Earlier this week, Daniel Negreanu posted, as he always does, his poker goals for upcoming year. In the blog post, he made mention to what was his lowest total earnings mark since 2000. According to ‘Kid Poker,’ there were a few reasons for that down year, but Negreanu simplified it to one point, “The way the poker tournament landscape looks these days, you have to have a good year in High Roller events. That’s going to define your year.”

Enter, stage right, Tom Marchese.

For a player that has turned out six-figure results like clockwork since the beginning of the decade, it’s hard to peg one single year as a banner year. There was no doubt though that 2016 was that year for the Las Vegas transplant, as he amassed nearly $4,000,000 in earnings, with a majority of those scores coming in ARIA High Roller events.

Marchese was, by the numbers, the second most successful ARIA High Roller of 2016. His 13 cashes fell two short of Cary Katz, who led the year with 15, and his four wins matched Katz’s leading figure. Together, the two conceptualized and developed the ARIA High Roller events into what they are and this past year, it all clicked.

“My year went about as well it could have considering I barely traveled. I just stuck around Vegas and played the ARIA tournaments.” Marchese said, adding, “It’s a big advantage for me just being in Vegas.”

Having the ARIA in his backyard gives Marchese a logistical advantage, but he knows that those events are some of the toughest fields in the world. The only way to be successful, is to prepare.

“So much of my action over the course of the year is in these tournaments, so it’s a ton of my focus for improvement. Finding areas where I’m not playing my best is key, and since a lot of my expectation is in these events, I put a ton of effort into playing my best in them.”

ARIA wasn’t only where Marchese was at his best, though, as his career best year almost got even better this summer. Marchese finished 14th in this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event, amazingly his first time cashing in the event, falling just a few spots short of the final table.

“The Main really is a league of its own. The thing with these High Rollers is that they play out so quickly, you don’t really have enough time to take a step back and think about it,” Marchese said when asked about that July run.

There is plenty of time to think during the Main Event, but Marchese is keeping his thinking High Roller-centric heading into the new year.

“High Rollers are my main focus, if not my only focus.” he said. 

Marchese is not thinking about his past successes, only how he can have an even better year in 2017. That will be hard to do after a career-best campaign, but with that kind of focus, no one would doubt it.