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World Series of Poker November Nine Set

Main Event Winner To Take Home $7.6 Million

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Sep 02, 2015


The biggest tournament of the year has reached the final table, but as has been the case since 2008, the poker world will have to wait until November to see who will be crowned champion of the 2015 World Series of Poker main event.

Each of the final nine players is now a millionaire, having guaranteed themselves the $1,001,020 ninth-place payday, but on Nov. 8 they will return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada to play for the top prize of $7,680,021.

A Look at the Numbers

A total of 6,420 players put up the $10,000 buy-in for the main event, creating a total prize pool of $60,348,000. The tournament experienced a small drop from 2014, when the field size was 6,683.

After experimenting with a top heavy $10 million guaranteed first-place prize in 2014, which went to Swedish pro Martin Jacobson, WSOP officials opted for a much flatter payout this year, giving the top 1,000 players at least $15,000 and making sure that all of the final tablists earn at least seven figures.

There were 80 unique countries represented in the field, with the United States leading the way with 4,778 entrants. Canada (323), the United Kingdom (279), France (84) and Germany (82) rounded out the top five nations. Some of the more uncommon countries represented in the tournament included Mongolia, Georgia, Angola, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Guam, and even Gibraltar, a 2.6 square mile peninsula that is home to just 30,000 people.

Just 252 players were female, representing just under four percent of the players in the tournament. While the average age of the players was 39.62, nearly half the field, 3,100 players, were between the ages of 21 and 35. Just 1,209 players were over the age of 50.

The youngest player to register for the event was Adrian Mateos from Spain, who was 21 years and six days old when he took his seat. Ironically, Mateos was the 2013 WSOP Europe main event champion, but hadn’t been eligible to play in the summer series until this year.

The oldest player was William Wachter, from Carmel, New York. The 94-year-old World War II veteran still plays in a weekly home game, but had to battle bouts of narcolepsy during the long days at the table.

Incredibly, both players finished in the money. Mateos banked $15,000 for his 750th-place finish. Meanwhile, Wachter made it all the way to day 4 before bowing out in 524th place for $19,500.

According to the WSOP, a total of 1,126 dealers were used during the tournament dealing from 1,488 decks of cards.

Some Notables From the Field

The first day of the main event is often the softest. The field is so big that finding even one recognizable pro at your table is the epitome of a bad table draw. So just imagine how you would feel to sit down at the table and see not only 14-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, but ten-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey as well.

The table of death only got more difficult from there when top pros Melanie Weisner and Keith Lehr sat down. Hellmuth wound up doubling up Ivey at one point, but rebounded to make the money. Then on day 4, his tournament run came to an end in 417th place, knocked out by yet another big name pro in Daniel Negreanu.

Going into day 2, many had their eyes locked on Ronnie Bardah, a poker pro who had cashed in the main event in five straight years. Unfortunately for the Brockton, Massachusetts native, he couldn’t survive the day and was eliminated short of the money.

Some celebrities who played in the event included Brad Garrett, Ray Romano, Aaron Paul, Nick Cassavetes, Shane Warne, Richard Seymour, James Woods, and John Arne Riise.

When the tournament reached the money bubble, there were two players eliminated during the hand-for-hand play process. Jonas Lauck and Roy Daoud both had the ill-fated privilege of being this year’s bubble boy, but only Daoud was given a free $10,000 seat into the 2016 main event after winning a high-card draw in front of ESPN cameras.

Other notables who made the money included Kenna James (985th), Cliff Josephy (956th), Hoyt Corkins (911th), Allen Cunningham (825th), Faraz Jaka (785th), Steve Zolotow (758th), John Monnette (629th), Chris Bjorin (605th), Jonathan Duhamel (565th), David Sands (468th), Ryan Riess (426th), Phil Laak (412th), Lee Markholt (335th), Joe Hachem (298th), George Danzer (280th), Vivek Rajkumar (197th), Antonio Esfandiari (168th), John Racener (162nd), Matt Glantz (146th), Jim Bechtel (121st), Matt Waxman (75th), Brian Hastings (49th), and Steve Gross (47th).

A total of six female players made day 5 of the main event, but only Kelly Minkin survived, becoming the last woman standing in the tournament. The 28-year-old attorney, who has had success on the World Poker Tour, finished in 29th place overall, banking $211,821.

The Germans had a particularly impressive showing in the tournament. An amazing four players made the final three tables. Fedor Holz (25th), Anton Morgenstern (22nd), Killian Kramer (18th), and Alexander Turyansky (10th) pocketed a combined $1.6 million in earnings. Pius Heinz, winner of the 2011 WSOP main event, remains the only German to ever make the final table.

As the field marched towards the final table, the poker world held its collective breath as it hoped Daniel Negreanu could do the unthinkable and make the November Nine. Kid Poker, who is the top tournament earner in the history of the game, was unable to overcome a short stack and saw his run come to an end in 11th place in one of the more dramatic moments in WSOP history.

The elimination hand will undoubtedly be one of the most talked-about moments of the ESPN broadcast. Negreanu called a button raise from runaway chip leader Joe McKeehen with AHeart Suit 4Diamond Suit and flopped top pair when the dealer put out ADiamond Suit KClub Suit 10Diamond Suit. After McKeehen fired in a continuation bet, Negreanu moved all in and McKeehen called with JDiamond Suit 3Diamond Suit for a flush and gutshot straight draw. The 3Heart Suit on the turn gave McKheehen even more outs to win and when the QHeart Suit fell on the river, a flabbergasted Negreanu fell backwards to the floor in shock.

With Turyansky’s elimination in tenth place, the November Nine was set.

A Look at the November Nine

Here’s a look at the final nine, according to information provided by the WSOP.

Seat: 1 — Ofer Zvi Stern
Chip Count: 29,800,000 (2nd)
Location: Herzilya, Israel
Age: 36
Profession: Declined To Answer
Lifetime Earnings: $146,746
Biggest Poker Score: 2015 $25,000 PCA High Roller — 34th Place ($44,540)

Zvi Stern is from Herzilya, Israel. In total, Stern has just $146,746 in lifetime poker winnings. The WSOP main event is the only event Stern played at this year’s WSOP, and this is the first time he has finished in the money in this event. Stern is the first Israeli main event final tablist since Amir Lehavot in 2013, and with a first or second-place finish, he can become the highest WSOP main event finisher from Israel. He has 15.5 percent of the chips in play, which puts him in second place heading to the November Nine.

Seat: 2 — Pierre Neuville
Chip Count: 21,075,000 (4th)
Location: Knokke-Heist, Belgium
Age: 72
Profession: Retired Businessman
Lifetime Earnings: $2,195,160
Biggest Poker Score: 2014 $5,000 WSOP — 2nd Place ($385,041)

Pierre Neuville can become the oldest WSOP main event winner in the 46-year history of the event, and he is already the eldest final table participant at the age of 72. The Belgium-born Neuville was late to the game of poker, picking it up in his fifties after a career working as a board game maker, eventually selling his creation to Hasbro, where he later went to work. The retired businessman turned poker hobbyist has played six of the last seven years at the WSOP main event, cashing in 662nd place in 2010. This marks his first final-table appearance at the WSOP. Neuville has $591,460 in career WSOP earnings and 19 WSOP cashes. He played 25 events at the WSOP this year, and this marks his second in-the-money finish of 2015. He has amassed $2,195,160 in career poker tournament earnings. With a second-place finish, he would pass Davidi Kitai for the top spot on the all-time Belgium tournament earnings list. Married, with children, the Brussels University graduate now lives in Knokke-Heist, a seaside town in the northwest part of the country.

Seat: 3 — Joshua Beckley
Chip Count: 10,800,000 (7th)
Location: Marlton, New Jersey
Age: 24
Profession: Poker Player
Lifetime Earnings: $219,526
Biggest Poker Score: 2014 Parx Big Stax VII — 1st Place ($98,348)

Josh Beckley is the second New Jersey player at this final table. He is a 24-year-old poker professional from Marlton, just outside Philadelphia. He has cashed four previous times at the WSOP, all this year, for $19,403 and his total lifetime live tournament winnings are $219,526. He played 14 events during the 2015 WSOP, finishing five of 14 in the money, with this being his first-ever final table.

Seat: 4 — Max Steinberg
Chip Count: 20,200,000 (5th)
Location: Oakland, California
Age: 27
Profession: Poker Player
Lifetime Earnings: $1,936,457
Biggest Poker Score: 2012 $1,000 WSOP — 1st Place ($440,238)

Max Steinberg is a 27-year-old Washington, D.C.-born professional poker player, now residing in Oakland, California. He is a WSOP gold bracelet winner, winning event no. 33 at the 2012 WSOP, outlasting a 2,795-player field. He also was the runner-up of the 2013 WSOP National Championship. Steinberg splits his time these days playing poker and daily fantasy sports. Steinberg won his seat into the WSOP main event by winning a satellite on the site Max is no stranger to deep runs in this very tournament, finishing in 131st place just two years ago. With WSOP earnings more than $1.4 million via 11 previous cashes, Steinberg has $1.936 million in career poker tournament earnings. He played just five events at the 2015 WSOP, and the main event marked his only in-the-money finish.

Seat: 5 — Thomas Cannuli
Chip Count: 12,250,000 (6th)
Location: Cape May, New Jersey
Age: 23
Profession: Poker Player
Lifetime Earnings: $52,235
Biggest Poker Score: 2014 $10,000 WSOP Main Event — 691st Place ($18,406)

Thomas Cannuli is a 23-year-old poker professional from Cape May, New Jersey with just $20,203 in WSOP earnings coming from two previous cashes. He has lifetime tournament earnings of $52,235 and his best previous finish was a 691st-place finish in the 2014 main event for $18,406. Cannuli played eight WSOP events this year, with the main event his only in-the-money finish. 

Seat: 6 — Joseph McKeehen
Chip Count: 64,100,000 (1st)
Location: North Wales, Pennsylvania
Age: 24
Profession: Poker Player
Lifetime Earnings: $1,995,070
Biggest Poker Score: 2014 $1,500 WSOP Monster Stack — 2nd Place ($820,863)

The chip leader is poker professional Joe McKeehen from North Wales, Pennsylvania. He has total WSOP tournament earnings of $883,494 in eight previous cashes. McKeehen has won two WSOP Circuit rings, and his biggest cash before this final table was for $820,863, when he finished runner-up in the inaugural Monster Stack event at the WSOP in 2014 that featured another huge field of 7,862 players. McKeehen played 22 events during the 2015 WSOP, cashing in four, including the main event. His previous best finish in this event came in 2013 when he finished in 489th place. He is one of three players at this final table with more than a million dollars in career earnings, and will be holding nearly 33 percent of the chips in play when the tournament resumes.

Seat: 7 — Patrick Chan
Chip Count: 6,225,000 (8th)
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Age: 26
Profession: Poker Player
Lifetime Earnings: $524,263
Biggest Poker Score: 2012 $2,500 Borgata Fall Poker Open — 3rd Place ($131,895)

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Patrick Chan is a 26-year-old professional poker player who attended the College of Staten Island. He has four previous WSOP cashes for $113,145 and has amassed $524,263 in live tournament poker winnings in his short career. This is the fourth consecutive year he has played the main event, and his first time to reach the money. He played a total of four WSOP events in 2015, cashing in two of them.

Seat: 8 — Federico Butteroni
Chip Count: 6,200,000 (9th)
Location: Rome, Italy
Age: 25
Profession: Poker Player
Lifetime Earnings: $103,006
Biggest Poker Score: 2015 $1,500 WSOP — 20th Place ($45,633)

Hailing from Rome, Italy is 25-year-old Federico Butteroni. He played 13 events this year at the WSOP, and the main event marked his second cash. Butteroni has $103,006 in career earnings, with $49,255 coming in WSOP gold bracelet events. His only career victory came in a $235 daily deepstack tournament at the Rio. Butteroni is the second Italian to make the November Nine, joining Filippo Candio who took fourth place in 2010.

Seat: 9 — Neil Blumenfield
Chip Count: 22,000,000 (3rd)
Location: San Francisco, California
Age: 61
Profession: Software Executive
Lifetime Earnings: $130,468
Biggest Poker Score: 2012 $10,000 WSOP Main Event — 285th Place ($38,453)

Neil Blumenfield joins Pierre Neuville as the only 60+ year olds at this final table. Along with Neuville, Blumenfield, 61, who was born in Chicago, is only the second November Niner over the age of 60 in the eight-year history of this format. Blumenfield works in the software industry and plays poker as a hobby. He’s a UC Berkeley graduate and is proud to say that he is a former high school debate champion. Blumenfield has $44,395 in WSOP earnings via two previous cashes and has a total of one tournament victory and $130,468 in poker tournament winnings. This is the fifth-consecutive year Neil has played the WSOP main event, and he has one prior cash in 2012, when he finished in 285th. He will start as the third-largest chip stack.

The Remaining Payouts
1st place $7,680,021
2nd place $4,469,171
3rd place $3,397,103
4th place $2,614,558
5th place $1,910,971
6th place $1,426,072
7th place $1,203,193
8th place $1,097,009
9th place $1,001,020

Adding Context To Joe McKeehen’s Monster Stack At World Series Of Poker Final Table

By Brian Pempus

In the post-Chris Moneymaker era, no other player accumulated a larger portion of the chips in play by the time the main event final table was set than Joe McKeehen has.
McKeehen dominated short-handed play at his table last week as the final table bubble loomed, raising almost every hand, eliminating Daniel Negreanu in 11th place in the process. As a result, McKeehen built his stack up to 63.1 million by the time play was suspended for the months-long hiatus until early November.

A total of 6,420 players entered the 2015 World Series of Poker main event, each receiving 30,000 in chips for their $10,000 entry fee. With his stack, McKeehen currently sits with 32.76 percent of the chips in play, which is even more than the monster stacks of runaway winners Jamie Gold in 2006 (32.66 percent) and Greg “Fossilman” Raymer in 2004 (31.89 percent).

The coloring-up process that begins in the early stages of the tournament does often add some more chips into play by the time of the final table, but we’re going to ignore that here for simplicity.

Out of the players who had more than 30 percent of the chips in play over the past 11 years, not one has finished worse than second. Raymer, Gold and Jonathan Duhamel (30.04 percent in 2010) all had such stacks and all won the main event. Only Darvin Moon (30.25 percent in 2009) didn’t win the bracelet, and he finished second despite being one of the least-experienced players at the table.

Chip leaders with less than 20 percent of the chips had finishes that ranged from ninth (Philip Hilm) to third (Jorryt van Hoof and Dennis Phillips) during the period. It’s not enough to simply possess the chip lead. Having a huge stack to put the pressure on the short stacks has proven to be a massive advantage for those who can build one before the final table begins.

Of course, this applies to all poker tournaments, but likely more so in the main event due to the seven-figure pay increases between some spots. It is worth noting that the WSOP main event payout structure is a lot less top heavy than it used to be, with the most extreme example of the old payout mentality being the nearly $6 million difference between first and second in the 2006 main event.

To put it another way, anything but first or second for the 24-year-old McKeehen wouldn’t just be disappointing for him and his supporters, it would be statistically unusual, especially considering that he’s a seasoned poker pro.

The top prize is $7,680,021, while the runner-up will receive $4,469,171. If the final table were to agree on an ICM (Independent Chip Model) chop right now, McKeehen’s stack would already be worth $4,739,634, which is better than second-place money. ♠