The Beast Returns: Ryan Riess Wins SHPRO Finale for $716k

Ryan Riess is a champion once again.

The 2013 World Series of Poker winner proved that he’s no one-hit wonder by taking down the $10k buy-in WPT SHRPO Finale for $716,088.

“I really wanted to win,” he said.

“Even if you offered me second-place money straight up at the beginning of the day I would have said no. That’s how bad I wanted it.”

Riess outlasted a slightly smaller field (at least compared to the WSOP Main Event) of 349 but arguably a tougher one with renowned professionals Jason Koon, Cliff Josephy and Tim West at the final table.

The tournament represents Riess’ first major score since winning the Main Event roughly three years ago and bumped his lifetime earnings up to just over $10m.

“I run really good in $10k tournaments,” he laughed.

“This one feels especially good because I was able to beat a final table that included Cliff Josephy and Jason Koon. It’s amazing.”

Riess: “I Was Bad When I Won the Main Event”

When Riess won the Main Event in 2013 he exuberantly declared he was the best poker player in the world.

The bold declaration made waves in the poker world and he’s had a bit of time to reflect on it and admits he might have been have gotten a bit too enthusiastic.

Ryan Riess IMG 2589

One of the best?

“It was something that I said in the moment,” he said.

“Now I realize how bad I was four years ago. I don’t know how I won the Main [Event]. But I’ve been working on my game a lot.”

Riess, who just got back from playing a schedule of high rollers at the PokerStars Championship in Panama, went on to say that he does consider himself one of the best players in the world these days.

“I will say that if you don’t think that you’re one of the best players in the world and you’re playing the big buy-in tournaments… you probably shouldn’t be playing,” he said.

Riess survived an outright slugfest heads-up against 2011 Bay 101 winner Alan Sternberger that lasted over three hours and saw the chip lead change hands multiple times.

“Every break I was calling Joe Cada and a few others,” he said.

“He was helping prepare me because I have no heads-up experience really. He was very aggressive and put me in some tough spots.”

Josephy, Koon Bust Early

Surprisingly Cliff Josephy, Jason Koon and Tim West were the first three players to bust from the final table, deflating the competition just slightly.

Alan Sternberger

Alan Sternberger proved to be a formidable heads-up opponent.

Belgium’s Terry Schumacher took third place for $315,726, leaving Riess and Sternberger to battle it out.

Riess won’t have much time to celebrate as he also received entry into the elite $15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions which kicks off tomorrow at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino at noon local time.

The Michigan native was initially opposed to the idea of the TOC but is coming around now.

“The Tournament of Champions is great,” he said.

“I just don’t like tournaments that I can’t play. Hopefully I can go back-to-back in this one. I’m very excited.”

Here’s a complete look at the final-table payouts from the WPT SHRPO Finale:

1. Ryan Riess – $716,088
2. Alan Sternberger – $491,081
3. Terry Schumacher – $315,726
4. Tim West – $204,466
5. Jason Koon – $157,599
6. Cliff Josephy – $130,370