Having kicked off way back in the summer, the 2015 WSOP Main Event has finally reached it's finale, crowning a new world champion in the process. The main story in the run up to this final table, had been the universally liked and respected, Daniel Negreanu. When he fell in 11th place, the fairytale ended, but the story of the final table, rolled on regardless.
The only player at the final table to already own a bracelet, Max Steinberg, came into this final table with a workable 20,200,000 stack. Many felt that if he could get his hands on some extra ammunition in the early stages, he may pose a significant threat to McKeehan. When he briefly crossed the 33 million mark, hopes were raised, but his challenge faltered after losing a big pot to Josh Beckley. In the end, all he could do was shepherd home his stack to a 4th place finish.
McKeehan began the final table with 63,100,000 and his nearest challenger, an unpredictable Israeli player by the name of Zvi Stern, could have posed a threat with 29,800,000. After a fairly steady start though, he unravelled, and was eventually dumped out in 5th place. The surprise of this final table, came in the form of Josh Beckley. After starting with the third shortest stack of 11,800,000 he burst into contention with 4 remaining, surging to 46 million. But, like the attempts of those around him to mount a challenge, the momentum soon faded. He did manage to get heads up with Mckeehan, but never looked like wrestling this one away from him. Heads up play began with around 37 million versus 156 million, and lasted just 13 hands with Mckeehan claiming the final victory.
Joe McKeehan had been exemplary in the summer, as the field shrank from 15 players to 9, strengthening his chip position with a hail storm of opening bets. He clearly knew exactly how to put his chips to work, and the final table ultimately became an echo of that. We have seen chip leaders flounder and finish 2nd or 3rd before at Main Event final tables, and in a brief moment when McKeehan slipped from 95 million back to 75 million, perhaps the crowd started to wonder if this would slide away from McKeehan. But, the man himself, never wavered. He simply stuck to his task, soon extending his lead again.
McKeehan took down the championship bracelet and $7.6 million in cash (Photo WSOP.com)
Some might say that a big chip leader cruising to an expected victory lacks excitement, but it's important to recognise the composed, consummate manner in which McKeehan dismantled the opposition. He produced a ruthless display of poker, from the moment he took the tournament lead.
If there were any negatives to pick out from this final table, the painfully slow decision making didn't help to excite new audiences, and perhaps this will be addressed in the coming months, with Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, both mentioning the issue.
– 1st – Joe McKeehan – $7,683,346
– 2nd – Josh Beckley – $4,470,896
– 3rd – Neil Blumenfield – $3,398,298
– 4th – Max Steinberg – $2,615,361
– 5th – Ofer Zvi Stern – $1,911,423
– 6th – Tom Cannuli – $1,426,283
– 7th – Pierre Neuville – $1,203,293
– 8th – Federico Butteroni – $1,097,056
– 9th – Patrick Chan – $1,001,020
Article by Craig B.