More than $1 million and counting this year, but Steven isn’t playing poker for the money

WICHITA — The money Brandon Steven has won playing poker so far this year is somewhat surprising, but how he feels about it is even more difficult to believe.

The businessman has won more than $1 million in about a dozen tournaments, but Steven says he’s not playing for the money.

“I have the most respect for money, but I’m not playing for money,” he says. “I’m playing for different reasons than everyone else.”

The car dealer – just one of his lines of work – says he almost went broke in the business at age 22.

“I opened up some stuff, and it didn’t work,” he says. “I just kept plugging away. … Got back on my feet.”

Steven says he’s extremely competitive and always looking for the next challenge, which is what poker has been for him.

Though he’s placed high in a couple of tournaments recently and placed 10th out of more than 7,000 people in the main event at the World Series of Poker in 2010, Steven says he won’t be satisfied until he’s won a major tournament.

“I just want to finish one out.”

Steven says he’d never consider playing poker for a living.

“Poker’s not a career,” he says. “I don’t like so many things about poker.”

Steven wants to make one thing clear: “I’m not crying by any means.”

He says he has a great staff that makes poker possible, but he laments the travel, the lack of sleep, the toll on his body and the “crazy” upset to his family life among other things.

“Poker’s a tough business,” Steven says. “There’s not a lot of successful players.”

But all that money for one day’s work?

“It wasn’t a day. It was years worth of work.”

Steven now is preparing for the main event again, which starts Saturday.

So what happens if he wins that or another big tournament? What will he conquer next?

“Sleep.”