Ryan Riess may not win the 2018 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event. The East Lansing, Michigan poker pro may not match the legendary Phil Hellmuth‘s tremendous feat of winning both the WSOP and WSOP Europe Main Event.
However, heading into the Day 5 of this year’s WSOP Europe Main Event at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic fourth in chips of the 12 players remaining, he’s certainly proven he’s more than capable of it and belongs in just about any conversation about the best poker players on the planet.
In April 2017, I wrote in this space that Riess’ braggadocio after winning the 2013 WSOP Main Event was suddenly proving prophetic.
The best poker player in the world?
After hoisting the bracelet and posing for photos in front of his $8.3 million in winnings, Riess made a rather bold statement. He said he felt like he was the best poker player in the world.
Then, in the following year, the former K-Mart cashier turned WSOP Circuit grinder cashed for just $57,900 in tournaments.
The next two years, Riess put together more impressive numbers, cashing for $259,587 and $269,413 respectively. However, the best tournament poker players in the world count cashes in millions of dollars, not thousands.
He was in serious danger of being considered just a footnote in poker history, until 2017.
He made a deep run in the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event to start the year. Then, he won the $10,000 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Finale for $716,088, booking a career-best score outside of his WSOP Main Event win.
Making the top 50
Suddenly, he was in the top 50 on poker’s all-time leading money winner’s list and proving to be much more than a one-hit wonder.
Riess finished up 2017 with $1,810,957 in tournament winnings. However, he’s done even better than that so far this year, booking $1,816,480 in cashes headed into the 2018 WSOP Europe Main Event.
Riess didn’t win his second bracelet at the 2018 WSOP in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, he did book an outstanding 14 cashes at the series, including deep runs in the $50,000 High Roller and $365 Online Event. A month later he booked another win in a $10,000 buy-in event at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Florida.
Then, he rolled into WSOP Europe on a hot streak. He made the final table of the £5,000 partypoker MILLIONS at Dusk Till Dawn in the UK. Plus, the final table of a €50,000 High Roller at the PokerStars European Poker Tour stop in Barcelona, Spain.
Riess also booked another two cashes at WSOPE events in Rozvadov. Then, he won the €10,000 Turbo Highroller for the equivalent of $203,471 in US dollars. Now, he’s on the verge of matching a feat only one player in history has managed to do. And that man is nothing less than a legend in this game.
Riess proving prophetic
These are the kind of things the best poker players in the world manage to accomplish. If nothing more, Riess is at least proving he’s capable of them now.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. In reality, Riess is a pretty humble young man. He’s a nice guy, not a boastful jerk who regularly overestimates his skill level. When he won poker’s World Championship at 23, he must have got caught up in the moment. Much like anyone would, he must have said some things he didn’t really mean.
However, if things keep going at this pace, those ill-advised statements about being the best may prove prophetic.