WPT World Championship Seat A Dream Come True for ClubWPT Lifer

WPT World Championship Seat A Dream Come True for ClubWPT Lifer

Thousands of poker players from around the world will take their shot at a piece of a $40 million guaranteed prize pool this December in the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas. The field will be littered with seasoned pros, hopeful amateurs and everyone in between, each looking to end 2023 on a life-changing note.

Putting up the full $10,400 buy-in isnt the only way in, though. Qualifiers from WPT partners across different venues and platforms have already punched their tickets to Las Vegas for this historic event. One group, in particular, to keep an eye on is a group of 11 players (and counting) that have spun up a $12,500 WPT Passport simply by playing on ClubWPT, the offiial subscription online poker game of the World Poker Tour.

In late July, John Riesterer of Pulaski, Wisconsin aka Johnnyhaha added his name to that list by winning a WPT Passport of his own. It had been over a decade in the making for Riesterer, who first joined the ClubWPT platform in 2011 when he was looking for a way to play poker online in the United States after Black Friday.

Riesterers path to a potentially life-changing shot at the WPT World Championship was not easy by any means. The 73-year-old Air Force veteran and retired Real Estate Broker had to play his way through two levels of tournaments to get there.

That was a blast, of course, Riesterer said of his WPT Passport victory. In order to win, it went in stages. You had to place top 20 or, in two of the qualifiers, top 50 to get into that top-level tournament.

Once he played himself into the final for July, there was just one more hurdle standing in Riesterers way a 400-player, winner-take-all tournament with the $12,500 WPT Passport awaiting the champion. As the tournament got down to the end, with the action being live-streamed on Twitch by Brad Braulio, Riesterer brought it home for the win.

The whole thing just went really, really well right up to the very end, Riesterer said. I got good cards and they held, finally.

While its far and away the biggest prize Riesterer has claimed in his time playing on ClubWPT, hes been a winner for a long time on the platform. In fact, the signature item in Riesterers poker-centric man cave is another mark of his success on ClubWPT.

Going back a few years, Dan Ross from Hold’em Radio used to stream the main tournament on Sunday afternoons, Riesterer said. I came across that at one point in time, and he had a regular community of players – quite a few of them are still playing [on ClubWPT] to this day. He held tournaments as well, and every year there was a Tournament of Champions, TOC he called it, and three years in a row, I won that, so I won my poker table by playing with that group back then.

While participation in that group waned over the next few years, Riesterer became connected with an even larger ClubWPT community in 2020 when, like a lot of players, the only way to play poker was online.

When COVID hit, they started doing the streams Lynn Gilmartin, Vince Van Patten, Tony Dunst, and Matt Savage, they were all starting to stream, said Riesterer. Well, I started watching that. And then they started a Twitch Stream Team group, which I became part of. It’s been quite the experience, and it’s a fun group.

The ClubWPT Stream Team, which stays connected through Discord and a variety of weekly streams, has remained a part of Riesterers poker routine over the last few years. With other ClubWPT qualifiers along for the ride for the WPT World Championship, December will also be an opportunity for members of the Stream Team community to connect in person, like they did in 2022.

There’s going to be all of these other Stream Teamers who are going to be out there, and hopefully, Jeremy Clemons will get a Stream Team tournament put together like he did last year.

For some players, the transition from playing poker online to live could be overwhelming. And while a $10,000+ buy-in is a big step up, Riesterer has enough live poker experience that sitting down at Wynn Las Vegas in December shouldnt be too overwhelming.

I used to play live at our local casino up until COVID, said Riesterer. I played in their tournaments when they held them. [In 2017], I did play in an MSPT event there, and took 23rd. I also MSPT back in March of this year, but let’s not talk about that one.

As far as larger fields go, Riesterer has some experience on that front as well. He played in the 2015 World Series of Poker $565 Colossus event, which drew a then-record 22,374 entries. Riesterers expectations for December in terms of field size and quality is that there will be quite a challenge in front of him.

Of course, there’ll be a lot of well-known players that are going to show up with a $40 million guarantee, said Riesterer. I expect to see a minimum of 4,000 players, probably closer to 5 or 6,000.

As a part of his $12,500 package, Riesterer will stay on property at Wynn Las Vegas. Hes planning on taking full advantage of the trip to Las Vegas, with both of Riesterers sons joining him on the adventure.

There’s going to be more than just the big tournament out there, said Riesterer. I asked my wife if she wanted to go along with me, and she hates flying. so she declined. Then I asked my son, who lives here in Wisconsin, and he accepted. We’re going to fly out on the seventh of December and play the $500 buy-in ClubWPT event.

The event in question, a $50,000 guaranteed tournament on December 7, is an open event in which any ClubWPT member who makes the final table be it a Free, VIP or Diamond-level player will result in an additional WPT Prime Championship seat being added to the prize pool.

Were gonna give that a shot. My one son is joining me from the 7th to the 14th, and then my other son, who lives in Colorado, is flying in and staying from the 8th through the 11th. We’re really looking forward to it, we don’t get together too often and so this is going to be quite the experience in itself, the three of us.

When the cards go into the air for the WPT World Championship, Riesterer will get the same starting stack as every other player in the field. A lot of recreational poker players will never have the kind of opportunity that Riesterer has earned himself, and that has certainly not been lost on him.

Its going to be the thrill of a lifetime, said Riesterer. I never would have done this without having won this opportunity. I can’t wait for it to happen.

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