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Poker Pro Ryan Riess On Winning $65,000 Playing Dice: It Was My Friend's Money

2013 Main Event Champ Talks About Avoiding Pit Games


Last year’s main event champion Ryan Riess is preparing for another summer in Las Vegas at the World Series of Poker. The young poker pro from Michigan is looking to continue his maturation process on and off the felt en route to a second bracelet.

Prior to winning poker’s most prestigious tournament last fall, Riess opened up about some of his degenerate gambling habits, and how he had learned the massive errors in his thinking prior to making the final table. It was fortunate for him, because he was on the verge of winning $8.3 million in prize money. His days of blowing money “like it grows on the tree” were in the past, he said.

A couple of weekends ago Riess raised some eyebrows when he Tweeted that he “just ran $2,500 into $67,500 in a half hour shooting dice at Red Rock [casino].” One person responded with, “let me know when you put your bracelet on eBay,” while another said, “uh, oh old demons never die.”

Card Player asked Riess about the Tweet, as well as what his plans are for the 2014 WSOP.

Brian Pempus: How do you feel coming into this WSOP after winning the main event last year?

Ryan Riess: I feel great. I have a pretty decent sized schedule lined up. I’m going to be playing 15 to 20 events, and hopefully I’ll win another bracelet.

BP: What have you been up to since you won the title?

RR: I have been playing a little bit. I went down to Australia for the Aussie Millions and the Bahamas for the PCA, and played a few WPT events in the States. Definitely have been mixing it up and taking some time off. I’m going to be playing a lot this summer.

BP: Do you think your game has improved since you were at the final table?

RR: Yeah, definitely. I’ve had to change my game a little bit. People play back at me more than they have in the past. So, I’ve had to adjust.

BP: When I talked to you last year, you told me about vicious bankroll swings. Have you been able to avoid playing other games, like in the pit?

RR: Oh, yeah, I haven’t done that in awhile—at least with my own money. I learned my lesson a long time ago.

BP: I did see a Tweet in which you talked about playing dice. Was that just a one time thing?

RR: Yeah, I was actually gambling for a friend, so it wasn’t my money.

BP: Oh, ok. Your friend just kind of thought you would be luckier than him?

RR: Yes, exactly. I just went and shot for him.

BP: Would you advise other poker players who head to Vegas this summer to avoid the other casino games and just stick to poker?

RR: Yeah, I’d say stay away from those unless you are doing it for entertainment. Don’t ever sit down expecting to make money. The house has an edge on you, so it’s impossible to win at those in the long-run. Poker, you are able to win in the long-run. I’d stick to poker if it was my first time coming out to the World Series in Las Vegas.

BP: Is it tough, as a poker player, to bust out of a tournament, in perhaps a tough way, and avoid that temptation to go to the pit and try to win your buy-in back?

RR: No, at least not for me. My girlfriend is always with me, so if I bust we’ll just go out to eat or something and hang out. Some people may try to do that to get their buy-in back, but most of the time you are just going to put yourself into a deeper hole.