The World Series of Poker Main Event wasted no time in producing dramatics as the first of the final November Nine players was eliminated on just the second hand of the night.
Brooklyn native Patrick Chan entered as the second shortest stack and called big stack Joe McKeehen’s shove and went all-in less than 10 minutes into play with his 5.25 million chips.
McKeehen had the advantage with A♦ 4♥ compared to Chan’s K♥ Q♣.
The flop 10♣ 6♥ 5♥ and 3♥ turn and 9♣ river solidified Chan’s early exit and gave him the unwanted title of exiting the Niner first, a designation Mark Newhouse has held the previous two years.
The nearly six hours of play continued with excitement thanks to rather stellar play by the fedora wearing Neil Blumenfield and his back-and-forth with Ofer Zvi Stern.
With two additional players exiting the felt and two more nights to go, the 46th installment of the World Series of Poker is once again shaping up to be a monumental showdown.
No Brotherly Love
Entering the action on Sunday, Philadelphia native McKeehen possessed nearly 33 percent of the remaining chips in play, a commanding big stack that hasn’t been seen in the modern November Nine era.
McKeehen took a rather passive strategy to begin the night, furiously folding on many occasions and sliding the cards back to the dealer as if they offended the big stack.
WSOP legend Phil Hellmuth commended McKeehen’s patient play during a break, and hand analyst and poker’s second all-time money leader Antonio Esfandiari also admired his composed play, though added at some point he will strike.
It didn’t take too long for McKeehen to get involved in more hands. After eliminating Chan on the second hand of the night, he took out short stack Federico Butteroni on hand #35, McKeehen’s A♥ K♥ topping the Italian’s A♥ J♣ following a flop, turn and river of 10♣ 6♦ 3♦ 9♥ 7♦.
Playing until the table became six-handed, it would take over two hours until Pierre Neuville became McKeehen’s third ousted victim of the night on hand #72 with a flush draw over the 72-year-old.
McKeehen finished the first day of the Niner with 91.45 million chips, almost half of the remaining chips in play.
The five remaining challengers certainly have their work cut out for them, but don’t look for McKeehen to provide any insight into his play before the WSOP concludes.
“Media: I respectfully reject all interview requests until after the tournament is over,” the big stack tweeted. “Please respect my privacy in the next 2 days. Thanks.”
Stacks Back Tonight
The World Series of Poker returns a half-hour earlier tonight on ESPN2 at 8:00 pm ET, the final six expected to play until only three players remain.
Here’s the current breakdown of where everyone stands:
Joe McKeehen 91,450,000
Ofer Zvi Stern 32,400,000
Neil Blumenfield 31,500,000
Max Steinberg 16,000,000
Josh Beckley 10,875,000
Thomas Cannuli 10,425,000
With level 38 approaching and a 100,000 ante and 400k/800k blinds, it could be a relatively short night should McKeehen land some strong hole cards and the three short stacks shove.
Or perhaps McKeehen will take a cautious approach to begin the evening as he did on day one.
Of course, only the cards truly know what is in store for day two.