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World Series Of Poker Champ Joe McKeehen Blames Media For Tournaments Starting An Hour Earlier

Bracelet Winner Says Poker Players Treated Like 'Slaves'

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Poker’s year-long ambassador took to Twitter this week to express his discontent with many WSOP tournaments this year beginning at 11 a.m., explaining that poker players “have been getting sh-t on because of the media ever since I started playing live poker.”

Joe McKeehen, who won the 2015 World Series of Poker main event for roughly $7.6 million, said on his social media account that he “thought [the 11 a.m. start times] were just a joke,” and then went on to blame the poker media for the start times being pushed up one hour. The WSOP announced the changes five weeks ago.

The WSOP employs its own media team to produce live updates from the bracelet events.

“The fact the media has ANY say or impact on the players and how the tournament is ran is a f—king joke,” McKeehen said. “They have nothing to do with how the tournament is played, they just report it, and 90 percent of them clearly don’t even try […] but the players have been getting sh-t on because of media ever since I started playing live poker so I guess it’s not a surprise.”

The comments got a response from poker pro Daniel Negreanu, who McKeehen actually eliminated from the main event in 11th place.

“I can tell you with absolute certainty the media had absolutely nothing to do with it,” Negreanu said. “What do you claim to know that I don’t? I was involved internally and am telling you media had nothing at all to do with it.”

McKeehen then said Negreanu was being “obscene.” At one point, McKeehen said the time change “won’t affect me as much as many others but in a city that never sleeps (Vegas) it’s going to cause many [people] to skip events.” At another point, he said poker players are slaves.

An earlier start time doesn’t negatively affect participation levels, the WSOP said.

According to WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky, there were seven events (of 68 in total) last year that began at 10 a.m., and those events accounted for 35.4 percent of all entries for the summer.

“The simple math shows, the two hour earlier start (10 a.m. from typical 12 noon in 2015) had no issues getting players there,” Palansky told Card Player. “This information, combined with additional player feedback on long playing days, was the impetus for the tweak moving 12 noon events to an 11 a.m. start time in 2016. Of course, we will keep several 10 a.m. starting events on the schedule too, as they proved plenty successful.”

McKeehen’s comments garnered attention from various members of the poker industry, one of which was IBus Media’s Matt Parvis. “I’ve been working the WSOP for 10 years and I nor anyone I know have ever ‘lobbied’ for start time changes,” Parvis Tweeted.