The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event was his tournament to lose coming into the final table on Sunday, Nov. 8, and Joe McKeehen put on a commanding performance that backed up all expectations of him running away with the title.
It took 184 hands of final-table play for McKeehen to seal the deal, and after the hit the river on the final hand, $7.7 million and ultimate poker glory was all his.
To say McKeehen ran away with the victory would be an understatement. He entered the final table with over double the chips of his next closest competitor, advanced to six-handed play with 2.81 times second place, and then entered the three-handed finale with 3.21 times more than second place in his arsenal. Not only that, but when anyone tried to play back at McKeehen, he either had the goods or made very strong decisions that allowed him to keep up his dominance.
When asked if he ever started to worry about his position at the table, McKeehen said the last time he got a little worried in the event was back on Day 6. That seems like forever ago, and now it's McKeehen's name that will forever live in the poker history books as the 2015 WSOP Main Event champion.
2015 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results
|5||Ofer Zvi Stern||Israel||$1,911,423|
On the first day of the final table, McKeehen knocked out the first three players. That helped propel him from his starting stack of 63.1 million to 91.35 million, and it was much more of the same on the second day, just sans the three eliminations. On Monday, McKeehen only took out one player, and that was Max Steinberg in fourth place to end the day. After starting with 91.35 million, McKeehen increased to 128.825 million.
On both days leading into Tuesday, McKeehen added over 40 percent to his stack.
Heading into the final day, it certainly looked as though McKeehen was going to win and both Josh Beckley and Neil Blumenfield were playing for second. After starting the day second in chips, Blumenfield ran a bluff against McKeehen that put the chip leader in a tough spot on the river. McKeehen made the call with top pair and knocked Blumenfield to the bottom of the trio.
Although he won a few pots after the failed bluff, Blumenfield couldn't mount a comeback and finished in third place when his four-bet jammed with pocket twos and McKeehen finished him off with pocket queens.
Heads-up play was more of the same; it was all McKeehen.
He started the duel with 155.65 million to Beckley's 37 million, won the first three hands before Beckley could get any traction by winning one of his own, snatched a chunk six hands in, and then finished the job on the 13th hand between the two.
With a stack of 19.4 million, Beckley moved all in from the button, and McKeehen wasted little time in making the call. He had the , which left Beckley's tournament life hanging in the balance in a coin flip with the .
The flop propelled McKeehen to the front and left Beckley in need of a two-outer. After the came close on the turn, it was down to the river for Beckley to stay alive.
After a final burn card to the felt, the dealer ripped off the and McKeehen's hands shot up to the rafters in celebration. The man from North Wales, Pennsylvania, had just won $7.7 million and poker's most prestigious title, and it was as a dominating performance as this event has ever seen.
Congratulations to McKeehen on winning the 2015 WSOP Main Event and cementing himself in the poker history books!
*Photo courtesy of Jayne Furman/WSOP.