More than three years after he won the granddaddy of 'em all, Ryan Riess finds himself five players away from finally adding another major title to his trophy case.
The 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champ has reached the official final table of the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock $10,000 Poker Finale, the final open event of the season.
Riess sits in second place, but the competition will be quite stiff, including Jason Koon, 2016 November Niner and online legend Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy and Alan Sternberg, a former WPT champ with a sizable chip lead. Here's a look at the stack and seating situation:
Official Final Table
With 349 total runners in the event, 44 would be paid out. Mike Sexton, Paul Volpe, Stephen Chidwick and Keven Stammen were among those narrowly missing out on the money bubble, which burst late on Day 2 of the event, according to the live updates.
Riess moved into the lead on Day 2 after eliminating Stammen in a big race, but Sternberg took over the top spot with 31 players left. He and Jonathan Little got into a raising war preflop at 4,000/8,000/1,000 that ended with Little all in for 630,000. He had the best of it with against Sternberg's . An ace on the flop changed that, giving Sternberg nearly 200 big blinds.
Sam Panzica, Dietrich Fast, Charlie Carrel, and WPT commentator Tony Dunst were among those joining Little in the payout line on Day 2.
One of the storylines to watch on Day 3 wrapped up early on, as WPT Player of the Year had come down to Pat Lyons trying to catch Ben Zamani. The boisterous Lyons, known to be plenty willing to get his money in the middle, opted to three-bet shove for 60 big blinds over a Riess open. Unfortunately for Lyons, Riess held aces and held up without improvement against pocket fours, meaning Zamani cinched the POY title.
Other Day 3 eliminations leading to the final table included Anthony Spinella, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Jason Wheeler and Jake Cody.
It took 28 hands for the first elimination, when Ken Einiger fell at the hands of Josephy in a race.
Marvin Rettenmaier lost with queens to ace-jack for most of his stack, and Sternberg finished him off to bust him in ninth.
A key pot for Sternberg developed when he raised and got two callers, and flopped. Josephy check-called a bet on the flop and then a much bigger one on the turn. He check-called a final barrel on the river, and Sternberg flipped over a set of eights to take the pot and wrest the lead from Riess.
Jonathan Jaffe then tried four-bet, shipping on a Sternberg three-bet for just over 20 big blinds, but got caught holding against . The board ran out , enabling Sternberg to fade a straight draw and some chop outs to send Jaffe out in eighth.
On Hand #83, Josephy raised and then called a shove from Josh Kay for just over nine big blinds.
Kay needed help, but it wasn't to be as neither player hit anything on the community cards, keeping the queens best.
With that, the players bagged up, and they'll have Wednesday off before playing out the final table on Thursday. They'll be battling for $716,088, and the poker world will be watching to see if Riess can secure his second major title.
Photo courtesy of WPT
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