2018 Annual Poker Goals Blog

For years now I have been posting an annual poker goals blog and 2018 will be no different. Each year I set between 8-10 poker specific goals and then look back at how it all unfolded. The goals I set are lofty, so I’m really not attached to the results in terms of seeing the year as a success or failure, but I’m a big believer in setting hard to reach goals. Not so hard to reach that you are living in fantasy land, but not so attainable that you rate to achieve the goal quite easily.
So before we look at the goals for 2018, let’s take a look at the goals we set for 2017 and see how I fared:

1. Cash for $2.5 million-
I set this same goal in 2016 and whiffed pretty badly, but had a bounce back year in 2017 and was able to cash for $2,700,646. With so many huge buy ins across the world today, if you play a steady schedule of high rollers and don’t cash for at least $2 million, that’s going to be a losing year. Guaranteed. As long as the trend in poker continues to higher and higher buy ins, I’ll need to elevate this total for 2018.

2. Win 3 WSOP Bracelets-
Well, we didn’t quite hit the mark on this one despite so many chances!
3rd in $10k No Limit Hold’em Tag Team
2nd in $10k Omaha H/L
6th in $10k HORSE
5th in $50k Players Championship

I was deep A LOT with a total of 8 top 20 finishes. The Players Championship loss stung as did the second place finish to Abe Mosseri when I was so close to finishing him off I could taste it. The last few years my luck has really seemed to even out in comparison to my initial start in poker where I had 8 wins to start my career with no 2nd place finish. The last few years the elusive win has been hard to come by.I’ve posted roughly 9 straight top 3 finishes without a win.

3. Cross the 100 cashes mark at the WSOP-
We got this one done also. With fields paying 15% these days cashing for 10+ times during a WSOP is hardly all that impressive anymore. Imagine an average player who plays a full grind for 40 events. If he runs average, the average player should cash six times. If you are a pro player who plays the large field no limit hold’em events, it’s not a stretch to say you should be able to average about 10-12 cashes a year. In some of these events its as easy as doing a max late reg, then hanging in there for maybe 2-3 hours to lock up a cash! Currently I sit second with 103 cashes, 2 ahead of Erik Seidel and 24 behind Phil Hellmuth. While both guys had a 10 year head start, there are more events today with more places paid so racking up cashes is much easier than it was in the old days.

4. End the year #1 on the All-Time Money List-
Erik Seidel came into the year posting back to back $5 million years. If he did that again in 2017 I’d currently be in second. Erik posted a respectable $2.2 million in 2017 which actually helped widen my lead by a half million.
Daniel Negreanu $35,319,815
Erik Seidel $33,277,777
2018 is going to see a massive challenge to this spot with the $1 million One Drop coming back. You will see loads of players spend $4 million+ in buyins throughout 2018. If I were to not cash in One Drop, it’s close to even money to assume there will be a new All-Time Money leader.

5. Win WSOP Player of the Year for the 3rd Time- This attempt was a bit frustrating after having an opening week where I posted a 2nd and a 3rd in $10k events and wasn’t even on the leaderboard. The Tag Team 3rd place ended up landing me less points than a Colossus min cash. An event I didn’t play but has as close to a guaranteed cash as you will find with all the opportunities to re-enter. I continued to post consistent results throughout, but the points system in place really didn’t reward those runs and I kept losing ground to people min cashing the large field NLH events. I gave up about 2/3 of the way in and chose not to attend the WSOP Europe to contend for the title. Needless to say I was a little bitter about the points system and felt it was kind of silly and disappointing. I do think next year’s POY system will be much improved from what I’m hearing.

6. Make the November 9- This one didn’t happen either as I had a really goofy WSOP run. I was on a short stack, 10-20bbs for quite a while and grinding hard looking for spots to survive and chip up. Then I just had the goofiest hands come up where a couple opponents, for shits and giggles played some really odd hands against me that I never could have expected in a million years!
Having said that, I pressed too much in the early stages and need to scale it back in 2018 for this event if I’m going to make another deep run.

7. Win $250,000 playing cash games- OK, so unfortunately I lost some of my records from the early part of the year and overall didn’t play much at all, but I’m pretty confident that I did accomplish this goal in 2017 by a nose. I played cash on Poker After Dark one session and think I won $140,000 and had a few other 6 figure winning sessions that likely had me hit this number.

8. Produce more content for poker fans-
Safe to say that we accomplished this goal despite tailing off drastically by the end of the year. I produced a daily WSOP VLOG for the duration, Podcasts, and various YouTube videos ranging from Poker Tips, to Hand Breakdowns, to Poker related issues. I didn’t actually write many blogs but think I’ll go back to that in 2018. In a lot of ways I much prefer writing.

So all told that’s 5 out of 8! I’d say overall that is a good result and above expectation. Let’s take a look at the goals I have in store for 2018:

1. Top $40 million in Live Earnings- That’s going to require a $4,680,186 year from me which would just slightly be my second highest overall total ever. In 2004, before any $25k or above events existed, I cashed for a whopping $4,465,907 playing $10k buy in events. Those days are over, but it’s far easier today to post $4 million in cashes than ever before. It’s not easier because the game is easier, quite the contrary, but you are just going to see more and more high roller grinders shoot up the all-time leader board. Even players who are breaking even over the last few years will still show anywhere from $6-$8 million in earnings.

2. Win a WSOP Bracelet- OK so it’s been a few years since I won a WSOP bracelet. In fact, it’s been a few years since I actually WON a live tournament! So I’m modifying the previously lofty goal of winning 3 WSOP bracelets to winning just one. Not as easy as it looks!

3. Get to 115 WSOP cashes and/or close gap on PH- This shouldn’t be that difficult if I play a full WSOP schedule including maybe adding a few large field events I don’t typically play. It would either require 12 cashes, or just one more than Hellmuth gets.

4. Profit $2 million- So I’ve already established that I want to cash for close to $5 million this year, but that doesn’t guarantee a $2 million profit on the year. I expect to spend over $3 million in buy ins throughout 2018 so its going to take at least $5 million in cashes to make this a reality.

5. Finish Year Top 30 in GPI- For the GPI POY I ended the year in 40th place, but my actual GPI ranking ends the year at 73rd. Its tough to compete with guys who play a lot more volume than I do, especially in the smaller field high buy in events that rack up a ton of points, but I think top 30 is doable with the schedule I plan to play which should range between 65-75 events.

6. Final Table SHRB or One Drop- I’ve played some of my best poker in the Super High Roller Bowl but have yet to cash due to some bad luck each year when the cards are on their backs. I plan to be lucky in 2018 and make it to the final table of at least one of the two biggest buy in events of the year.

7. Win Poker Masters or US Poker Open- I’m a sucker for any best all around player award and there will be a new one to shoot for this year in the US Poker Open which incorporates PLO and a mixed game event. My only concern here is that I tore my ACL about a month ago and it requires surgery. My plan was to have the surgery when I return from Bahamas in January, but I’m not so sure I will be physically able to play the US Poker Open less than two weeks after surgery. I may choose to postpone my surgery till Feb 15th so that I can play the full slate of events, but I’m still stressing over the decision and haven’t committed yet.

8. Hang on the the #1 spot on the All-Time Money List-
I have held this spot many times throughout my career, even before high rollers were a thing. This run has been about four years long in the top spot, and I hope to hold it for at least one more year. It will be tough as you can all but guarantee at least one player is going to cross the $35 million mark this year.

9. Win a Super High Roller- I’ve had so many seconds an thirds the last few years it’s become quite frustrating to not close the deal. To finish off the year I had a chance to do so against Dan Smith heads up in the $100k at Bellagio. We got it all in on the flop where I was an 84% favorite to have him crippled and give me a chance to knock off my first ever $100k, but the river helped him and I bit the dust.

10. 120 hours of Poker Study- For all these other things to happen this part is essential. I expect to ebb and flow how much study time I have, but averaging 10 hours a month shouldn’t be too difficult and be really worthwhile. My study plan includes working with my coaches as well as watching a lot of game film on my opponents. For my entire career I’ve always felt like it was imperative to study what my younger opponents are doing. Without having a deep understanding as to why they make certain plays, it becomes more and more difficult to succeed in beating them. The challenge has never been tougher with a solid group of young Germans studying together as well as plenty of other great young players from across the globe, but that is what makes this game fun for me! If it was too easy, I genuinely wouldn’t enjoy it.