Poker pro applies winning secret to stock picking

Stock-picking poker player

Top poker play Ryan Riess seems to "know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em."

About a year ago, Riess won the main event at the World Series of Poker and took home a $8.4 million jackpot.

Ryan Riess, 23, a poker professional from East Lansing, Mich, poses with stacks of money after winning the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'Em tournament at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada November 5, 2013.
Steve Marcus | Reuters

Although many people would take the money and run, seeking an even bigger payday, Reiss let some of it ride. The poker champ took his winnings after taxes and expenses, about $2 million, and put it back on the table; although rather than betting on a straight or flush, this time he bet on stocks.

On CNBC's Street Signs Thursday he revealed his four biggest holdings were Apple, Disney, Facebook and Union Pacific, which Riess called "the best railroad in the country."

Riess added the secret to his success in poker was patience, explaining that too many people fold at the first sign of distress "Be patient.

That poker secret is something Riess also applies in his portfolio picks. "I try not to panic and sell," he said. "I try to buy stocks when they're declining."

Read More Tech fund manager's top 3 stock picks

Keeping with that poker—slash—stock theory of winning, Riess said he was currently looking at cruise ship stocks and airlines that have sold off due to Ebola fears. "If we get it under control, they should rebound."

CNBC's Jim Cramer has been saying for quite some time, that may be a pretty good bet.