EPT Prague: The continuing life of Riley

There's a definite opportunity these days for an entrepreneurial publisher to commission a travel book centred on poker. It would feature details of the best tournaments around the world, with all the vital information concerning structures, buy-ins and side action. But the book would also include an in depth guide to the host city, giving the tournament player all the information they could want for where to spend either their days off or their winnings; maybe even some ideas for travel companions to idle away the time as the poker action progresses.

"We loved going under the powder tower, and to that beautiful square. And the Charles Bridge. And the food here is great. We ate around the square a couple of times."

That was John Riley, the PokerStars qualifier from Carlsbad, New Mexico, who is playing in his first European Poker Tour event and has been accompanied to the majestic Czech capital by his wife Leslie. They perhaps haven't had as much a chance to explore the city as they would have liked, owing to the fact that John is still going strong as play begins on day three. Any sightseeing the couple may have managed was crammed between John's charge into the money.

But it might not have been that way. We described yesterday how Riley went from only 10,900 in chips at the start of day two, to 125,000-odd in a spectacular four-hand charge. I heard the story from the horse's mouth this morning: at one point Riley was all in with A-K against Juha Helppi's J-J. The flop had another jack on it, and "I went ahead and got up," John said. But by the turn, there was also a gutshot-straight possibility and although John was mentally preparing for an expedition through Prague's old town, "My wife looked at me and said 'queen'. And then the dealer did one of those slow turn-overs of the last card, and there it was: the queen."

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John Riley

Riley progressed to a peak yesterday of around 180,000, but chipped back down to about 120,000 by day's end. It's still enough to make another move on day three. "I've got to be aggressive," he said. "I'm kind of on autopilot."

Autopilot is probably the right word for a man who describes playing "eight, nine or ten" multi-table tournaments as "grinding". Playing as "johnfr", Riley is an online professional player, having completed his masters in electrical engineering, but opting to apply those skills around the poker tables. He played the World Series main event in 2007, and is working on qualifying for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January of next year. He booked his seat to Prague in a $22 rebuy turbo satellite, outlasting a 100-strong field to claim the only seat.

And after his success here - both on the tables and as a tourist around the town - we're expecting to see a lot more of Mr and Mrs Riley through the coming few seasons.

Here's how John shared his thoughts with the video blog team this morning:

Watch EPT Prague S5: Interview with John Riley Day 3 on PokerStars.tv

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour