Day One of the 2015 November Nine WSOP final table has concluded. The Sunday evening nearly live telecast saw the rich get richer and the poor go completely broke.
Joe McKeehen started the session with more than 61,000,000 chips, nearly 40,000,000 more than any of his competitors. He ended the night in even better shape.
Sunday night was all about McKeehen. He started off the day passive, which came as a surprise to many, considering his normal style of play and commanding chip lead.
But once he found his groove, McKeehen became an unstoppable force.
Three players busted on Day One, all of them McKeehen’s victims. Federico Butteroni, Pierre Neuville, and Patrick Chan all hoped to double up against the chip leader, but were sent packing.
McKeehen’s play impressed poker pros Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, and Antonio Esfandiari.
“He’s running good, he’s playing good,” Esfandiari said of McKeehen during the ESPN live telecast.
While McKeehen was busy building his stack, 72-year old Pierre Neuville of Belgium was busy folding hand after hand. Despite entering the day third in chips, Neuville refrained from being aggressive.
Early on in the session, Neuville folded pocket tens to Neil Blumenfield’s three-bet. Turned out that Blumenfield had pocket aces but, in position, it was an interesting lay down by Neuville.
Esfandiari was quite surprised at his decision to fold the tens. Perhaps it was Neuville making a good read, but his play throughout the day suggested he just didn’t want to get involved in big pots without the absolute nuts.
Folding tens in that spot wasn’t his strangest play, though. With eight players remaining, Federico Butteroni shoved with barely six big blinds remaining in the small blind with Q♣9♣. Neuville picked up a suited A-7 and had a huge chip lead over Butteroni.
Facing a chance to bust a player with a decent hand in a blind-versus-blind situation, Neuville made the unconventional decision to fold. That play sums up Neuville’s performance on Sunday. Not surprisingly, he didn’t make it to Day Two, busting in 7th.
After discovering many of his opponents were clearly just looking to move up the pay slots, Joe McKeehen began taking advantage of them like a pimp in a room full of desperate women.
McKeehen stayed low-key early on, and wasn’t picking up many decent hands. But then he turned on the jets and made his opponents pay for their weak and passive play.
The 24-year old poker pro finished the session with 91,450,000 in chips. Israeli Ofer Zvi Stern sits in second place with 32,400,000 going into Day Two. Thomas Cannuli is the short stack with 10,425,000.
Anything can happen in poker, but if McKeehen avoids crushing coolers and bad beats, he’s going to be difficult to overtake during the remaining two days. He’s the chip leader after 6,113 players have been eliminated. If he can hold on for six more busts, the $7.6 million and gold bracelet will be his.