WSOP Main Event Final Table: What To Watch For

Written By Steve Ruddock on November 6, 2015

The November Nine, the final nine players competing for the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship, will return to the Rio on Sunday to finish what they started several months ago when they were simply nine players in a field of 6,420, all with dreams of being crowned the next WSOP Main Event champion.

The final table of the WSOP Main Event will play out over the course of three days, November 8-10:

  • November 8: Play down to final four; Live at 8:30 PM on ESPN2
  • November 9: Play down to final two; Live at 8:00 PM on ESPN2
  • November 10: Winner crowned; Live at 9:00 PM on ESPN

Here’s what to watch for.

Can Joe McKeehen seal the deal?

Joe McKeehen will enter the final table with the largest chip lead in modern WSOP history.

With nearly one third of the chips in play (32.8 percent to be exact), McKeehen has a bigger lead on the field than Greg Raymer in 2004 (32.4 percent), Jamie Gold in 2006 (29.2 percent), Darvin Moon in 2009 (30.2 percent), and Jonathan Duhamel in 2010 (30 percent). Those four players finished first, first, second, and first, respectively.

History says McKeehen is a strong favorite to win the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event, and he’s the odds on favorite at every sportsbook taking WSOP Main Event wagers.

The scrubbing of DraftKings advertisements

What you won’t see on ESPN or at the WSOP Main Event final table is any mention of DraftKings. The company’s logo was everywhere this summer, as DraftKings’ logo was emblazoned on every poker table, seen on signage all over the Rio, and don’t forget it had its very own DraftKings-branded WSOP event.

However, with the current legal and regulatory climate the entire DFS industry is dealing with, and with Nevada warning its licensed casino operators to think long and hard about working with DFS companies, DraftKings has asked the WSOP to remove all of its branded advertising from the Main Event final table. This is a huge blow to DraftKings, as the November Nine is one of the few can’t-miss programs in poker.

It will also be interesting to see which company fills the advertising void left by DraftKings. You can be certain Caesars and the WSOP aren’t going to simply put black tape over the DraftKings logos; that’s valuable advertising space.

Less cautious play

A new payout structure may speed things up a bit at the final table, as this year the payouts are extremely flat from 9th to 6th place. The expected result of this new structure is players with small and medium chip stacks will be less likely to try to survive a pay jump or two, and more willing to “play for the win,” where the real money is.

Place 2013 2014 2015
1st $10,000,000 $8,359,232 $8,000,000
2nd $4,958,925 $5,173,170 $4,663,527
3rd $3,588,468 $3,727,023 $3,500,000
4th $2,791,983 $2,686,148 $2,750,000
5th $2,106,526 $2,020,977 $2,000,000
6th $1,600,793 $1,535,691 $1,500,000
7th $1,225,225 $1,171,871 $1,250,000
8th $944,593 $900,018 $1,100,000
9th $733,224 $695,261 $1,000,000

Look at it this way: In 2014, a player would more than double his payout and earn an additional $840,040 ($695,261 compared to $1,535,691) if he could simply hang on to his chips and survive while three other players were eliminated. This year, that same strategy would net the player less money, $500,000, and just 50 percent more money than they would receive for a 9th place finish.

The difference between 8th and 9th place is also quite different this year; in 2014 the difference between 8th and 9th place was over $200,000 – this year it is only $100,000.

The ageless wonder that is Pierre Neuville

From 2008 to 2014, only three players over the age of 50 had made the WSOP Main Event final table: 53 year old Dennis Phillips in 2008, 52 year old Kevin Schaffel in 2009, and until this year the honorific of “oldest November Niner” was held by 57 year old Steve Gee, who made the November Nine in 2012.

However, the 2015 WSOP Main Event final table features not one but two players older than Gee, and both are over 60. There is the 61 year old Neil Blumenfeld and the 72 year old Pierre Neuville.

Neuville also has the chance to become the first Belgian (no, he’s not French) to win the WSOP Main Event. And at the same time, he could become the oldest person to ever win the title, a record currently held by Johnny Moss, who won the 1974 WSOP Main Event at the age of 67.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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