When Ryan Riess won the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event and the $8.3 million prize it came with at the ripe old age of 23, he said he felt like he was the best poker player in the world.
That may have been overstating things just a bit. In fact, the poker player from East Lansing, Mich., spent 2014 proving anything but that. The former K-Mart cashier turned WSOP Circuit grinder cashed for just $57,900 in live tournaments in 2014, against a heck of a lot more in buy ins.
His 2012 debut saw him put together $239,063 in tournament earnings. A year later he became world champion. Two years later, 2014 was a major disappointment and clearly his worst year as a pro.
But Riess didn’t pack his bags and go back home to Michigan. He didn’t give up. He wasn’t satisfied being remembered as a one-hit wonder or footnote in poker history.
Riess bounces back
Riess bounced back and put together a solid 2015, earning $259,587 in live tournaments. His name was suddenly showing up deep in tournaments all around the globe. More of the same followed in 2016. In fact, Riess earned $269,413 in tournaments last year. He even put together a memorable run in the WSOP Main Event before busting in 271st.
He entered 2017 as a force to be reckoned with on the live tournament circuit. Four months in, he’s already put together his best year as a pro outside of 2013. Now, he’s looking to put together close to seven figures in earnings before this year’s WSOP even begins.
Things got started for Riess with a deep run in the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event. However, they went to the next level when he won the $10,000 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Finale for $716,088 earlier this month.
A big win and more
Outside of the WSOP Main Event win, it marked Riess’ career best score and so much more. The win included getting past a top-ten that included pros Jason Koon, Cliff Josephy, Jonathan Jaffe and Marvin Rettenmaier. Additionally, the big score vaulted Riess into the top 50 on poker’s all-time leading money winner’s list.
In reality, Riess is a pretty nice and humble guy. He got caught up in the moment of winning a world title at a very young age. No one could blame him for making those cringeworthy and braggadocious statements at 23.
But suddenly, the 23-year-old kid who was once telling everybody he was the best poker player in the world, is a 26-year-old man proving at the very least, he belongs among them.
Still climbing the ranks
With a little over $10 million in live tournament earnings, Riess still has a long way to go to catch the guys at the top of the list. Daniel Negreanu and Erik Seidel both have over $30 million in earnings. However, he’s wasting no time climbing the ranks.
In fact, Riess just made the final table of the €10,000 Opening Event at PokerStars Championship presented by Monte-Carlo Casino in Monaco. Once the chip leader, he finished in sixth place for €63,000. Ole Schemion took the title.
Even without closing that tournament out, Riess is definitely proving he’s a US poker player player worth watching out for. And when it’s all said and done, all that bragging could prove prophetic.