For a lot of poker players, getting to the final ten of the World Series of Poker Main Event along with one their good friends sounds like a dream scenario. The two of, on the verge of winning a million dollars and maybe more, along with the chance of winning the whole thing.
For Michael Ruane, that dream scenario turned nightmarish this past July when he found himself in a hand with his good friend Bryan Piccioli on the final table bubble. Piccioli was the one that was all in, but the result of the hand all but guaranteed one of the two good friends would eventually become the 10th place finisher. That was Ruane’s fate as Piccioli, holding , called for his tournament life after Ruane, holding , had moved all in. The board brought no help for Ruane and a few minutes later he was eliminated in 10th place.
“It was the worst. If somebody’s going to win I’d rather have it be him. It was just a terrible situation because getting to the final table together with a very good friend of mine would have been awesome,” said Ruane. “All of our mutual friends were on the rail and nobody knew who to root for. It was silent. It was awful.”
The cliche says that the day a poker player busts out of the Main Event is their worst day of the year. Ruane got to live that moment, in an extremely important spot, live on ESPN for all the world to see. As the cards were turned over and the board ran out, Ruane looked upset and some mistook that as something directed towards Piccioli. Ruane insists that’s not the case.
“I was immediately obviously pretty angry, just because I wanted to make the final table, but I handled it a lot better than I thought I would. It just took me an hour or two to decompress, said Ruane. “I called my brother, Sean, and we talked on the phone for a bit. I actually didn’t even realize there was a pay jump between 10th and 11th.”
Even though the two are good friends, and saw each other later that night, the big hand wasn’t brought up. Five months after that fateful day, Ruane says that he and Piccioli have yet to discuss it at all.
“We saw each other that night actually, and I congratulated him and I was happy for him. There’s nothing really to talk about. It’s just a shitty situation, I think we both just understood that. It’s just poker. It’s all good,” said Ruane.
The WPT Five Diamond, where he’s starting Day 3 with a decent stack, is just the third live tournament Ruane has played since July. As long as he avoids a monumental misstep early on Friday, he’s going to record his first cash since then. He had no cashes between his fourth-place finish in the 2016 WSOP Main Event and the 10th place finish last summer either.
“I’m really pumped for this tournament because I haven’t played in a while. I don’t really like traveling and playing live – I like playing live a lot, but only when I want to. So I don’t want to just go and play,” a aid Ruane, who plans on spending the holidays with friends and family before heading off to Australia and Asia for prolonged vacation.
“I was in Europe before the World Series and I’ve been to South America, so it’s kind of the next place I haven’t been yet and I feel like it’s a pretty good time to go in my life right now,” said Ruane. “Plus, I’ve never played the Aussie Millions. I’ve got a friend that lives there and a friend in China, so it just makes sense for me to this right now.”