Q&A with 2015 WSOP Main Event champ Joe McKeehen

The champ is here! In one of his first interviews since the summer, McKeehen talks about his Main Event win and that hand with Negreanu

PokerPlayer: Congrats Joe on an amazing win and an incredible final table performance – one of the most dominating ever. How does it feel now you’ve had time to reflect on it?

It feels really good, man. It feels like my hard work has paid off.

Going back to Day 7 it seemed like the whole poker world was rooting for Daniel Negreanu to make the November Nine. Were you aware during that hand what a big moment it was or were you just focused on your own performance?

It was a big moment but I didn’t care. If I got to rid the world of Negreanu in order to make my chip stack bigger, I would happily do it. I wasn’t there to please the crowd.

Where do you stand on the November Nine delay and splitting the action across three days? Would you prefer to play it out as a standard tournament or did it help to have a break?

Four months is too long. I was ready to go back and play after about a month. The delay has benefits but they need to cut the wait time down. Playing across three days was fine – the days were short and we started late anyway.

After the 2014 final table Martin Jacobson told us that he prepared thoroughly during the break. Others, like Mark Newhouse, did nothing. Where do you stand on that scale?

I did a little bit of stuff. I spent something like ten days with my coach preparing by doing simulations and watching WCOOP final table replays on YouTube. We went over spots that might happen and we wanted to be prepared in case they popped up. I didn’t encounter a lot of resistance on the final table so I don’t know how useful it ended up being but it’s something I’ll have for the rest of my life.

With such a big chip lead you must have gone in thinking that only first would make you happy. Did that come with its own unique pressure?

No, and it’s probably the dumbest question I’ve been asked over the four months (and I’ve been asked it a lot!). I’m not going to be the person at risk most of the time. If you want pressure, ask the guys who can bust on any given hand.

Running good and playing well – it seemed like it was the perfect final table for you. Did it feel easy?

It wasn’t easy. Everything went my way but all of those guys played great. Who knows what would have happened if a few things hadn’t gone my way? It would have looked like more of a battle and I may or may not have come out on top.

You seemed to very relaxed in front of the TV cameras – is that something that just doesn’t phase you?

I was just there playing poker. The television cameras were there to film me doing what I do. It’s just an added dynamic that other players might crack under.

Is there a single hand that you’d look back to as defining the 2015 WSOP Main Event for you?

The hand against Josh Beckley on Day 6 when I had A-Q against his A-K. [McKeehen was all in pre op and at risk. The board came down K-J-4-6-T and he spiked the straight to stay alive.]

You were asked afterwards whether you were ready to be the next poker ambassador and you said, ‘We’ll see’. Does it annoy you that there’s an expectation to go down this route after winning this particular tournament?

888poker has been a strong supporter and I will continue doing interviews like these. At the end of the day I am my own person and enjoy playing poker.

You got through a bigger field at the Monster Stack last year – how did the two tournaments compare for you?

I can’t compare a $1,500 to a televised $10k that I waited four months to play. Obviously they’re different. I’m just playing poker in both of them and trying to win.

What are your plans for 2016? You’ve cashed almost exclusively in the States with a PCA and a Canadian WPT thrown in. Might we see you on the EPT?

I doubt it, I don’t care to travel.

What’s the single word that you’d use to describe yourself following the Main Event win?

(Still) myself.

PokerPlayer is the world’s biggest and best poker magazine and you can read it free every month HERE

Pin It

Comments are closed.