Two days into the WSOP November Nine final table and one thing is certain: Joe McKeehen is the main attraction.
That’s not to say the other players at the table aren’t worth recognition, but it’s clear McKeehen has outplayed his opponents the past two days.
Day One was all about Joe, as was Day Two. McKeehen has been responsible for four of the six eliminations. He busted Max Steinberg on Monday night to end the somewhat dull session.
For Steinberg, it was a disappointing finish, but a phenomenal run for a guy that quit poker last year to pursue a career in daily fantasy sports.
Steinberg’s 4th place payday was good for $2,615,361. Following his bust out, he debonair player hinted at returning to the poker world now that he has a larger bankroll.
Also eliminated on Monday were Tom Cannuli (6th place), and Ofer Zvi Stern (5th place). Cannuli was the recipient of the sickest bad beat at the final table.
Struggling to make a push at the chip leaders and desperate for a double up, Cannuli appeared to have found the prime opportunity. He opened with A♠A♣ on the second hand of the session. Things got better for him when Steinberg shoved out of the big blind with 10♥10♦. Cannuli quickly glanced back at his cards to make sure he had pocket aces and then made the call.
With 21,000,000 in the pot, Cannuli was in great shape to get back in the game. Unfortunately, for the youngest player at the table, the 10♠ hit the flop, giving Steinberg a set, and he was unable to catch up.
It was the second straight day a player busted on the second hand. Patrick Chan was eliminated in 9th place on Sunday evening in the same situation.
Poker school was in session at the Rio in Las Vegas on Monday night. Joe McKeehen was the instructor. The class: Big Stack 101.
McKeehen used his massive chip lead to his advantage over and over again. He continually raised pre-flop with virtually any two cards.
His opponents rarely played back at him and didn’t defend their blinds often, either. Prior to Ofer Zvi Stern’s elimination, McKeehen faced a blind defender. Once he was gone, McKeehen was able to steal the blinds often.
Post-flop, McKeehen simply outplayed his opponents. He wasn’t afraid to call with marginal hands pre-flop, knowing he makes better decisions on the flop than his competitors. Of course, McKeehen also hit his share of flops.
The 2015 WSOP Main Event will conclude on Tuesday night, with coverage on ESPN starting at 6:30 Pacific Time, with the 30-minute delay of live play that kicks off at 6. Joe McKeehen, Josh Beckley, and Neil Blumenfield will return to the Rio to finish this thing off.
McKeehen has been the main story the first two days of the final table and will enter tomorrow with a commanding chip lead. But it will be up to Blumenfield or Beckley or both to put on their big boy pants and start playing back at McKeehen.
If the two short stacks are going to prevent the favorite from winning the gold bracelet, they will need to catch some cards and force the action.
Unless that happens, 2014 winner Martin Jacobson will be passing the torch over to Joe McKeehen.