Last year, the World Series of Poker Circuit held the inaugural $1,000,000 National Championship featuring 100 players who had qualified for the freeroll either by winning a Main Event, claiming a casino championship title, or winning enough points on the national leaderboard. What you might not know is that one man won a WSOPC Main Event and wasn't awarded a seat to the national championship. We’re talking about our latest Rookie Roundup selection, John Riordan, who turned out to be ineligible for last year’s national championship.
In March 2011, Riordan conquered a field of 712 players to win the WSOP Circuit Palm Beach Kennel Club for $210,180. He accomplished the feat at age 19, making him the youngest ring winner of all time. Florida only requires players to be 18 to play in their casinos, whereas Las Vegas requires patrons to be 21. Therefore, Riordan was unable to accept the seat into the national championship, a prize that accompanies every WSOP Circuit Main Event win.
Not being able to play the million-dollar freeroll was a missed opportunity, especially when you consider how well he had been playing. In the Palm Beach Main Event Riordan began the final day third in chips with 24 players remaining. He used that big stack to cruise to the final table, which is where he hit a few speed bumps. Nonetheless, the wunderkind kept his composure and managed to make it to heads-up play against Mike Mortin.
In their penultimate hand, with blinds at 50,000/100,000 and a 10,000 ante, Riordan made it 250,000 from the button and Morton defended his big blind. The latter then checked the flop and Riordan fired out a 325,000 bet, only to have Morton check-raise to 900,000. Riordan called, and that brought them to the turn.
From there, Morton moved his stack all-in and Riordan spent a few minutes in the tank before calling off his last 3.84 million chips, creating a pot of 10 million chips. Riordan's was in the lead, but Morton's had plenty of outs to end the tournament right there. Much to Riordan’s delight, the river missed his opponent, and he laid claim to the biggest pot of the tournament. Riordan clinched victory on the next hand.
Since his big score, Riordan has notched three other cashes. He took sixth in a $550 No-Limit Hold’em event at the Florida Million III at Orange Park for $22,000; third in the $2,500 2012 Isle Classics Main Event at Pompano Beach for $43,207; and 34th in the this year’s WSOP Circuit Palm Beach Kennel Club Main for $4,573. That last score may not have been life-changing, but it was impressive considering it was just 33 spots away from a title defense in a 778-player field.
Riordan, who studied at the University of Florida, may be young, but that doesn't mean he’s not talented. Since he was 19, Riordan has played in some of the biggest pot-limit Omaha cash games in Florida, sometimes as big as $200/400 with a $40,000 buy-in.
The WSOP will be a new experience for the rookie, but we’re confident he’ll fare well. Our guess is he’ll be making some noise in no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha events throughout the summer.