I honestly think one of the reasons I did as well as I did in 2004 was that I didn’t play in any tournaments I didn’t feel like playing. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I was going to stay in Vegas more and play in the big cash games. As for tournaments, I’d play “only” in the World Series of Poker events and other big buy-in events.
As it turned out, though, that’s not how things went. It seemed like every week in 2004, there was a $10,000 buy-in event! I’d get home from a tournament and wind down for a few days, then I was right back out on the road for another event.
When the year began, I’d written off winning the Card Player Player of the Year award entirely. I knew that I wasn’t going to play a full slate of events, so I didn’t figure that I had much of a chance.
I started the year off right, though, coming in third in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and following that up with a second-place finish in the PartyPoker Million. I was ecstatic about my start, but still never wavered on my plans for the year — to play only in the big events.
Well, the WSOP is a big event, and I played as many events in it as I could. In other words, I played every one, unless I was at the final table of the previous day’s event. Once the WSOP was over, I had a pretty nice lead in the race. Still, I thought I was a huge underdog to win.
There were events going on in L.A. and at Bellagio, and I was either at home or visiting Grand …