Everyone loves a good success story, but regardless of what the story entails, all success stories have one thing in common: passion. And that’s exactly what Ryan Riske relied on the most to get to the top of his poker career. With a love for competition throughout his entire life, Riske always pushed himself to the limits to gain an edge over his opponents. When family board game nights came about, he was usually the one to turn innocent family gatherings into heated debates, eventually earning the nickname “Board Game Grinch”.

Ryan Riske and Girlfriend in Mexico [Photo: FullTilt]

But as the years passed, Riske began to realize that board games were starting to seem a little less rewarding than they used to be. Thus, his passion for competition eventually drew him to another platform where he could gain more than just a few plastic tokens and bragging rights: poker. At first, he took his card-playing skills to small local home games that he played with his friends, where he learned to apply his skills of observation and competitiveness to a game that would ultimately make a great poker story.

After playing several home-based poker games, winning a few “tournaments” here and there, Riske decided that it was time to take what he had learned to an online poker platform and deposited some of what he had previously earned from local games with friends, which according to Riske himself, was probably easier than finally deciding on what his account name would be (he eventually went with “Riske88”). Once he settled on a name, he was soon in a Sit’N’Go game putting his skills to the test.

Following three months of this, steadily grinding his way to earn a more significant bankroll, Riske began to feel that he could be earning more if he moved to another table with higher stakes — and that’s exactly what he did. Taking his skills and larger bankroll, Riske88 moved on from Sit’N’Go games to No-Limit Texas Hold’em games, but it didn’t take long for the hotshot player to realize that this move was a little too premature. Though his poker skills had significantly improved beyond playing local home-based games, his confidence began to dwindle as he noticed his loose and reckless strategy didn’t quite mesh well with this advanced game. It was then he realized he needed to change his strategy in order to regain the competitive edge he once had. It was time to go back to the basics.

Ryan Riske and Girlfriend during Christmas [Photo: FullTilt]

Over the course of the next month, Riske spent this time trying to absorb as much knowledge about No-Limit Hold’em as much as he could, everything from reading articles and books, to watching videos and testing various scenarios that could happen during a game. Then, after successfully passing a poker quiz he had discovered during his studying, it was time to take what he had learned (again) back to the online tables, making sure to take a completely different approach than what he had before.

Paying close attention to his opponents, applying pressure to them when they looked weak and falling back when they looked strong, Riske’s confidence in his poker playing skills started to grow along with his rising bankroll. By making smart decisions during every hand, he was then able to set higher goals for himself, playing in games with higher stakes when he was positive he was prepared not only financially, but mentally as well.

From board games with family and friends to No-Limit Hold’em, Riske had grown to become a very successful online poker player, coming a long way from plastic tokens and paper money. And as a university student, playing poker not only helped him make some steady income, it’s also given him the opportunity to live a unique lifestyle that gives him the time to excel in other aspects of his life. Using his winnings to mostly treat himself, such as buying gaming consoles and traveling the world with his girlfriend, Riske still has the time to work a full-time job and is even considering going back to school to earn his MBA.

Ryan Riske’s story just goes to prove that hard work and perseverance can pay off in the long run (no pun intended). And if you have passion in what you do, good things are bound to happen!