Daniel Negreanu has won more money playing poker than anyone else in the history of the game, but the coveted title of World Series of Poker Main Event Champion will elude “Kid Poker” for at least another year.
After outlasting thousands of opponents and knocking out several marquee names including 1989 Main Event champ Phil Hellmuth, Negreanu bowed out just after midnight Wednesday morning in 11th place, tying his best career WSOP Main Event finish.
6,420 entries paid the $10,000 buy-in for the WSOP No-Limit Hold’em Main Event, creating a total prizepool of $60,348,000.
That’s slightly less than the 6,683 players and $62.8 million prizepool in 2014, but more than 2013.
Negreanu has never reached the final table of the Main Event, billed as the November Nine, and when play resumed Tuesday with just 27 still in contention, all eyes were on the poker great.
Certainly WSOP and ESPN executives had their fingers crossed, as Negreanu occupying one of the seats at the final table unquestionably would have increased viewership and ratings, and ultimately, advertising revenues.
Down to just 11 players, Negreanu met his match by way of Joe McKeehen, a 24-year-old Philadelphian nicknamed “The Broad Street Bully.” With the crowd cheering on Negreanu, McKeehen called his 5.8 million all-in push.
With A♦K♣T♦ on the board, Negreanu revealed his A♠4♦ top pair to McKeehen’s J♦3♦ straight and flush draw. Following the 3♥ turn, McKeehen was clearly in control, and when the dealer dropped the Q♥ river, the biggest hand in his career was cemented.
“This is the one feather in my cap I don’t have yet,” Negreanu said early on Tuesday. And after his elimination, he made no secret about his disappointment.
“I think the biggest disappointment is thinking about all the extracurricular things I could have done as part of the November Nine, up the ratings and get people involved,” Negreanu told reporters. “I love to promote the game. I love this game. I owe it a lot.”
November Nine Set
The final table certainly could have used some star power to garner interest, as the remaining nine players have one combined WSOP bracelet. For the record, Negreanu owns six.
And if we can learn anything from history, it’s that an unknown field leads to diminished television viewership. In 2014, none of the final table players owned a WSOP bracelet, though it did have Mark Newhouse, the first player to reach consecutive November Nines since Dan Harrington in 2004.
That led to a 6.1 percent drop last year for the two nights of “nearly live” coverage, attracting 1.15 million people to the their television sets to watch poker’s richest event unfold. The lineup for 2015 doesn’t seem to point to a rating’s reversal.
The November Nine
Age: 24 61.3 million chips WSOP cashes: 8
Age: 36 29.8 million chips WSOP cashes: 1
Age: 6122 million chipsWSOP cashes: 2
Age: 7221 million chipsWSOP cashes: 19
Max Steinberg (the lone bracelet holder)
Age: 2720 million chipsWSOP cashes: 11
Age: 2312.2 million chipsWSOP cashes: 2
Age: 2411.8 million chipsWSOP cashes: 4
Age: 266.2 million chipsWSOP cashes: 4
Age: 256.2 million chipsWSOP cashes: 2
Players now embark on a four-month hiatus, retuning to the Rio on November 8th to conclude the 46th annual World Series of Poker.