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Joe McKeehen Wins 2021 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $25,500 Buy-In Big 4 High Roller

The 2015 WSOP Main Event Champion Topped A Field of 91 Entries, Earning $550,990 After Striking A Deal Heads-Up With Darren Elias


Joe McKeehen is arguably the most successful tournament player to have won the World Series of Poker main event in the modern era. He has accumulated nearly $10.9 million in earnings outside of the $7,683,346 he earned as the winner of the big dance in 2015. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native’s most recent major score came in the 2021 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $25,500 buy-in ‘Big 4’ High Roller nop-limit hold’em event. McKeehen defeated a field of 91 entries to secure the title and $550,990 to bring his career earnings to $18,583,182.

“I came in with a lot of chips and had a lot of hands early. I made some nice hands, won some pots and kind of just stayed afloat from that point on,” McKeehen told the SHRPO blog reporter. “I got to three-handed and had some chips. I got a little lucky and that was that.”

McKeehen earned 756 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his third title and fifth final-table finish of the year. His first major score of the year was a runner-up finish in the WPT Venetian $5,000 main event for $491,960. Just two days later he won a $10,000 high roller event at the Wynn Spring Classic for another $224,100. He made two podium finishes during this year’s U.S. Poker Open, including a win one of the $10,000 buy-in events for $200,200. With year-to-date POY earnings of $1,569,250 and a total of 3,496 points, McKeehen has surged up the standings and into seventh place in the 2021 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.

McKeehen also earned 331 PokerGO Tour rankings points for his victory. This was his fourth qualified score in that points race, and it was enough to see him move into 13th place on the PokerGO Tour leaderboard.

The final day of this event began with nine players remaining and McKeehen in the lead. Four-time World Poekr Tour main event winner Darren Elias started off in second chip position but quickly added to his stack by eliminating recent WPT Venetian main event winner Chad Eveslage in ninth place. Eveslage got all-in with pocket jacks, but was in rough shape against Elias’ pocket kings. Neither player improved and Eveslage hit the rail with $65,185 and 63 POY points. He remains in second place in the 2021 POY race, with 3,831 points and $1,844,703 in earnings so far this year.

Just a few minutes after Eveslage was knocked out, Nadya Magnus got all-in with her pocket threes racing against the ADiamond Suit4Heart Suit of McKeehen. The board brought two overpairs to Magnus’ threes to see her counterfeited and eliminated in eighth place ($67,430).

Dylan Smith’s run in this event came to an end when his ADiamond Suit3Spade Suit ran into the pocket kings of WSOP bracelet winner Joseph Cheong and failed to improve (7th – $78,670). Despite securing that pot, Cheong was ultimately the next to fall. He fell to the bottom of the leaderboard and shoved that last of his stack with AHeart Suit6Club Suit. McKeehen called with a dominating ASpade Suit7Diamond Suit, which remained the best hand by the river. Cheong earned $96,650 for his sixth-place showing.

David PetersThree-time bracelet winner David Peters was eliminated when his pocket aces were cracked by the KClub Suit7Club Suit suited of Darren Elias. Peters just called with ASpade SuitAHeart Suit from the big blind facing an under-the-gun raise from Elias. The flop brought the 6Club Suit4Club Suit2Heart Suit to give Elias a flush draw. Peters check-called a 80,000 bet and the KSpade Suit hit the turn, giving Elias a pair of kings to go along with his draw. Peters check-called again, this time to the tune of 225,000. The 8Club Suit on the river gave Elias his flush. Peters checked a third time and Elias moved all-in, putting Peters at risk for his last 395,000. Peters called and was sent home in fifth place ($128,120). This score increased his lifetime tournament earnings to $36,749,601, which is good for sixth on poker’s all-time money list.

Elias moved into a virtual tie for second place with Thomas Boivin, while Jake Daniels sat at the bottom of the chip counts entering four-handed play. Daniels’ final hand saw him get all-in with pocket threes. Elias called with pocket kings and the superior pair held up to see the field narrowed to three. Daniels earned $197,800 for his fourth-place finish. Boivin got his last 11 or so big blinds in the middle with AHeart Suit8Club Suit and received a call from the KHeart SuitKDiamond Suit of McKeehen. A clean runout saw McKeehen take down the pot, while Boivin settled for $285,460 as the third-place finisher.

The final two players began to discuss a deal. After looking at the numbers, they agreed to each lock up $539,135 from the remaining prize pool while leaving the remaining $11,855 and the trophy to be determined by flips. McKeehen was the shorter stack with 4,230,000 to Elias’ 4,870,000, but his 9Heart Suit4Heart Suit beat out the JClub Suit2Club Suit of Elias on a JHeart Suit8Diamond Suit7Heart Suit7Heart Suit10Diamond Suit runout to see him take a big lead heading into the second flip. McKeehen’s JClub Suit3Diamond Suit had Elias’ 5Club Suit3Club Suit dominated. The QDiamond Suit7Diamond Suit6Spade Suit10Diamond SuitKHeart Suit board locked up the title for McKeehen, while Elias finished as the runner-up.

Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings (Total) POY Points PokerGO
1 Joe McKeehen $550,990 756 331
2 Darren Elias $539,135 630 323
3 Thomas Boivin $285,460 504 171
4 Jake Daniels $197,800 378 119
5 David Peters $128,120 315 77
6 Joseph Cheong $96,650 252 58
7 Dylan Smith $78,670 189 47
8 Nadya Magnus $67,430 126 40
9 Chad Eveslage $65,185 63 39

Photo credits: PokerGO.