Domination By Joe McKeehen On Day 1 of the 2015 WSOP Main Event Final Table

Thomas Cannuli and Joe McKeehen

Can Joe McKeehen do any wrong in the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event?

He came into the start of the final table with an overwhelming chip lead and did nothing but pad that lead thanks to knocking out three players on the day. After just about five and a half hours of action, six players remained and they will return on Monday to battle down to three-handed play.

First to go was Patrick Chan, who entered the final table second to last in chips, just a half a big blind ahead of Federico Butteroni. Chan's final table only lasted two hands, as he opted to call all in on the second hand dealt with the {K-Spades}{Q-Clubs} from the small blind against a button shove by McKeehen. McKeehen had the {A-Diamonds}{4-Hearts} and held after the board ran out {10-Clubs}{6-Hearts}{5-Spades}{3-Hearts}{9-Clubs}.

On the 35th hand of the final table, Butteroni found himself all in and at risk with the {A-Hearts}{J-Clubs} against the {A-Spades}{K-Spades} for McKeehen. This was the second hand Butteroni played, and it was the second time he shoved. The first was on Hand #21 when his all-in push went uncalled.

Unfortunately for the Italian who had hoped to outdo his countryman Filippo Candio from 2010, Butteroni's run ended in eighth place after a run out of {10-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}{9-Spades}{7-Diamonds}.

That gave McKeehen 40 percent of the chips in play with around 70 million, but he wasn't done there.

As some more grinding allowed McKeehen to climb up over 80 million in chips and approach 90 million, Belgian Pierre Neuville fell shorter and shorter. Eventually, he made a stand on Hand #72 when he moved all in from the big blind for 3 million with the {A-Clubs}{J-Clubs} after McKeehen had opened to 1.2 million from the cutoff seat. The price was right for McKeehen to call with the {J-Hearts}{6-Hearts}, and Neuville was in a dominating spot to double up.

The {Q-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}{3-Hearts} flop kept the 72-year-old Neuville in front, but the {Q-Hearts} on the turn made things a bit interesting as McKeehen had added a heart flush draw. After the final burn card, Neuville couldn't dodge the {10-Hearts} on the river that gave McKeehen a flush. With that, he was out in seventh place for just over $1.2 million and the day was over.

McKeehen will now take a commanding stack of 91.35 million into the second day of play for the final table. The next closest competitor was Israel's Ofer Zvi Stern on 32.5 million, and then Neil Blumenfield finished on 31.5 million. McKeehen has quite the lead on either of those two, and then it's Max Steinberg with 16 million, Joshua Beckley with 10.875 million, and Thomas Cannuli with 10.425 million bunched up as the bottom trio.

RankPlayerCountryChips
1Joe McKeehenUSA91,350,000
2Ofer Zvi SternIsrael32,500,000
3Neil BlumenfieldUSA31,500,000
4Max SteinbergUSA16,000,000
5Joshua BeckleyUSA10,875,000
6Thomas CannuliUSA10,425,000
    
PlacePlayerCountryPrize
7Pierre NeuvilleBelgium$1,203,293
8Federico ButteroniItaly$1,097,056
9Patrick ChanUSA$1,001,020

When the six of them return for action that is set to be under way at 4:30 p.m. local time in Las Vegas on Monday, they'll each be guaranteed $1.426 million in prize money. All eyes will be on the $7.683 million first-place prize, but by the looks of it right now, that's going to be McKeehen's to lose. He has only pulled the hopes of becoming the next WSOP Main Event champion closer, and it will be up to the other five to take him down.

*Photo courtesy of Jamie Thompson/888poker.

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