Joe McKeehen fulfilled his poker destiny last night, dispatching Neil Blumenfield and Josh Beckley easily on his way to capturing the 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Championship. For his efforts, he won the largest bracelet poker has ever seen (it is a case for the two winning cards, for crying out loud) and $7,683,346.
It was a no-brainer going into three-handed play on Tuesday that the 25-year old McKeehen would be the one with all the chips at the end of night, as he had almost all the chips at the beginning of the night. I mean, look at this:
1. Joe McKeehen – 128,825,000
2. Neil Blumenfield – 40,125,000
3. Josh Beckley – 23,700,000
McKeehen had double what the other two men had combined. That’s just gross. On top of that, he is a very good player, so barring some incredible Aces versus Kings action, it was highly unlikely either Blumenfield or Beckley was going to be able to make a big enough run to truly get back into contention.
The eventual champ did benefit from not only being dealt good starting hands, but also from hitting the flop time after time, but even still, he played as perfectly as one can play. He did not get over anxious; he was content to play small pots and just chip away at the other stacks. It is easy for a big stack to try to “over-bully” and just shove, shove, shove, as a way to steal the small stacks’ blinds and raises. McKeehen knew, though, that just making normal raises was just as threatening as a shove, as the big blind was a million to start play on Tuesday, and even a min-raise was a decent portion of Blumenfield’s and Beckley’s stacks. Constantly forcing the action by shoving would have meant risking doubling-up one of his opponents. McKeehen preferred death by a thousand cuts.
Neither Blumenfield nor Beckley could afford a slip-up and it was the 61-year old amateur Blumenfield who made the lone real mistake of Tuesday (and it wasn’t even so much a mistake as it was an unfortunate situation). In the hand that began his descent, Blumenfield raised pre-flop to 3 million chips holding Q♥-8♦. Beckley got out of the way and McKeehen made the easy call with K♣-T♠. The flop hit McKeehen and missed Blumenfield: T♦-6♣-3♣. McKeehen knew Blumenfield would make a continuation bet, so he checked-called a 2.2 million bet. The 7♦ was dealt on the turn and again, McKeehen check-called a 3.5 million chip bet. Blumenfield was in a tough spot. He couldn’t afford to give up on the pot, but he couldn’t afford to keep putting more chips in, even though betting was the only way he was going to win. When he whiffed again with the 5♣ on the river, Blumenfield bet 7 million. McKeehen actually thought about it for a while, trying to get a read on his opponent. Finally, he told Blumenfield that he didn’t think he hit the flush, so he made the call. Blumenfield knew his Queen-high was no good and mucked as soon as he saw McKeehen’s cards.
That sent Blumenfield down to fewer than 20 million chips and that was basically it for him. A while later, he ended up all-in pre-flop was Deuces, called by McKeehen and Queens. The Queens remained the best hand and Blumenfield was out in third place.
That left Josh Beckley as the only person standing between McKeehen and the title. And with just 37 million chips to McKeehen’s 155.65 million, he wasn’t much of an obstacle. He had one hand during heads-up in which he made a good play and picked up a decent number of chips, but that was it. It took just a baker’s dozen worth of hands for McKeehen to defeat Beckley. The final hand was largely academic: Beckley shoved pre-flop with Fours, McKeehen called him with A-T, hit a Ten on the flop, and that was that.
Congratulations to Joe McKeehen, the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion!
2015 World Series of Poker Main Event – Final Table Results
1. Joe McKeehen – $7,683,346
2. Josh Beckley – $4,470,896
3. Neil Blumenfield – $3,398,298
4. Max Steinberg – $2,615,361
5. Zvi Stern – $1,911,423
6. Tom Cannuli – $1,426,283
7. Pierre Neuville – $1,203,293
8. Federico Butteroni – $1,097,056
9. Patrick Chan – $1,001,020
* Cover photo courtesy WSOP.com