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Goals for the 2010 World Series of Poker

Five for me to achieve

by Todd Brunson |  Published: May 28, 2010

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I don’t need to tell you that this has been a tough economic year on most Americans. I’m sure that you have felt it; I know that I have. It’s been hard watching the housing market, commercial real estate market, and stock market all tank. With very little poker going on, it’s been tough covering margin and capital calls. I like to have at least some control over my destiny.

I guess that’s why, for the first time that I can remember, I’m really looking forward to the World Series of Poker. With 14-hour days, every day for almost six weeks, and more bad beats than a Scandinavian home game, I know that it’s gonna be grueling. But, it’s also a chance to have some control, so bring it on.

Winning money isn’t the only thing I hope to accomplish; this is the WSOP, after all. Legends are made here, and with every passing year, all poker pros move either forward or backward in the eyes of the poker world. Win three tournaments or a major like the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event (or whatever the hell they’re calling it this year), and you’re in the books. Heck, just make the final table of the main event and you’ll be the talk around every watercooler in America.

That’s why I decided to set five goals for myself at this year’s WSOP. I could have made unrealistic goals that would have been nearly impossible to achieve, but I decided to keep them well within my capabilities. In fact, I have achieved or even exceeded all five of these goals before, but just not in one year. So, here they are, in no particular order:

World Series of Poker1. Cash in four events or more. I always look at who cashed the most, as I think there’s more skill involved there. Many players have gotten lucky and won a bracelet, and then were never heard from again. If you look at the list of players with the most cashes, however, you will be looking at the names of the real great players.

My highest number of cashes in a year is six, back in 2006. There are more events now, but it will actually be more difficult. Events run longer now, so you can’t play as many when you go deep. Last year, I got to at least day two in every event that I played except one (I believe that I played a total of nine). That burns up a lot of events that I never got to enter, and I cashed only twice.

2. Make two final tables or more. In 2005, I made three final tables out of four cashes. That’s tough to do, and it was a good year for me. I think I could actually make four this year with some luck, but as I said, I’m trying not to set the bar too high. I will be more than happy with just two. (Actually, I would be happy only if I won every event that I played, but again, that bar …)

3. Win at least one bracelet. This is obviously a big one, but it can’t stand alone. Even if I won a bracelet in a small event and did nothing else, I still couldn’t consider the WSOP a success. With buy-ins adding up to around $150,000 for me (including the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event), a small tournament might barely cover my buy-ins. This brings me to my next goal.

4. Make money in the Series. This is much harder to do than it sounds. As I said, the buy-ins run me around $150,000 for the Series. Some players spend double that amount by playing almost every event! If you don’t win one or run deep in several, it’s almost impossible to win money. I think I lost $20,000 in last year’s Series. I almost skipped the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, in which case I would have made $30,000. It was pretty close.

5. Make a deep run in the main event. Notice that I didn’t say win or even make the final table of the main event. Just going deep — say, down to the final 80 players — can be worth as much as $100,000, not to mention the great ESPN coverage that a player gets. There are many household names in poker who have done little more than make a deep run in the “big one.”

My biggest coverage from a deep run (if you can even call it that) came in 2007, when I finished in a whopping 459th place, earning close to $30,000. But in 1992, I actually finished 13th in the main event. With 20 players left, I even overtook Johnny Chan as the chip leader! So close. Well, maybe I can do it again this year.

I was trying to decide on some sort of punishment for myself if I didn’t achieve at least one of these goals: shave my head, spend a month in Boise alone, no alcohol for a year … But, I finally determined two things: First, I don’t need any incentive; I’m going to play as hard as I possibly can. And second, I think I’ve suffered enough this year.

Set your own goals, and see how you do — even if it’s just to play a satellite for the big one on DoylesRoom. Good luck to us all. Spade Suit

Todd Brunson has been a professional poker player for more than 20 years. While primarily a cash-game player, he still has managed to win 18 major tournaments, for more than $3.5 million. He has won one bracelet and cashed 25 times at the World Series of Poker. You can play with Todd online at DoylesRoom.com or live at his tournament, The Todd Brunson Montana Poker Challenge, in Bigfork, Montana. Check his website, ToddBrunson.com, for details.