What will the future hold for WSOP Champ Ryan Riess?

WSOP Nov 9Last week Ryan Riess became the 11th World Series of Champion of the Internet era, joining celebrated names like Chris Moneymaker and Joe Hachem as WSOP Champions, as well as more dubious WSOP winners like Jamie Gold and Jerry Yang.

So which side of the ledger will Riess land? Keep reading to find out.

The Previous 10 Champions

If recent history is any indication it’s unlikely Riess will find himself up on poker’s Mount Rushmore someday –despite his claims of being the “best poker player in the world,” considering half of the Internet era WSOP champions have had a really tough go of it.

Not only did five of the 10 previous winners of the WSOP Main Event struggle afterwards, it could easily be argued that they have been at best inadequate representatives of the game and at worst, float out bad for poker.

Here is how I would separate the past 10 WSOP Champions based on whether their win, and subsequent actions, helped or hurt poker.

Good for Poker

Bad for Poker

Chris Moneymaker

Jamie Gold

Greg Raymer

Jerry Yang

Joe Hachem

Peter Eastgate

Jonathan Duhamel

Joe Cada

Greg Merson

Pius Heinz

So this doesn’t turn into a long drawn-out history lesson I’ll just list each player and explain how they landed on their respective side of the chart above:

2003 WSOP Champion Chris Moneymaker

Other things like the hole-card cam, Rounders, and Internet poker may have laid the foundation for the Poker Boom, but it was Chris Moneymaker who lit the match on the fuse.

2004 WSOP Champion Greg Raymer

Greg’s continued to be a presence at tournaments since his big win, and has been a key figure in the fight to legalize online poker.

2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem

Joe helped ignite an Australian Poker Boom after his win, and without question is the most accomplished Main Event champion of the Internet era.

2006 WSOP Champion Jamie Gold

When a rule is put in place with your name on it you know you have some issues. Add to that Gold’s numerous mini-scandals, from the lawsuit over his winnings to auctioning off his WSOP bracelet.

2007 WSOP Champion Jerry Yang

I like Jerry, and never considered him bad for poker until he ran into trouble with IRS and his bracelet and other items went to auction. Regardless of the reason, seeing a WSOP champ hit that kind of financial hardship is terrible for poker’s public image.

2008 WSOP Champion Peter Eastgate

There was so much potential, but simply no substance, to Peter Eastgate. Still it was Eastgate’s “weird” decision to quit poker and auction off his bracelet and then return to poker the following year only to flame out again landed him in the “bad” column.

2009 WSOP Champion Joe Cada

I feel bad for Joe because he basically ruined the prearranged storybook ending that had Phil Ivey winning the 2009 Main Event. Constant cat-calls of “luckbox” and trying to prove himself seem to have taken their toll on Cada, as he just appears frustrated, dejected, and out of love with the game that made him famous.

2010 WSOP Champion Jonathan Duhamel

Duhamel continues to play at a high level, and has done a good deal of marketing campaigns for both PokerStars and for the One Drop Foundation.

2011 WSOP Champion Pius Heinz

Pius simply dropped off the planet after his 2011 win, and even though he has a couple of tournament cashes since he doesn’t play anywhere near the volume you would expect from a recent Main Event winner.

2012 WSOP Champion Greg Merson

I can’t blame Merson for not turning into a tournament grinder and going back to his cash-game roots, and while this may limit his exposure, when he is around (like at the 2013 WSOP Main Event final table) he is more than willing to do his part as a former WSOP winner.

Riess’s Poker History

Prior to his WSOP run Ryan Riess could pretty much be categorized as a circuit grinder if his Hendon Mob stats are any type of indicator. Riess was a regular on the World Series of Poker Circuit tour, where he racked-up some decent results after being shot out of the gates like a rocket, winning the Main Event of the WSOPC Hammond tournament series in October of 2012.

Looking through Riess’s Hendon Mob results paints the picture of solid No Limit Holdem tournament player, who has finished in the two biggest tournaments of his life; the first cash of his career was his Hammond win for nearly $240k, and of course his WSOP victory.

I’d argue that as of right now, Riess is a solid big-field/weak-field No Limit Holdem player. What we haven’t seen from him is any kind of track-record in smaller-filed, higher-buy-in tournaments.

If Riess wants to live up to his “best player in the world” boast he will need to prove himself on the EPT, the WPT, or in subsequent WSOP series –the best poker players in the world do not travel the WSOP Circuit.

Does Riess Have What it Takes?

At this point, who can really say what path Ryan Riess’s career will take. But it seems like the past five champions have all been Riess clones and overall they haven’t fared so well.

Minus Greg Merson from the conversation, since it’s too early to judge him in any way, and without doubt Jonathan Duhamel has had the most success of the bunch, and also seems to have the most mental fortitude as well –perhaps the two go hand in hand?

Eastgate essentially imploded after his win, going so far as to quit poker; Cada just seems unhappy, like he just took a bad beat or expects one to be coming very soon; and Pius Heinz has all but disappeared since his 2011 win.

If we assume that all of the recent winners were skilled players, it would seem to suggest that winning the WSOP Main Event comes with a healthy dose of unrealistic expectations from the rest of the poker world, and it would seem to be that most people simply aren’t ready to live up to these lofty expectations.

Have something to add? Register at PokerForums.org and keep the conversation going!

Relevant news