Joe McKeehen combined enormous talent with extraordinary good luck to take down the 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event on Tues night after three days of play against his fellow November Niners. And he continued what had been an incredible run of near-godlike good fortune with an almost perfect read in play after play for all three days.
The first two days at the WSOP November Nine final table had the same theme: Joe McKeehen had a massive stack and dominated the table.
Day Three, the finale, wasn’t any different. McKeehen busted the four players between Sunday and Monday. He then ousted his final two competitors on Tuesday.
The first victim was Neil Blumenfield, the oldest remaining player in the Main Event. At 61 years old, Blumenfield added some personality to what was an otherwise fairly subdued final table.
He quickly became a crowd favorite (and was personally iconized by ESPN commentator Norm Chad, who dopplegangered Blumenfield’s outfits) and should be commended for his impressive run. But he simply was no match for McKeehen at the end of the day.
Down to a mere dozen bigs, Blumenfield was looking for any decent hand to shove tonight. He found that in pocket deuces. Unfortunately for the fedora-wearing amateur, McKeehen was dealt pocket queens, one of many premium hands he received on this day.
With 26,400,000 chips in the pot, the board ran out 7♥4♣10♥4♠K♠. Blumenfield was out in third place, picking up $3,398,298 and earning the respect of the poker community.
Following Blumenfield’s bust out, the tournament was down to its final two competitors: Josh Beckley and McKeehen.
More than $3.3 million would separate first place and second place ($7,683,346 vs. $4,470,896), but more than just money was on the line. The coveted WSOP gold bracelet (this year said to be valued at $250K) and being crowned a world champion carry their own intrinsic value above and beyond the massive stacks of cash laid out on the heads up table.
Beckley, refusing to just hand McKeehen the title, attempted a few bluffs, but there was no stopping the champion-to-be. He caught cards like a master magician, while Beckley couldn’t even catch a cold.
In any poker tournament, the winner typically runs well in races. This tournament, the biggest tournament in the world, ended with McKeehen winning a race.
About the Champion
Joe McKeehen is a 24-year old from Pennsylvania. The WSOP 2015 Main Event wasn’t his first rodeo. McKeehen has been playing cards since he was 18, and had won more than $2 million in live tournaments prior to the Main Event.
He becomes just the second player in November Nine history (Jonathan Duhamel in 2010) to come to the final table with the chip lead and leave with the bracelet.
McKeehen is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. On Sunday, he dawned an Eagles jersey and cheered when he heard his team won earlier that evening. Tuesday night, McKeehen sported a 76ers jersey, which is quite bold considering that it’s a struggling pro sports franchise.
Loyalty to his sports teams is clearly the way Joe McKeehen rolls. Now, he also rolls with the WSOP Main Event gold bracelet and boat loads of cash.