By Shari Geller
On November 4, the November Nine sat down at the final table of the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event at the Penn & Teller Theatre at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. After sevenand- a-half hours of play, just two remained to return on November 5 for the ninth and final day of play, 23-year-old Michigan State grad Ryan Riess and chip leader 29-year-old Vegas club promoter Jay Farber. It took 90 hands of heads-up play for Riess to overcome the chip disadvantage to take down the title, the bracelet and the $8,359,531top prize to become the 2013 WSOP Main Event champ.
The Waterford, Michigan native and former poker dealer was the youngest player at the final table that was led by twotime bracelet winner JC Tran and included a talented field that boasted another WSOP bracelet winner, Amir Lehavot, former online phenom David Benefield, talented pros Marc- Etienne McLaughlin, who finished 30th in the 2009 Main Event, and Mark Newhouse, who has seven WSOP cashes and one WPT title to his name.
Lehavot took down the first hand to get the action started and it was an active final table right off the start with threeand four-betting pre-flop as well as the short stacks putting their tournament lives on the line, with first Newhouse and then Benefield going all in with the worst of it and sucking out. Just before the first break, Newhouse was all in again with pocket nines against Riess’s As-Kh but lost the race and became the first player eliminated. He was followed shortly by Benefield who ran a suited king into the Ace-King of Farber and missed his flush outs when the river blanked.
Lehavot took down the first hand to get the action started and it was an active final table right off the start with threeand four-betting pre-flop as well as the short stacks putting their tournament lives on the line, with first Newhouse and then Benefield going all in with the worst of it and sucking out. Just before the first break, Newhouse was all in again with pocket nines against Riess’s AsKh but lost the race and became the first player eliminated. He was followed shortly by Benefield who ran a suited king into the Ace-King of Farber and missed his flush outs when the river blanked.
The remaining six battled for nearly three hours before the next player was eliminated. Canadian McLaughlin, supported by an enthusiastic rail that included 2010 Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel, doubled up through Tran before having the bad luck to get into a preflop raising war when he found kings only to have Farber wake up with aces. That hand gave Farber a massive chip lead with five players left.
The next three players went out rather quickly after that, with Tran risking his life with a weak ace which fell short of Farber’s Kc-Qh. Riess then took out the next two players, Loosli and Lehavot, to get heads up.
When two-handed play began, Farber had the chip lead, with 105 million chips to Riess’ 85 million. The first big pot the two played went to Riess, who rivered trip aces against Farber’s turned bottom two pair for a 50 million chip pot and the chip lead. Riess was close to taking an early, dominant lead when Farber pulled off a great bluff with five-six on a 3s-3h-7c-2c-9s board. Riess had Qh-7s for two pair and tanked for some ten minutes before giving up his hand and putting the two back to even.
Farber told Riess he had bluffed with the six high, knowing that with the fifteen minute delay on the televised table Riess would find out soon. Farber tried to pull off a similar move a few hands later, but this time Riess made the call to regain the big chip lead. Riess dominated the battle hitting hand after hand. The first time Farber went all in and was called, it ended up a chopped pot. He was down to just 15 big blinds before the first break and went all in on a draw holding Jc-10s to the Ks10h of Riess on a Kc5hQs board. Farber was a 3-2 dog, but spiked the 9h on the turn to win the hand when it ran out with a Qc on the river.
Farber looked to have a second life when he bet big on a three-club board and Riess, thinking he was bluffing again, called with just queen high only to be crushed by Farber’s nine-high flush. But that was the last hand that Farber made and Riess, with a combination of some well-timed pre-flop raises and hitting hands when he needed to, built back up to an overwhelming chip lead.
On the 90th hand of headsup play, Farber pushed all in again with just over twelve big blinds. His Qs-5s was dominated by Riess’ AhKh and things only got worse after the 4c-Jd-10d flop, leaving Farber with just one of the three remaining fives to stay alive. But the board ran out 3c-4d and Farber was out in second place for $5,184,357.
Ryan Riess, who outlasted a starting field of 6,352, joins fellow Michigan natives Joe Cada (2009) and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Tom McEvoy (1983) as winners of the most prestigious event in poker. But it wasn’t much of a surprise to Riess. While odds makers had him at 4-1 to win, he was quoted before the final table as putting his odds much better. “Oh I have to be the favorite.” That confidence, strong play and a great run of cards were the magic combination.
RIO ALL SUITES HOTEL WORLD SERIES OF POKER EVENT #62 11/5/13 NO LIMIT HOLD’EM CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT BUY-IN $10,000 PLAYERS 6,352 PRIZE POOL $59,708,800 1. Ryan Riess. . . . . . . $8,361,570 2. Jay Farber. . . . . . . $5,174,357 3. Amir Lehavot. . . . . . $3,727,823 4. Sylvain Loosli. . . . . $2,792,533 5. J.C. Tran . . . . . . . $2,106,893 6. Marc Etienne McLaughlin $1,601,024 7. Michiel Brummelhuis . . $1,225,356 8. David Benefield . . . . $944,650 9. Mark Newhouse . . . . . $733,224