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

Pennsylvania Poker Pro Tops Other Chip Leaders Post-Moneymaker


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.

McKeehen dominated short-handed play at his table last week as the final table bubble loomed, raising almost every hand and 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).

Jamie Gold at the 2006 WSOPThe 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.

Jonathan Duhamel at the 2010 WSOPOf 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. First was about twice that of second.

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.

Here’s a look at past final table chip leaders, their percentage of the total chips in play and how they finished in the tournament.

Year Player Name Chips Percentage Result
2015 Joe McKeehen 63.1 million 32.76% TBD
2014 Jorry van Hoof 38.375 million 19.14% 3rd
2013 J.C. Tran 38 million 19.94% 5th
2012 Jesse Sylvia 43.875 million 22.17% 2nd
2011 Eoghan O’Dea 35.4 million 17.19% 6th
2010 Jonathan Duhamel 65.975 million 30.04% 1st
2009 Darvin Moon 58.93 million 30.25% 2nd
2008 Dennis Phillips 26.295 million 19.22% 3rd
2007 Philip Hilm 22.07 million 17.36% 9th
2006 Jamie Gold 28.65 million 32.66% 1st
2005 Aaron Kanter 10.7 million 19.04% 4th
2004 Greg Raymer 8.215 million 31.89% 1st

Note: 2007 is when the World Series of Poker first gave a 20,000 main event starting stack, and 2009 is when it became the current 30,000 starting stack.



4 years ago

Martin Jacobson was the 8th largest stack last year - starting the 2014 November 9 - with 7.4% of the total chips and he won.


4 years ago

O'Dea wasn't the Chipleader in 2011. Martin Stasko was with 40.2 mil for 19.5 percent of the chips. He finished 2nd.