LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Ryan Riess guaranteed victory on poker’s biggest stage.
It wasn’t without a few struggles, but the guarantee held up.
The 23-year-old Waterford Township native and Michigan State graduate held off a furious comeback by Jay Farber at the final table of the 2013 World Series of Poker’s Main Event late Tuesday at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to win poker’s Super Bowl — and $8.4 million.
The win came just after midnight in Michigan, but not before Riess saw an 11-to-1 chip lead dwindle to less than 2-to-1 before the MSU alum righted the ship.
After working their way through a tournament field of more than 6,300 entrants, the final hand saw Riess’s ace-king of hearts against Farber queen-five of spades. The community cards gave Farber no help, clinching the title for the man from Michigan, proudly wearing a Calvin Johnson jersey to show for the ESPN cameras.
Riess is the third Michigan native to win the WSOP Main Event, joining Shelby Township’s Joe Cada (2009) and Grand Rapids native Tom McEvoy (1983.)
When asked by ESPN why he had been so confident in himself throughout the final table, Riess had a simple answer.
“I just think I’m the best player in the world.”