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Poker Tournament Trail -- Cornel Cimpan

Cimpan Talks About His Strong 2009

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Cornel CimpanCornel Cimpan (pictured right) scored his biggest win of the year at the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino in February. He was awarded $1,686,760 in prize money and the 2,400 POY points that built him a solid foundation in the Card Player Player of the Year race.

Cimpan became a serious contender in November, when he won his second WPT title at the World Poker Finals and added another 2,100 points to his total. He finishes 2009 as runner-up with 5,934 points.

Card Player caught up with Cimpan in Las Vegas, and he discussed the very strong year of results he posted in 2009.

Ryan Lucchesi: How exciting has it been for you to be involved in the POY race for most of the year?

Cornel Cimpan: It’s definitely been exciting. It adds an extra incentive to the whole deal, especially knowing how tough it is to be in the race and stay in the race.

RL: This has been your breakout year with the two WPT titles that you won, and a number of other tournament victories in smaller events. What has it meant to you not only to have won tournament titles but also to have done it consistently?

CC: There are so many great players who don’t have the bankroll to be able to play in more tournaments and showcase their talents, and therefore you’re not going to see or hear their names. Obviously I had the opportunity to play in a lot more tournaments than most people, even though I didn’t play that many, but I still played enough that I could showcase what I’m capable of when given the opportunity. It’s been pretty exciting.
I was planning on taking December off, but after I won Foxwoods, things changed and I went to Prague and then came to Bellagio for a couple of the preliminaries in addition to the WPT event. Otherwise, I would have taken December off.

RL: What is your plan for next year now that you have the financial freedom to play in as many events as you like?

CC: It’s tough, because I have a wife and two kids who I love very much, and they want me at home as much as possible. But this is what I do, and this is what I’m gifted at doing right now. I’m definitely going to play; I don’t know to what extent. It will all depend.

Management is the key, because in tournaments you can run dry for a long time and put yourself in a position where you make bad financial decisions. It’s all going to depend on how I do tournament-wise and cash-games-wise, and I will go from there. I would love to be in the race again next year, no doubt.

RL: What is the guiding principle of your tournament strategy?

CC: I love to play deep-stack poker, because I’m willing to play poker when the buy-in is big, and that lets me take advantage of every opportunity to increase my stack. That’s very important in deep-stack poker; you need to have enough chips to remain confident. Today, I have had aces three times, and I have lost three times, but I’m still almost at a starting stack in chips.

RL: What are your feelings with regard to your tournament performance in 2009?

CC: It’s been a fabulous year. Who likes a second? Nobody. Does second place mean nothing? No, it means more than that. Eric [Baldwin] has done a phenomenal job accumulating so many points. If it wasn’t for a person like him who was willing to sacrifice so much throughout the year, I probably would have run away with it, but you know, that’s how it goes.