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Clarkston's Ryan Riess: Second WSOP bracelet 'will happen'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Ryan Riess

It's not very often Ryan Riess gets a day off during the World Series of Poker's annual Vegas circuit.

But after bagging a healthy stack of chips Saturday in the mega-field Millionaire Maker, he had Sunday to relax.

"It's nice out, so I'll try to get some sun," he said.

The break is well-deserved for the Clarkston star poker pro, who, last week, earned his best finish in the Vegas WSOP since he won the Main Event and $8.4 million in 2013.

Riess, a Michigan State graduate, lost in the semifinals of the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship — finishing two match victories from his coveted second WSOP bracelet.

He lost to veteran poker pro John Smith, who went on to finish runner-up in the event for a second straight year.

Adrian Mateos won the title and $324,470.

Riess won $125,454, with 10 percent going to Shelby Township's Joe Cada. They often swap 10 percent of events they both compete in.

"We do it a lot," Riess said of his partnership with Cada, the 2009 Main Event champion and two-time bracelet winner. "I feel like he helps me out more than I help him out.

"It's nice to have other people rooting for you, not only as friends but also from a financial standpoint."

Riess, who doesn't consider himself a heads-up expert, made an impressive run in the tournament last week, finishing in the Final Four out of a field of 128.

Smith, though, proved a tough opponent.

Two hands did in Riess — he lost with ace-king suited to jacks, and nines to king-queen offsuit.

"He played very well," Riess said. "He was very unorthodox. He was unpredictable. He didn't play how the normal pros play. He was very tricky."

Still, the performance gave Riess hope that his day is coming to win his second bracelet.

The second bracelet is considered validation in the poker world. One bracelet can be fluky; a second typically means you've arrived on the scene.

Not that Riess is concerned with his place in poker's hierarchy. He's won more than $1 million in tournaments this year, including a title in a World Poker Tour event in Florida in January.

"I was close, a couple people away," Riess said. "It'll definitely happen at some point."

Riess, 26, is one of thousands of participants in the $1,500-buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Millionaire Maker, which he considers the best value of the summer WSOP circuit at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Vegas.

He said aspiring poker players who want to try out the WSOP should consider the Millionaire Maker weekend, because of the modest buy-in structure and the potential for a huge payout.


Another Michigan man made a final table, bringing the total to four already this season.

Rochester Hills' David "Bakes" Baker finished sixth in a $1,500-buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament, earning a payday of $33,184.

Meanwhile, Traverse City's Royce Matheson came close to a final table, taking seventh in a $1,500-buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed tournament for a payout of $46,887.

... Some of the biggest names in poker have been close to bracelets this year, including Daniel Negreanu, who finished second in the $10,000-buy-in Omaha Hi-Low 8 or Better Championship, and Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, who was fifth in the $10,000-buy-in Dealers Choice 6-Handed Championship.

Negreanu has six WSOP bracelets, and Matusow four.