It was the Joseph McKeehen show at the final day of the 2012-13 World Series of Poker Circuit Caesars Atlantic City Main Event on Monday, as the young player from Philadelphia began the day with a large chip lead, increased it as the day went on, and ultimately took the gold ring and the $174,150 first prize.
Final Table Payouts
McKeehen had grabbed the top spot in the tournament late on Day 2, then increased his lead considerably after two back-to-back hands in which he knocked out opponents while holding pocket aces. That helped position him atop the counts with 1.904 million to start Day 3, already well clear of second-place Raymond Morgan with 1.257 million and the rest of the pack.
The full field consisted of 19 players returning on Monday, survivors from the 540 total entries for the $1,675 buy-in tournament. The group was quickly reduced to 14 during the first hour of play, then to 11 during the second hour. That's when play slowed considerably as for a time the remaining players enjoyed stacks averaging nearly 50 big blinds.
McKeehen continued to build his formidable lead, further bolstered by his elimination of Gregory Masters in 11th place. Not too long after that, 76-year-old Thomas Sheets was knocked out in 10th place in a hand versus the second-oldest remaining player, 64-year-old Dennis Thurman.
But the day was destined belong to the table's youngest player, the 21-year-old McKeehen, who by the time the final table began found himself enjoying a stack nearly four times as big as his nearest challenger. When the final table began, McKeehen held 4.65 million in chips with Thurman the closest player to him with 1.24 million. The lone female remaining in the field, Hend Matthews, was the only other player over one million in chips at the time with 1.14 million.
Ultimately, the final table would take less than three 75-minute levels to complete, with McKeehen maintaining his lead from start to finish.
Allie Prescott was the first of the nine to fall after running the into the of John Holley. Leo Walker then followed Prescott to the rail shortly thereafter in eighth place after committing his last chips with the versus the of McKeehen and likewise failing to improve.
McKeehen continued to push his stack upward while Morgan battled with his short stack until finally reraising all in with the and getting a caller in Thurman who had the . The board ran out , and they were down to six.
A big hand then developed between Tony Sinishtaj and two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Holley that saw Sinishtaj earn a double up to more than 3 million after calling a huge check-raise shove by Holley on a flop. Sinistaj had the — better than Holley's — and when his hand held through the next two streets, there was suddenly a player seemingly within reach of challenging McKeehen's leading stack.
Sinishtaj would successfully maintain his chips to make it to heads-up play against McKeehen as the next four players were eliminated.
First, Sinishtaj finished off the short-stacked Holley in sixth when his pocket sixes held versus the latter's . After that it was McKeehen knocking out Matthews.
In Matthews’s last hand, she was all in with the against McKeehen's . The flop paired Matthews, but the came on the turn to give the chip leader a straight, and after the river she was out in fifth.
Thurman next went out in fourth, his not working for him against Sinishtaj's . Three-handed play then lasted a while before Ido Ashkenazi pushed with the and Sinishtaj called with the . The flop and turn were okay for Ashkenazi, but the on the river was not, and they were down to two.
McKeehen had 6.47 million and Sinishtaj 4.33 million to start heads-up play, meaning the stacks were competitive. But McKeehen soon picked up a couple of sizable pots to push out to a better than 6-to-1 chip lead, thus setting up the tournament's final hand.
Dealt the , Sinishtaj was ready to call when McKeehen four-bet shoved before the flop. But like what happened late on Day 2, McKeehen had once more been dealt a big pocket pair in a good spot — the this time — and when the board ran out , McKeehen had won.
The win marks young McKeehen's biggest score in his short career, with the first prize exceeding the $116,230 he won after taking down a $2,000 turbo event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure just over a year ago. He also earns himself a seat in the 2012-13 World Series of Poker Circuit National Championship in May.
The next stop for the WSOP Circuit takes place in Colorado at The Lodge Casino March 22-25. Our PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand for the event providing live updates once again, so you won't want to miss it.