Tournament coverage Poker

Confident or arrogant?

Written by Ben Blaschke

Last week, 23-year-old Ryan Riess from Michigan won the World Series of Poker Main Event and a first prize of well over US$8 million. Yet it turns out his stunning victory hasn’t been the main talking point in the days since. Instead, some comments he made both before the final table and immediately after his win have certainly stirred up plenty of debate over the past week or so.

Riess wasn’t backwards in letting the world know just how good he thought he was, claiming beforehand that he expected to win because he was the best player in the November 9, then stating afterwards he felt he was the best player in the world.

That second comment stirred up all sorts of debate among the poker community with the likes of Scott Seiver and Eric Baldwin particularly critical of both his words and his play. Baldwin later Tweeted, “Gave the kid the benefit of the doubt until that interview during Sportscenter. Far more disappointing than the performance is the lack of class. So 23 years old is now below the cutoff of being able to expect some class?”

So what is our take on Riess’ claims? For starters, to suggest he is the best player in the world is ridiculous. Winning the WSOP Main Event is a great achievement but with a field of almost 6,500 players taking part you need good luck as much as good management to go all the way. This was also just his second major cash in a live event so he has a long way to go to prove he can play at a consistently high level.

Eric Baldwin is no fan of Ryan Riess

Eric Baldwin is no fan of Ryan Riess

Having said that, he did play the best poker of anyone at the final table. It might have been a different story had Marc-Etienne McLaughlin run a little better or JC Tran not been card dead from the outset but for the most part Riess was pretty solid.

It would also have been hard not to get carried away in the moment. Success at the poker table can do wonders for a person’s confidence. But in a world where so many of the young “internet kids” display an unearned arrogance, it is understandable the rest of us yearn for some humility.

Let’s just hope Riess learns his lesson. If not, the coming years could well prove particularly challenging for him.