Ryan Riess: 'I Played Every Hand of the Main Event Perfectly'

Published on 14 October 2013 by Pokerlistings 442

November Niner Ryan Riess certainly isn't short on confidence going into the final table of the 2013 WSOP Main Event. The East Lansing, Michigan native told PokerListings.com that he didn't make a single mistake during the Main Event, and that it would mean everything to him if he leaves Las Vegas in November as world champion. We're sure he won't mind the $8.3 million first-place prize either.

I started playing poker when I was 14, in 8th grade I believe it was, just with friends and a little bit online here and there. And then I went to Michigan State for college and was playing and dealing at the same time throughout college. And I graduated in December and right after that I started playing professionally.

I taught myself how to play. A couple of my friends in middle school and high school, they started playing shortly before me and we just played together and basically just taught each other in a way, but no professional teaching or classes or anything.

Yeah, I've wanted to play poker forever but my parents wanted me to go to school first in case it didn't work out because most people don't think that playing poker professionally is a real living. It's kind of out there. It's a little out of bounds in a sense. So I graduated from college just to make my parents happy and as a backup plan. Well, my first cash ever was in October, this past...a year ago I think, so 51 weeks ago or so, and that was for almost $300,000 in Hammond. And after that, I had a whole bunch of smaller cashes. Between that and the main event, my biggest cash was $20,000. I think I had 15 or 16 cashes in that time frame, but they were all smaller.

Before my first score for $270,000 I believe it was, they did not want me to play poker professionally because they wanted me to get a job and live the nine to five life. And after that score, they began to accept me playing poker but they still wanted me to get my degree at the same time, but they are behind me 100%.

Many people think that playing poker professionally is gambling, but to poker players it's not really gambling because there's skill involved and if you put the hard work and dedication and the time in, you can actually form a game that's not...it's different than playing Black Jack or going to the slot machine where it's all luck based. There's actually a skill factor involved.

Yeah, it's really exciting being able to play at the final table of the biggest poker tournament in the world. It'll probably really hit me once I sit down and see 1,000 people around me or whatever, but yeah it's very exciting. I'm excited to go out there and do it. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to react to all the cameras and the spotlight, but I'm not nervous right now. Maybe when I sit down, I may get a little bit nervous, but right now I'm more excited.

Everybody at the table is very good. I think that MarK Mclachlan and J.C. Tran are probably going to give me the hardest time because they're both to my left, and they both have a lot of chips. And David Benefield is obviously very good. If he gets a double up he may pose a lot of threats. But I think that Mark Mclachlan and J.C. Tran are going to be the two toughest for me.

Yeah, I'm sure a lot of people are going to become more involved and watch more because, I assume, that I will be on ESPN a lot more especially if everything goes as planned in November. Personally, I would have rather played it out right afterward. I was in the zone, and I don't think I made a mistake pretty much the entire tournament. I was just playing every hand perfectly. And I still plan on doing that going back in November, but I haven't been preparing much. I've been playing a decent amount. I'll be here for the next three weeks in Paris playing the WSOP and then the WPT. But I'm not...many people are preparing more than I am. So, in that sense, I wish that we would have just played it out up front. It would mean everything to me to win it, and I'm going to try my hardest.