2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$10,000 WPT Showdown Finale
Prize Pool: $3,315,500
April 2 – 6, 2017
The second big World Poker Tour event kicked off on April 2 and the $10,000 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Finale drew an impressive group of players. After battling through the tough field, Ryan Riess defeated Alan Sternberg heads-up for the WPT title for more than $700,000 plus a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions.
“It feels amazing,” said Riess after his win. “The final table was so hard. It feels really good to be at the table with Cliff Josephy and Jason Koon and Alan [Sternberg] played great. He was tough. He was very aggressive and put me in a lot of hard spots. It feels really good.”
With the win on Thursday evening, Riess puts himself into an elite category of poker players. He joins Doyle Brunson, Joe Hachem, Scotty Nguyen, Dan Harrington, and Carlos Mortensen as the only players in history to win the WSOP Main Event and have their name on the WPT Champions Cup.
Riess won more than $8.3 million for his Main Event win in 2013 and added another $716,088 with his WPT title.
“I didn’t start crying,” joked Riess about the difference in his two wins. “I’m close, but it just feels great because I’ve been playing these and this is my first score over $100,000 in like four years or three and a half years or something. It just feels really good. I run really good in $10K’s and it brings all the best players out.
“So, to win a tournament where all the best players in the world, minus the few that are in Macau, are all here. It feels really good.”
Riess is now eligible for the WPT Tournament of Champions every year. He gets this year’s $15,000 entry paid for with his win, but it’s something that he’ll look to participate in in the years to come.
“I’m very excited,” said Riess about his chance to play in the Tournament of Champions. “The Tournament of Champions is great, but I don’t like tournaments that I can’t play in. So, to be able to play in it, I’m really excited. Hopefully I can go back-to-back.”
The WPT Finale featured a $2,000,000 guaranteed prize pool and a freeze-out format. Players had one shot to run up a stack, no re-entries allowed if they were eliminated. The tournament drew 349 players to easily surpass the guarantee and they grew the prize pool to $3,315,500 by the time registration closed at the start of Day 2.
Players came from all around the world to play in the WPT Finale alongside our local regulars and top US pros. Stephen Chidwick, Rainer Kempe, Eugene Katchalov, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, and Showdown Super High Roller champ Dietrich Fast were among the European contingent along with our Canadian friends Mike Leah, Noah Vaillancourt, and Kristen Bicknell.
The field was packed with WSOP bracelet winners, WPT Champions Club members, and past Seminole Hard Rock Poker champs. We also had three of the six players who have earned three WPT titles; Anthony Zinno, Darren Elias, and defending WPT Finale champ Chino Rheem.
Day 2 saw the close of registration to lock in the 349 players with 17 of them joining the game late. There were 193 players on Day 2 vying for the last 44 paid spots and the money bubble did not burst until late in the evening. Twelve hours after the start of Day 2, SHRP regular Dani Dayan was eliminated in 45th place to put the WPT Finale in the money.
Day 2 concluded with 27 players remaining with all eyeing the huge first place prize and the WPT Champions Cup. The three remaining tables included 2013 WSOP Main Event champ Riess, 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open champ Jason Koon, the popular Will “The Thrill” Failla, and 24 other tough players.
Sternberg ended Day 2 with the chip lead and finished in the same top spot for the final table. He kept up the pressure while other top players dropped around him such as Marvin Rettenmaier, Jake Bazeley, Alex Keating, and Jonathan Jaffe.
The WPT Finale final table featured players with almost $30,000,000 in combined earnings and 2011 WPT Bay101 Shooting Star champ Sternberg out front followed by Riess, Tim West, Jason Koon, Terry Schumacher, and 2016 WSOP November Niner Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy.
The stacks were deep but the action was fast from the very start.
Josephy was knocked out early when he ran his short stack into Sternberg’s kings and Koon followed a few hands later when his queen-high move did not get through.
Tim West was the shortest of the remaining four players and had an unfortunate chop against Riess before running out of chips in fourth place. Riess also eliminated Belgian Schumacher in third place and the heads-up match for the title was set.
Sternberg held a small lead against Riess but the WSOP champ was able to claw into the lead. The two exchanged leads several times, including an all in double up late for Sternberg, but Riess pushed his advantage. The final hand was a virtual coin flip with Riess’ big slick out-flopping pocket sevens for the win.
“I thought I had it in the bag when he was down to 2.5 million and I was wrong,” said Riess about the see-saw heads-up battle. “Because he doubled up and ended up taking the lead after that, I think. He was very aggressive and I don’t think he folded many buttons.
“Every break I was calling Joe Cada and a few other guys. Joe is like a heads-up specialist and he was kind of helping me prepare for this guy because I have no heads-up experience really. He was aggressive and putting me in tough spots. I am glad I won’t that flip in the end.”
Sternberg did not go away empty-handed. He cashed out for $491,081 and we will see him in the WPT Tournament of Champions. Riess earned $716,088 for his performance which includes a seat in the WPT TOC.
Riess continues to add to an already impressive list of credentials; the win pushed the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champion over $10,000,000 in career earnings to go along with his bracelet and WPT Finale title.
Final table results:
1st: Ryan Riess – $716,088*
2nd: Alan Sternberg – $491,081
3rd: Terry Schumacker – $315,726
4th: Tim West – $204,466
5th: Jason Koon – $157,599
6th: Cliff Josephy – $130,370
* – Includes $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions seat