If you compete in any of the major tournament series between Regina and Vancouver, there is a good chance that you have mixed it up with Edmonton Alberta player Ryan Comely. Already sporting “Tournament Champion’s Rings” on half of his available fingers and ordinarily found with a mound of chips in front of him, Comely is a difficult player not to take notice of…
Ryan has claimed more than $285,000 in confirmed live tournament winnings since 2009, winning events in 4 cities on Canada’s “poker circuit”. The bulk of Ryan’s total has been racked up in Western Canada; where event buy-ins typically range from $300-$1500 and top prizes usually averaging $30,000-$60,000, and rarely exceeding $100,000.
Prior to “breaking out” on the live felts, Christopher Ryan Comely, as he is also known as, started playing online poker around the onset of 2005. “My roommate was really into online gaming and I started goofing around in the cash games. I probably lost about $10,000 before I figured out tournaments were more my niche” recalled Ryan.
It turned out that Comely really did have a certain “instinct” for the game and by 2006, he was at the top of the right PokerStars online tournament leader boards. He ended up with a shot to prove that it was more than luck, finding himself as one of 5 players representing “Team Canada” at the PokerStars World Cup in 2006.
Well known PokerStars pro Isabelle Mercier was also on the team that headed to Barcelona to play the televised Heads-Up format competition. 46 teams from 39 countries competed online for the chance to go to Spain, but only the final 8 countries were selected to make the trip. Comely faced tough opponents like Tom McEvoy along the way and was selected for the final team of 3 by Team Captain Aaron Haw. In the end, they finished 3rd, earning $6,000 each, while Aaron and Ryan became friends. Since, Ryan has amassed about $212,000 in tournament winnings online, though he sticks mostly to live poker these days.
“Aaron was also from Edmonton, so after meeting in Barcelona, we began to hit some of the Canadian circuit stops and the rest is pretty much history”, explained Ryan, when asked about his transition to brick and mortar poker.
While Comely’s combined career total winnings of about $500,000 may not appear massive to some of those who follow the top international players today, to put it into perspective, it’s almost enough to put Ryan into the Top 100 on the All Time Canadian Tournament Player Money List, which includes all the major stops around the world.
“I didn’t realize that I am that close” said Ryan when we asked him about this statistic, “but now that I know, I will definitely be shooting to get in there.”
For his performance over 2009, Comely was recognized as “Player of The Year” here in Canada, for leading in eligible tournament leader board points. Ryan won the November British Columbia Poker Championships (BCPC), $1,000 event, taking home 1st place and over $130,000 in the 640 player tournament. His largest pay-day to date came on the heels of winning a $500 event at the May 2009 Canadian Open Poker Championships for $20,000 and winning the $1,000 Station Poker Classic for over $50,000 more. Ryan also had a 4th place finish at the Canadian Poker Championships in Edmonton during the same year; proving a consistency at the poker tables few can honestly claim to match.
Even those battling in the same events and chasing Comely on the leader boards are quick to give credit it where it is due; “Ryan is a beast! Arguably the best tournament player in Alberta”, said Joel Bullock, a frequent opponent with his own top results.
So far in 2011, Ryan has already won the late August $300 Event #1 at the 9th Annual Edmonton Poker Classic, which had a starting field of 147 players and paid $12,200 for first, in addition to cashing in the $1,000 event. Back in March, Comely also took down the $700 buy-in at Casino Regina’s Station Classic, worth over $31,000 and was his second ring from the popular semi-annual Saskatchewan stop. In January, it was an Edmonton $300 again, where he took 2nd for $7,350.
Entering September, Comely once again leads the Canadian “Player of The Year” points race; without even including his latest Edmonton win and 7th place finish in the $500 Pot Limit Omaha at the 2011 COPC.
“Recognition is always nice and there is something to be said about the feeling of adding a trophy to the mantle” described Comely, when asked about his growing collection of poker “hardware”.
Over 2010, besides a few smaller cashes, Ryan also final tabled a $1,000 Caesars Las Vegas Event, which was good for better than $26,000.
As far as what and where to expect Ryan to look for his next “prize”, Comely commented; “ I am pretty sure I will be playing Edgewater Casino’s West Coast Poker Championship, which I look forward to trying out. Then BCPC, where I will play all the events. I really like that they don’t over-exhaust players; you play a set amount of levels everyday, the events don’t overlap and everything is perfect starting stack and structure wise. Then Regina, which is also one of my favorites, they have blind levels added that other events skip; honestly there are a few that only they do. With no antes, you can play a bit shorter as well, so it isn’t over until it’s over. I also like the noon start and that they get things going on time; no exceptions.”
As for which new title he has his eye most on next; “One from BCPC for sure! I had the one Regina win, then missed their next tournaments, but won another when I went back for the following series. I missed last year’s BCPCs, so I am hoping the pattern holds true here.”
So just what makes Ryan so deadly on the felts?
Ryan speculated; “I think playing online at the start helped me to recognize betting habits, since that’s all you really see. Live, I trust my reads and believe on and off the felts I have always been a really good judge of character. Put all together, it seems to lead to some pretty good decisions.”
Canada Poker will be following the results of three upcoming Western Canadian Events, so we’ll keep you posted on Ryan’s next big score. Good Luck to him on the felts and a big thanks for taking the time for his exclusive interview.