Aria. I followed that up with two more small wins, but over at Bobby’s Room that all took a nose dive by the end of the year! Year total was -$236,000 in just 106 hours of play. While that’s a lot of actual money, its essentially just one good winning session away from being even.


So whats in store for 2017? An acknowledgment of my shifted priorities and setting myself up to win by focusing on QUALITY over QUANTITY. I won’t be posting a minimum tournaments goal, but in the events I do choose to play I plan to play my best and be hyper focused. I have been doing this for 20 years and I know when I’m playing well and running bad, versus playing bad and running bad. I felt like I played pretty well in 2016. The WSOP is such a grueling mental grind that its tough to bring your A Game every day for 12 hours a day, for 6 weeks. It’s grueling, but I love it and always feel like there is room for improvement in terms of my mental preparation.  So without further adieu, here are my 2017 poker goals:


1. Cash for $2.5 million- If you want to have a winning year in super high rollers, this is a target you need to achieve. You could easily spend more than that in buy ins if you play every $25k buy in event and up.

2. Win 3 WSOP Bracelets- stop laughing! I want it.

3. Cross the 100 cashes mark at the WSOP- I would need 8 cashes which is reasonable with a full schedule. If I played no limit hold’em tournaments rather than the mixed game events, it would be a virtual lock, but I intend to do it playing the high buy in events.

4. End the year #1 on the All-Time Money List- With me having an off year and Erik Seidel putting in a full schedule including the high buy in events in Australia and the regular events at Aria he has closed the gap to about $1.5 million after another big year. He followed up a $5 million year in 2015 with yet another $5 million year in 2016. Erik will have a chance to pass me in Australia as I won’t be attending again this year.

5. Win WSOP Player of the Year for the 3rd Time- I’m currently the only person who has won the award twice, once in 2004 and then again in 2013, and I’d really like to get to 3 before anyone hits 2! I know I can do it, and my playing schedule is tailored with this specific goal in mind: Avoid the big field small buy in no limit hold’em events, focus on the $10k+ schedule.

6. Make the November 9- I know, it sounds crazy, but not to me. Crazy is more along the lines of setting the goal at winning the entire thing, which I intend to every year, but this event was tailor made for me. Two hour levels, a field comprised of varying skill levels, and reasonable playing schedule. My style of play was tailor made for this event. The “small ball” approach is perfectly suited to the main event. It allows you to avoid as many landmines as you can until the very end. I can get there. I don’t believe in my heart that anyone is better suited to succeed in this specific event than I am.

7. Win $250,000 playing cash games- I won’t be setting a number of hours I want to log as I don’t know that this is a priority for me any time soon. I just have a wide array of interests that occupy my time. Obviously in 2016 there was the heated presidential race that I was extremely passionate about and enthralled with to the bitter end, and while I’m still just as passionate about the direction of the country, I’m spending my time more wisely. I’m still a dedicated listener to many of the great political podcasts you can find on NPR, Keepin’ it 1600, 538, and Slate, but I won’t be engaging on social media with people nearly as often as I did in 2016. It took up a lot of my time and it was a cause I believed in, and still do.

8. Produce more content for poker fans- I’ve always enjoyed social media and its a really fun way to engage with people who love this game. Many of you may remember my “Weekly Rant” YouTube show and while I have no plans to revive that show, I definitely want to continue producing the Full Contact Poker podcast. I really enjoy this medium and listen to a ton of podcasts. I have no set goals on how I want the podcast to look and I plan to keep it flexible. Sometimes a guest, other times poker world updates, and may other times it will just be about any poker issues I find worthwhile to discuss. I will remain active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, but have no plans to understand the whole SnapChat thing! I also plan to continue doing occasional hand breakdowns during study sessions and a few off the cuff vlogs. I don’t put a lot of effort into the quality of those videos from a production standpoint, but I figure its easy, the content is good, and most of you just want to learn how to play better anyway, so doing them off the cuff just means more content for you all. One interview I can promise you I will have in 2017 will be one with Phil Ivey that you could never find anywhere else.

Normally I post 10 specific poker goals I want to achieve throughout the year, but because I’m adjusting to being more flexible with the amount of time I play and not feeling forced to play when I don’t want to, we are down to 8 this year. 8 streamlined, clear, powerful and juicy goals. An 8-8 year would be epic!

If you have any ideas for content you want to see in 2017, or if you have some suggestions for poker goals I could set in the future, email the Podcast at DNegsPodcast@gmail.com. I plan to get some content while out here in Bahamas, but that will take a backseat to the grind at hand. It is my intention to start the year off with a BANG and knock off the first event of the year, the PokerStars Championship Super High Roller.