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WSOP: Riess aims to continue redemption tour

One of the most anticipated events on the World Series of Poker schedule did not disappoint, as Event #15: $10,000 NLHE Heads-Up Championship created several must-see matchups.

The tournament attracted 129 players, and after Canadian bracelet winner Mark Radoja defeated Kyle Bowker in the “play-in” match, a 128-entry bracket was set.

Per the live update reporting provided by PokerNews, the list of top pros to bow out on Day 1 included recent One Drop winner and high-roller specialist Doug Polk, two-time final tablist this summer Daniel Negreanu, and defending champion Alan Percal.

The field was whittled to 32 ahead of Thursday’s pivotal Day 2, which featured a collection of compelling matches for poker fans to sweat.

Three former WSOP Main Event champions entered the day with a chance to add another bracelet to their trophy case, but 2009 winner Joe Cada was cut down by Chris Moore.

Joe McKeehen, the 2015 world champ, managed to outlast Michael Addamo, but his run was ended by Ryan Fee.

As for 2013 Main Event winner Ryan Riess, he carved through a trio of respected pros in Kane Kalas, Dan Smith, and Olivier Busquet to stamp his ticket to the semifinal round.

For Riess – who infamously proclaimed himself the best player in the world after his 2013 breakthrough, only to put up middling results over the next few years – the performance continues 2017’s road to redemption. In April, he took down a WPT Main Event for $716K, by far his biggest cash since winning poker’s top tournament.

The list of Main Event winners who failed to bag a second bracelet is a long one, but Riess can remove himself with just two more heads-up victories.

To do so, he’ll need to do what few players have over the last two years – outmaneuver a 70-year-old Purple Heart recipient-turned-heads-up wrecking ball.

John Smith has been playing poker for more than 50 years, but he’s only recently become a force to reckon with at the WSOP Heads-Up Championship. Riding an 11-1 heads-up run, Smith was the runner-up here last year, and he cashed back in 2014. But after sending Chance Kornuth, Russell Thomas and Jack Duong home yesterday, Smith has his sights set squarely on the bracelet.

With the eventual champion set to earn $336,656 on Friday, the other side of the bracket features Adrian Mateos against Charlie Carrel.

See poker reviews and WSOP qualifier specials here. 

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