At the Woodward Dream Show, the Deuces are wild

'It was a great time': See how Michigan's card sharks fared at World Series of Poker in Vegas

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Might as well call him "Mad" Dash Dudley.

Dudley, a Michigan State wrestler-turned-poker player, bought in to just eight tournaments in this summer's World Series of Poker circuit in Las Vegas, and made the money in five of them — including his third bracelet. He earned more than $1.1 million from the five cashes.

"It was huge. Probably my biggest summer ever," Dudley said Wednesday night, back in Michigan, taking a quick break from playing a big-money game at MGM Grand Detroit. "It was a great time. Probably had the best run I've ever had. It was a great time."

East Lansing's Dash Dudley celebrates his third career World Series of Poker bracelet.

Dudley and fellow Michigan State alum Ryan Riess, the 2013 WSOP Main Event champion, led the large Michigan contingent during the summer WSOP series, which was wrapping up this week with the Tournament of Champions. There were 89 live tournaments and 13 online tournaments.

Before the cards were in the air for the Tournament of Champions, Riess stood 28th in WSOP player-of-the-year points, and Dudley was 30th.

Dudley, 36, won Michigan's only bracelet this summer, in a $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em (NLHE) tournament. It was a turbo event, meaning the blinds go up fast. Dudley, a Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) stud, only got into the tournament because it was a turbo, and he thought it'd be over fast.

But the tournament drew such a large field, with 2,569 players, that it went over into Day 2. Twenty players bagged chips for Day 2, with Dudley the short stack at three blinds.

Yet, he rallied for the championship — his first in NLHE — and the first prize of $301,396.

"I wasn't really looking forward to coming back with that stack," Dudley said with a laugh.

The win marked Dudley's second WSOP bracelet in Vegas, having won his first in 2019 in PLO. He won a second WSOP bracelet in 2019, also in PLO, in Europe.

But this summer's win wasn't even his biggest cash.

Two weeks earlier, Dudley made a long run in the $50,000 buy-in high-roller PLO tournament, and finished second, for a payday of $861,442. His other three cashes were minimal, and all in PLO, as well.

The profitable summer was a boon for Dudley, who is starting a family with his wife, Rocky. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Dari. At the table, he wore shirts that read, "Do It For Dari." Dudley did his fair share of celebrating during his epic run in Vegas, with lots of his fellow Michigan poker pros, as well as family.

And, yes, he picked up his fair share of the tabs.

"The party," said Dudley, who resides in East Lansing but spends much of his winters grinding at poker rooms in Los Angeles, "rolled to the next tournament."

While Dudley limited his WSOP schedule, Riess, 32, took the opposite approach.

Riess, a Clarkston native, played in 43 tournaments — so he was seated at the table nearly every day from the start of the WSOP circuit at the end of May until late last week.

It was such a grueling run that Riess vows not to play poker at all in August — a first for him. He'll return to the felt sometime in September, he figures.

On Wednesday, he took a phone call at Dave & Buster's in Las Vegas. He took his two young kids.

"I don't even want to think about poker for a month," Riess said, with a laugh.

"I'm exhausted. I wore myself into the ground."

Riess cashed in 12 WSOP tournaments this summer, including two big scores. 

He took third in a $5,000 buy-in mixed tournament (NLHE and PLO), for $302,980, then two weeks later he was runner-up at a $1,111 buy-in NLHE tournament for $331,056.

While it proved a very profitable summer for Riess — who's not hurting, with more than $10 million in career tournament earnings, thanks in large part to his $8.3 million score at the 2013 Main Event — taking second remains a bitter feeling. Nine years after he burst onto the poker scene with shaggy hair and wearing a Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson jersey, he has yet to win that second WSOP bracelet.

He had his shot here. Heads-up was a back-and-forth affair, until Riess found himself all-in and way ahead with pocket nines to his opponent's six-three off-suit. The opponent, Idaho's Mike Allis, found a two on the river to make a straight, and send Riess packing.

"I wish I would've just played better heads-up; it's never really been my strong suit," he said. "I think it's a blessing in disguise that I lost. Now I'm gonna put a lot more emphasis on getting better at heads-up.

"That's the positive. I'll get another one."

Clarkston's Ryan Riess reacts after just missing out on his second career World Series of Poker bracelet.

Other final-table scores from Michigan men at this summer's WSOP circuit, which moved from its long-time home at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to The Strip, spread out over Bally's and Paris:

►Southgate's Jordan Hufty took seventh in a $500 NLHE tournament for $113,145.

►Grand Rapids' Brekstyn Schutten took fifth in a $25,000 NHL tournament for $323,730, then second place in a $50,000 NHLE tournament for $820,808.

►Jackson's Nathan Russler took third in a $3,000 NHLE tournament for $248,298.

►Detroit's Germandio Andoni took fourth in a $1,000 PLO tournament for $87,167.

►Grand Rapids' Dominic Brazier took fifth in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker NLHE tournament for $301,346.

►North Muskegon's Corey Paggeot took second in a $1,000 tag-team NHLE tournament for $45,756, and Saline's Jonathan Schiller took fifth in the same tournament for $17,150. Paggeot also took seventh in a $3,200 online NHLE tournament for $35,070.

►West Bloomfield's Thair Kallabat took sixth in a $10,000 PLO tournament for $215,326.

►North Branch's Andrew Peplinski took eighth in a $600 mixed tournament for $18,464.

Michigan will have to wait another year for another Main Event champion. Farmington Hills' Danny Hannawa's had the best state showing in the $10,000 crown-jewel event, pocketing $176,200.

Four years before Riess won the Main Event in 2013, Shelby Township's Joe Cada won it. Cada, 34, now a four-time WSOP bracelet winner, was back at the Las Vegas summer circuit after skipping it last year and had a fine showing, with 11 cashes. His best finish was seventh in a $1,500 NLHE tournament for $61,098.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984