Back in July, 23-year-old Ryan Riess claimed he would win the final table, and his prognostication came true!
Riess won the World Series of Poker’s Main Event last Tuesday, outlasting a field of 6,352 players who each ponied up $10,000 for the chance to win poker’s most prestigious tournament held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The event created a nearly $60 million total prize pool with Riess taking home the first place prize of close to $8.4 million plus the richest prize in all of sports, the $500,000 WSOP gold bracelet. Riess, from East Lansing, Michigan, becomes the sixth consecutive player under age 25 to capture poker’s top crown. He also becomes the sixth consecutive poker professional to win the title.
This is the third time a player from Michigan has won the event, the most recent being Joe Cada of Shelby Township in 2009. Poker Hall of Famer and Grand Rapid’s Tom McEvoy was first to accomplish the feat in 1983.
Riess graduated with a business degree from Michigan State last December and burst onto the poker scene just one year ago in October, 2012 when he finished runner up in a WSOP Circuit event at Horseshoe Hammond in Indiana, winning $239,063 after being coaxed to participate by a friend. It was Riess’ first-ever live poker tournament and initial appearance in the Main Event!
“This is a dream come true,” said Riess after his impressive victory. “Ever since I saw Chris Moneymaker win this event in 2003 I knew it was something I wanted to experience, too. I’m surprised it came so quickly.”
The Main Event began in July. As has been the custom in the past six years, play was suspended when the tournament reached its final table comprised of nine players. Play resumed last week and after more than eight hours of competition the field of nine remaining players was narrowed to two: Jay Farber, 29, of Las Vegas, an amateur poker player/VIP nightclub host, and Riess.
Heads-up play lasted more than three hours before the champ was crowned. Farber was eliminated in second place, winning $5,174,357.
Rounding out the final table were:
3rd place: Amir Lehavot, 38, of Weston, Fla., $3,727,823; 4th place: Sylvain Loosli, 26, of Toulon, France, $2,792,533; 5th place: JC Tran, 36, of Sacramento, Calif., $2,106,893; 6th place: Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, 25, of Brossard, Quebec, Canada, $1,601,024; 7th place: Michiel Brummelhuis, 32, Amsterdam, Netherlands, $1,225,356; 8th place: David Benefield, 27, of New York City, NY, $944,650; 9th place: Mark Newhouse, 28, of Los Angeles, Calif., $733,224.
A total of 648 players cashed. Players from 83 different nations and ages ranging from 21 years old to 92 years old competed, including dozens of celebrities from the sports and entertainment worlds.
Riess now has $8,658,488 in career WSOP earnings, which moves him into tenth place on the all-time money list.
The 2013 WSOP attracted a record 79,471 participants in a total of 62 events, generating a prize pool of more than $197 million. Participants hailed from 107 countries in 2013.
Good luck, and may the “nuts” be with you! There’s always next year!
H. Scot Krause is a gaming industry analyst, researcher and journalist. He is a former entertainment director and 18-year resident of Las Vegas. Questions or comments for Scot may be addressed to: [email protected].