The last person to win a world championship while wearing a Detroit Lions jersey fell a little short in his efforts to recapture that glory.
To clear up the matter, the game was poker, not football. And the player was Michigan State graduate Ryan Riess, who, at 23, stormed his way to the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event title while sporting a Lions Calvin Johnson No. 81 jersey.
Riess was back on the felt (it was virtual this time) the last couple of days competing in the hybrid version of the 2020 WSOP Main Event that had the early rounds played entirely online. The final nine players will convene in person in Las Vegas at the Rio casino on Dec. 28 to play down to one person.
This COVID edition of the WSOP Main Event is bifurcated in another way — while there is a U.S. half to this tournament, there’s also a ROW (Rest of the World) contingent with its own final table of nine that will play down to one person in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The two surviving players, from the U.S. and from the ROW, will play heads-up in Vegas, also at the Rio, for the WSOP Main Event bracelet.
Meanwhile, Riess — who was known as “Riess the Beast” back in 2013 — made a valiant run at another Main Event bracelet the last few days. From a starting field of 705 entrants, Riess stubbornly hung on until he was knocked out in 47th place on Monday.
The player from Michigan was eliminated by another relatively well-known pro, Jason Somerville, who won his own WSOP bracelet in a $1,000 No-limit Hold ‘em event in 2011.
On his final hand, Riess, who goes by the online handle of "BiTC0iN," found himself short-stacked in the big blind. Somerville raised under the gun and action folded back to Riess, who called off the rest of his chips. Riess showed 2-5 off-suit and Somerville had Jack-King off-suit. A Jack showed on the flop giving Somerville a pair of Jacks and Riess never caught up.
When Riess won the WSOP Main Event, first place paid more than $8.3 million. For finishing 47th in this year’s COVID edition of the Main Event, the prize was $22,234.
The U.S. field started with 705 players while the ROW portion began with 674 runners. The 1,379 players were far less than the field from last year’s “normal” Main Event when 8,569 players competed at the Rio. However, organizers wanted to preserve the continuity of the event which was the 51st such championship.
The buy-in remained $10,000. On the U.S. side, the winner will get about $1.5 million. An extra $1 million is being added to the championship table.