It’s a scenario every poker player dreams of being in – deep into Day 6 of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event, with one of the biggest stacks in the field. The prospect of a final table is starting to come into reach, the possibility of winning $12.1 million is growing with each elimination and the CBS Sports and PokerGO cameras are rolling – capturing every moment in a way where you can relive what’s likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Most players in the spot might worry about having an unusual haircut in that footage, which will live on in perpetuity. But Ryan Tamanini isn’t most people.
“You mean in regard to my haircut?” Tamanini asked. “Oh, no, I don’t care at all. I think it’s hilarious.”
The haircut in question – a circular pattern than encircles Tamanini’s head around his hairline and through his beard – has been a topic of conversation since it popped up on Day 1D of the WSOP Main Event. For the first few days of the tournament, with the exception of a few brief shots, Tamanini wore a hat to cover it up.
But once he reached the end of Day 5, Tamanini decided it was time to let the circle beard fly.
What on earth would possibly push someone to cut their hair and beard in such a way? How about a free shot at the biggest poker tournament in history?
“In one of my Telegram group chats, it kind of came up as a joke,” said Tamanini. “And then I agreed to do it. I’m getting a 100% freeroll for the Main Event, and I get to keep 50% of my action. It’s funny, and it’s a good deal for me.”
Believe it or not, this isn’t even the first time Tamanini has cut his hair in this pattern. The idea first popped up ahead of the 2022 WSOP Main Event.
“I did it last year and didn’t cash,” said Tamanini. “Then we just ran it back this year.”
Tamanini started Day 6 in the middle of the pack – 41st out of 149 players. But over the first three levels of the day he’s shot towards the top, sitting in second by the time the final 78 players went to dinner break. He’s guaranteed a six-figure payday, eclipsing Tamanini’s previous career-best of $64,032, which he earned by winning a $300 buy-in side event during the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open series in January 2020.
More recently, Tamanini has largely taken advantage of being able to play online poker in his hometown of Hannover, Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been mostly playing online,” said Tamanini. “I live in Pennsylvania, so we have regulated online poker there. Other than that, mostly cash games, even though I haven’t been playing that much. We have a lot of casinos – Maryland Live, Parx, Atlantic City – that aren’t too far for me. Whenever they have an event, I’ll usually go. But other than that, I don’t really leave the house too much.”
Regardless of how he’s cut his hair, Tamanini is a real threat to make a charge towards a life-changing amount of money. While Tamanini’s friend Jason Mo is already thinking about putting together even more circlebeard freerolls for 2024, the look hasn’t phased Tamanini in the slightest.
Ultimately, he’s just hoping for what the other 70 players still in the mix in this tournament are – to win the WSOP Main Event.
“This is what dreams are made of,” Tamanini said. “I can’t ask for anything more, really.”