It felt like the accomplishment of a lifetime for Riess at the time, but fast forward just one year later and it pales in comparison with what he pulled off at the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino Monday night — defeating Jay Farber to win the WSOP Main Event, the most coveted bracelet in the game, and $8,361,570.
After 171 hands of action, they were the last two players left and play ceased on Monday night.
Riess navigated the final table beautifully to play his way to heads-up action against Las Vegas VIP host and poker amateur Jay Farber.
Riess was the youngest of this year’s final tablists at 23 years of age.
The Waterford, MI native joins fellow Michigan resident Joe Cada on the list of young poker pros that have claimed the World Championship since the inception of the November Nine in 2008.
Last year’s winner Greg Merson is the oldest of the bunch at 24, while Cada is the youngest at just 21 years of age.
Riess is also the first Main Event Champ to be born in the 1990s.
At 22, Riess kick-started his poker career on the WSOP Circuit. A year later, he is World Champion. It is a whirlwind, a fairy tale, an underdog story, and what the World Series Of Poker is all about.
About a year ago, Ryan Riess decided to take his shot and play in the World Series Of Poker Circuit Main Event in Hammond.
The former poker dealer and Michigan State University student defied the odds to navigate a field of 1,523 entries and end up heads-up with Joshua Williams for the ring and more than $385,000.
For Riess, this win is a dream ten years in the making.
“I’ve been dreaming about it for a long time, ever since I was 14 and saw [Chris] Moneymaker win it,” Riess said shortly after his victory.
Riess had a hard time finding words to describe what it felt like winning over $8 million in front of a large crowd of friends and family.
“I was so excited waiting 100 days or whatever it was to play this. I’m just speechless.”, he managed to declare.
Here are the final table results from the 2013 WSOP Main Event:
1. Ryan Riess – USA – $8,361,570
2. Jay Farber – USA – $5,174,357
3. Amir Lehavot – Israel – $3,727,823
4. Sylvain Loosli – France – $2,792,533
5. JC Tran – USA – $2,792,533
6. Marc-Etienne McLaughlin – $2,106,893
7. Michiel Brummelhuis – Netherlands – $1,225,356
8. David Benefield – USA – $944,650
9. Mark Newhouse – USA – $733,224