Joseph McKeehen Wins Caesars Atlantic City Championship
21-Year-Old College Student Wins First Gold Ring and $174K
WSOP Circuit's Last Stop on Jersey Shore Concludes
Atlantic City, NJ (March 11, 2013) – Joseph McKeehen put on the most dominant display of the 2012-2013 World Series of Poker Circuit season on Monday, winning the Main Event Championship at Caesars Atlantic City.
McKeehen made a shambles out of the poker proceedings, scorching the hopes of each and every would-be rival in his shining path to victory. Consider that when play reached the final table, the 21-year-old college student had nearly half of the total chips in play. The old line about everyone else “playing for second place” gets overused in poker tournament liturgy. However, if ever there was an appropriate use for the aphorism, it was most certainly the feature table of the Main Event in Atlantic City.
In fact, McKeehen was never in serious danger of elimination. Like an alley cat toying with its prey, the young semi-pro poker player from North Wales, PA made it rather obvious that the mice in the dispute had no real fighting chance. The rush of cards didn't hurt McKeehen's prospects either.
“I had everything go my way, that's for sure,” McKeehen said afterward. “What really helped was when I would get pocket aces, someone else would get a hand almost as good, and that's really critical because you need to get paid off when you get big hands. Fortunately for me, every time I had a big hand, it held up.”
McKeehen was being intentionally modest about his skill and the manner in which he dominated play. The final table took only about five hours, which is half the time-span which is customary for the championship finale. No doubt, McKeehen's ceaseless aggression combined with a fortuitous flurry of favorable cards forced the final – one might say, inevitable – outcome.
The new champion is a college student attending Arcadia University. He is majoring in math. Oddly enough, McKeehen is not quite sure why he's pursuing that major nor does he know what he plans to do with his degree, once he graduates.
“I enjoying math, I like to solve problems,” McKeehen said. “I'm not sure what I will do, but I am going to keep playing poker as long as things go well. If not, I might get into statistics or something like that.”
Indeed, McKeehen's poker option seems to be doing quite well for the moment. Not only did he collect a whopping $174,147 in prize money for first place, he also earned his first gold ring. McKeehen also earned an automatic seat into the WSOP National Championship presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof, which is to be played in two months in New Orleans.
Although McKeehen's WSOP experience is limited to a few events played at the tail end of last year's series (he turned age 21 in July 2012), he nonetheless had accrued 20 tournament cashes, including a huge $107K score down in the Bahamas (where the legal age is 18). Based on the record, we are likely to see McKeehen again – most certainly at the 2013 WSOP in Las Vegas.
“When I went out there (to the WSOP) at the end of last year it wasn't at all what I was expecting,” McKeehen stated. “It was much bigger than I envisioned. It is even more impressive. I can't wait to get back, but first, my focus is going to be on the National Championship.”
The three-day tournament attracted 540 players. The prize pool came to $810,000. The top 55 finishers collected prize money.
Tony Sinishtaj finished as the runner-up. The 32-year-old poker pro from Bronx, NY collected a nice consolation prize amounting to $107,673 in prize money.
The most noteworthy final table finishers were John Holley, who finished sixth, and Allie Prescott, who took ninth place. Holley has been on a roll the last three months, with a gold ring victory, a Casino Champion title, and five final table appearances. Prescott's legacy is even longer, dating back the first season of the WSOP Circuit. He's accumulated more than $900,000 in WSOP-related earnings over the course of his career.
Also of note was Hend Matthews' fifth-place finish. The cash game player from nearby Brigantine, NJ had a shot at becoming the first female gold wing winner ever here at Caesars Atlantic City and the first-ever female Circuit Main Event winner, but she came up a few positions short and finished fifth.
Among other players who cashed were Dave Fox, Matt Glantz, Christian Harder, Joseph Liberta, Grodon Eng, and Lana O'Brien.The final table finishers were as follows:1st Joseph Mckeehen - $174,147
2nd Tony Sinishtaj - $107,673
3rd Ido Ashkenazi - $78,659
4th Dennis Thurman - $58,312
5th Hend Matthews - $43,853
6th John Holley - $33,453
7th Robert Morgan - $25,880
8th Leo John Walker - $20,307
9th Allie Prescott - $16,160Here's more about the finalists and their finishes:9th Place – Allie Prescott was arguably the most experienced player of major tournaments among the final nine, but he wasn't able to overcome a serious chip disadvantage and went out in ninth place. Hailing from Memphis, TN, Prescott has nearly $1 million in WSOP-related earnings over the course of his career.
8th Place – Leo John Walker endured a see-saw final day, bouncing between being ranked among the top three in chips and being the shortest stack size. The commercial real estate agent from suburban Washington, DC enjoyed his best major tournament finish nonetheless, eclipsing a tenth-place finish in the U.S. Poker Championships in Atlantic City a few years ago. 7th Place – Robert Morgan is a New York-based poker player who previously worked as a concierge. 6th Place – John Holley, a semi-pro poker player and fisherman from Destin, FL was the player who had been the hottest on the WSOP Circuit coming into Day Three. This amounted to his fifth final table appearance in 2013, after winning a gold ring and the Casino Champion title at Tunica in January. He added another $33K to his winnings with a sixth-place finish.5th Place – Hend Matthews was the only female at the final table. She hoped to become the first female gold ring winner ever at Caesars Atlantic City and made an impressive run. The cash-game player from Brigantine, NJ ended up with her best WSOP showing, which paid nearly $44K.4th Place – Dennis Thurman is a 64 year-old truck driver from Fisk, MO. He hauled away $58K in prize money for his first WSOP in-the-money finish.
3rd Place – Ido Ashkenazi is an Israeli-born locksmith from New York who almost masterminded a gold ring victory. But he came up just short, finishing in third place – good fors his highest poker win ever.
2nd Place – Tony Sinishtaj played a marvelous tournament, outlasting 538 players. He wasn't quite able to seriously challenge the ultimate winner, due to being down by about an 8 to 1 margin when heads-up play began. Nonetheless, Sinishtaj could take great pride in his first six-figure score, worth $107K. He's 32-years-old and lives in the Bronx, NY. 1st Place – The day, the night, and the tournament belonged to Joseph McKeehen, from North Wales, PA. He won $174,147 and his first WSOP Circuit gold ring.Double gold ring winner Christopher Leong, from New York, NY won the Casino Champion race. He accumulated the most overall points in Caesars Atlantic City's twelve combined gold ring tournaments and received automatic entry into the $1 Million 2012-13 WSOP National Championship Presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof. Leong joins McKeehen, who also won an automatic seat into the event.