Ryan Riess knows the view from the top of the poker world. The player climbed up there when he won the WSOP $10,000 Main Event in 2013. Now, almost four years later, the Michigan-born poker pro has ticked off another poker goal – to win a major WPT Main Tour event.
It was only several hours ago when the players scored his first WPT victory. Riess was crowned victor of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker $10,000 Finale after five days of play and a strenuous heads-up duel against one-time WPT champion Alan Sternberg at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The player received $716,088 in prize money for his triumph.
Six players returned Thursday afternoon at the host venue for a final table battle. Sternberg started play as the chip leader and was clearly determined to march toward a second victory. And entering heads-up as the chip leader, it really looked that the player could do that.
All six finalists were at least 34 big blinds deep when play began on Thursday and it was expected that it would take quite a while before a player left the table. However, the first elimination occurred on Hand 18 with Cliff Josephy’s [Ax][Jx] running into Sternberg’s pocket Kings. Another player – Jason Koon – hit the rail on Hand 27.
Action slowed a bit for the next 47 hands. Tim West then lost an all-in confrontation against Riess to leave in 4th place. Terry Schumacher was the last one to bust before heads-up.
As already mentioned, two-handed match kicked off with Sternberg holding the chip advantage. However, Riess was not ready to give up on the title. The two players battled it out for hours, the chip lead switching hands multiple times.
Two-handed action ran for 101 hands. Hand #210 was the final one dealt and played on Thursday, the one that secured Riess with the victory. It unfolded with Riess raising to 450,000 and Sternberg re-raising to 1,150,000. Riess gave it a thought before moving all in. His opponent snap-called with [7s][7d]. Riess tabled [Ah][Kh] in anticipation for the board. And it ran out [Kc][6s][6d][Kd][10c], winning Riess the pot with a full house. Sternberg missed the chance to capture a second title but added a nice payout of $491,081 to his poker bankroll.
Talking about his latest accomplishment, Riess told WPT interviewers that it was a challenging task with so many tough opponents. The player further noted that he will now be striving for a back-to-back victory, something he can do if he wins the upcoming WPT Tournament of Champions. The season-ending event is scheduled to commence today at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.
Riess emerged victorious from a field of 349 entries. A prize pool of $3,315,500 was generated and distributed to the top 44 finishers.