Clarkston's Ryan Riess, shown here in 2013 after winning more than $8 million, remains alive in the World Series of Poker Main Event. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)
One Michigan poker star’s journey is over.
Another one’s still remains in pretty good shape.
Shelby Township’s Joe Cada, who five years ago took down poker’s top championship and the $8.5 million prize, was eliminated from this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Ryan Riess, the Clarkston native and Michigan State alumnus, remains comfortably in the field, after taking down the Main Event championship — and $8.3 million — last November.
Cada, 26, was sitting nicely in chips Wednesday. Around 5 p.m. Eastern, his chip stack was above the average for remaining players. Just one hour later, though, he caught the ultimate “cooler” hand — he was dealt pocket kings and, naturally, shoved all his chips in. Quickly, he learned he was up against his opponent’s pocket aces.
“Just busted,” Cada texted The News.
Still, it’s been a worthwhile summer for Cada in Las Vegas, where last month he won his second WSOP bracelet to go with a check for more than $600,000.
He told The News on Wednesday he’s likely staying in Vegas for one more week, before returning home to Michigan — and Canada, where he works his full-time job, as an online-poker stud.
Riess, 24, was off Wednesday, but returns to Main Event play Thursday, and will have a healthy chip stack of 84,900. That’s nearly three times the original stack, and actually is more than he had entering Day 3 last year.
Still, Riess, testing the long-shot odds of being a repeat winner in a tournament with a field of nearly 7,000, could’ve been in better shape. Late Tuesday, he was up around 136,000 chips heading to the final break. That’s when he started playing a bit loose.
“Everybody was playing really tight,” Riess told The News. “I got caught in a couple pots I shouldn’t have.
“I’m still happy.”
And why wouldn’t he be?
It’s been a whirlwind year for Riess, who’s gone from obscure poker amateur to one of the most recognizable faces in the game. (It helps that he has that recognizable blond, curly hair.)
His Main Event title, won while donning a Calvin Johnson Lions jersey, made him not just an instant millionaire, but a celebrity, too — being frequently stopped for photos and autographs. It’s made him able to do some traveling. And it’s also made him a homeowner for the first time. Riess just purchased his first house, in Las Vegas.
“It’s been crazy,” Riess said.
Crazier, of course, would be a second Main Event crown.
Of course, that’s still a pipe dream at this point. Then again, it was at this point last year, too.