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WSOP: McKeehen turns short stack into second bracelet

Everybody in the poker world remembers the moment Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, but in 14 editions of the series since then, he’s failed to win that elusive second bracelet.

In fact, of all the players to win the Main Event since Moneymaker, only three had broken through to add another bracelet to their trophy case (Joe Cada, Jonathan Duhamel and Greg Merson).

That all changed late on Wednesday night at the Rio, when Joe McKeehen – the world champion in 2015 – mounted a miraculous comeback to win Event #38: $10,000 Limit Hold’em.

When the third and final day of play began yesterday, McKeehen found himself in 14th place out of 15 remaining with just 84,000 chips – good for less than four big bets. With defending champ Ian Johns (11th place - $21,318) the only shorter stack, and multiple bracelet winners like Daniel Negreanu (13th place - $17,894), Shaun Deeb (12th place - $21,318), J.C. Tran (fifth place - $71,949) and Ben Yu (fourth place - $97,904) all holding much larger stacks, McKeehen had his work cut out for him.

But as he told the PokerNews live reporting team after the win, in the game of Limit Hold’em, even a micro-stack is no matter when the cards cooperate. 

And after McKeehen navigated his way to three-handed play, the deck did its job – and then some.

McKeehen got the last of his stack in the middle holding Ac-7s for two pair on the turn, with the board reading Jc-8c-7h-Ah. Veteran pro Sorel Mizzi (third place - $135,985) had him crushed, however, with Jd-Jc for a flopped top set.

Down to just two outs for his tournament life, McKeehen needed an ace and an ace only – so when the dealer slid the Ad onto the felt, the assembled audience let loose oohs and aahs accordingly.

McKeehen was still the shortest stack with three players left, but with 17 first-place finishes to his credit at that point (as opposed to 11 runner-up runs), the man is a closer, plain and simple. He finished off Jared Talarico (second place - $192,717) in a heads-up match that lasted barely an hour, pocketing $311,817 for his efforts.

But by adding his name to the short list of modern Main Event champions to win their second bracelet, McKeehen won much more than the money on this day.

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