Last 9 set at World Series of Poker; finale eludes Negreanu

By Kempton

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Six-time bracelet winner and poker pro Daniel Negreanu seemed headed for a fairy tale ending at the World Series of Poker, but the dream was crushed by the queen of hearts sending him to the sidelines in the chase for the $7.7 million top prize.

poker88Instead, nine other competitors will finish poker’s richest tournament in November, including a 72-year-old former Hasbro executive and a 27-year-old poker pro who won his $10,000 buy-in for the no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event by playing daily fantasy sports.

Eight players are chasing Joe McKeehen, a 24-year-old Pennsylvanian who will go into the final table with a dominant chip lead after bouncing several players Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Daniel Negreanu, center, competes at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Negreanu wagered the last of his chips after an ace in his hand paired the board. McKeehen called with several draws, the odds of winning the hand against him but plenty of chips to absorb a loss. He won when the queen delivered a straight on the final community card.

“I killed the room. I know that,” McKeehen said of the knockout. “I know I may be a villain for a little while.”

Negreanu, 40, had plenty of fans cheering him at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino as he sought his biggest score in his hall-of-fame career, obliging them with photos, banter and even 30 push-ups as they counted out loud. Though he’s won six smaller tournaments at the series and amassed more than $15 million in World Series of Poker earnings since 1998, the fun-loving pro nicknamed “Kid Poker” has never reached the final table of poker’s marquee event.

He won nearly $527,000 for 11th place, matching his 11th place finish in the 2001 main event, when only 613 players entered and he won less than $64,000.

Negreanu appeared to take his loss in stride, though he tumbled backward onstage with his head in his hands when the final queen was dealt.

“I hurt my head a little bit on the fall,” he said, rubbing the back of his head.

McKeehen finished the seventh card session surprised at his position after also eliminating German Alex Turyansky in 10th place ($756,897) and Justin Schwartz in 14th ($411,453), with more than double the chips of any of his competitors.

While the position gives McKeehen a clear advantage, there’s still plenty of work ahead to secure a win. Chips have no monetary value at the tournament; players must lose all their chips to be eliminated or win all the chips in play to win as minimum bets rise every two hours.

The final nine players will each be paid $1 million in ninth-place money before returning for the final table Nov. 8-9. They’ll be paid the rest based on their finish.

Neil Blumenfield, 61, of San Francisco, never expected to make a deep run after resigning from his tech software job before the tournament. He canceled a flight over the weekend because he was still pursuing the championship and is already planning on working less and playing more poker.

“It’s time in my life,” he said, saying he plans to relax in France before returning to Las Vegas for the finale.

Blumenfield and 72-year-old Belgian Pierre Neuville are but two signs of a unique final table for a tournament that typically attracts young men who play poker online. Even the fashion has been different this year, as Blumenfield wore a fedora and scarf and another finalist, 27-year-old Max Steinberg, donned a suit and tie in a tournaments that’s usually a showcase of hoodies and dark sunglasses.

“It’s empowering. It makes me feel good,” said Steinberg, who will start in fifth position in chips at the final table after winning his entry through a DraftKings contest.

The other players at the final table are Zvi Stern, 36; Thomas Cannuli, 23; Josh Beckley, 24; Patrick Chan, 26; and Federico Butteroni, 25.

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The story has been corrected to show that player Neil Blumenfield resigned from his job before the tournament started, not necessarily the day before.

Joseph McKeehen smiles after winning a pot at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Daniel Negreanu, right, and Federico Butteroni compete at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Joseph McKeehen smiles after winning a pot at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Zvi Stern covers his face with his sweatshirt while playing at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. The last nine players will claim at least $1 million each and a spot at the final table. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Players compete at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Players compete at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Max Steinberg plays at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Daniel Negreanu stretches while playing at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Daniel Negreanu, right, looks at Joseph McKeehen as they play at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Alexander Turyansky competes at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. The last nine players claim at least $1 million each and a spot at the final table. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Justin Schwartz reacts after getting knocked out of the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Justin Schwartz reacts after getting knocked out of the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. After seven sessions of gameplay spread over 10 days, the players left standing in the no-limit Texas Hold ’em tournament will each be paid just over $1 million in ninth-place money,(AP Photo/John Locher)

Matt Guan competes at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Justin Schwartz smiles after winning a pot at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Neil Blumenfield, Pierre Neuville and Zvi Stern, from left, compete at the World Series of Poker main event Tuesday, Poker88 (Read This method) July 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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