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Six remain at WSOP Main Event final table

9 November 2015

By David Schoen
When Max Steinberg missed the online poker boom, he and his twin brother made a promise.

They weren't going to miss the next trendy, money-making opportunity.

"We saw daily fantasy (sports), and it's about two years ago, and it just seemed like it was going to be something that could really explode," Steinberg said. "And so, I sort of just really stopped focusing on poker and started focusing on learning how to beat daily fantasy. And I was able to quickly learn how to beat it and started making good money immediately."

Steinberg, a 27-year-old Las Vegas resident, earned his seat to the World Series of Poker Main Event by winning a $27 satellite on the daily fantasy sports website DraftKings in April.

Steinberg was one of six players remaining when play stopped in the 46th annual $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold 'em World Championship on Sunday night at the Rio's Penn & Teller Theater.

Steinberg was in fourth place with 16 million chips when play was halted at 10:30 p.m. Joe McKeehen of North Wales, Pa., was responsible for all three eliminations and owned a commanding lead with 91.45 million, more than half of the chips in play.

The Main Event, which drew 6,420 entrants, continues today at 4:30 p.m. (5 p.m., ESPN2) and is scheduled to pause when three players remain. The tournament will resume at 6 p.m. Tuesday (6:30 p.m., ESPN) when the winner of the $7.68 million first prize will be determined.

"I would say that two years into my online poker career I was not as skilled as I am two years into my daily fantasy career," Steinberg said. "But I've been playing poker for a really long time. I would hope that I have more skill in poker than I would in a game I've spent two years doing."

Steinberg was born in Washington, D.C., and his family moved to the Transcendental Meditation community of Fairfield, Iowa, when he and his brother Danny were eight.

The Steinbergs began playing online poker when they were still 17, sharing an account under their father's name. In 2008, a 19-year-old Max entered his first live tournament and finished second at a Latin American Poker Tour event in Costa Rica for $144,773.

Soon after, he dropped out of American University to become a professional poker player.

Steinberg has more than $1.6 million in WSOP lifetime earnings and is the only player remaining with a WSOP bracelet to his credit. He topped a field of 2,795 players to win the $1,000 buy-in No-limit Hold 'em event in 2012 for more than $440,000 and also was runner-up in two WSOP events in 2013.

"I think that the experience of having made multiple televised final tables is invaluable in this situation," Steinberg said. "I have a particular game plan about how to approach this final table that has to do with things I've noticed from playing other final tables, like how people approach them. Whether they play tight at certain times, when people start to loosen up, when you can attack people. Things like that that you're not going to be able to get a feel for unless you've been there."

With poker becoming increasingly difficult to beat, Steinberg turned to daily fantasy sports in 2014. He created a DFS strategy website (Dailyfantasywinners.com) with his twin brother and became a successful player, specializing in baseball.

"I've sort of always been a baseball fan," Steinberg said. "It's more to do with the numbers. My twin brother, actually, used to work at a high-frequency trading firm, and a lot of stuff he learned there actually translated into baseball specifically, so it was easy for us to pick up."

Steinberg won his seat to the Main Event, topping a 600-person field in a basketball contest on DraftKings. The one-time Oakland, Calif., resident stocked his lineup with reserves from Golden State on a night the Warriors rested their starters and didn't even have to sweat the outcome.

"I had like Shaun Livingston and Justin Holiday, who I don't even know if he's on the team anymore," Steinberg said. "I didn't do anything that was that special, but the fact I had like (DeMarcus) Cousins, who had a monster game, and Kyle Lowry basically put me over the top."

Steinberg, who has lived in Las Vegas since 2010, said he was not affected in the short term by Nevada's recent daily fantasy sports ban as he spent much of October playing poker in preparation for the "November Nine" final table.

But he said the Nevada Gaming Control Board's ban on unlicensed daily fantasy sports websites will likely force him to move out of state.

"I play daily fantasy for a living and I want to be able to do that," Steinberg said, "and if I can't do that from Nevada, it means that I can't be here."

The first day of the final table saw little action after McKeehen sent Patrick Chan of New York to the rail in ninth place on the second hand. Players spent several minutes to make decisions during hands, and there were few large pots contested.

Federico Butteroni, who started play as the short stack, went out in eighth place ($1,097,056). Pierre Neuville of Belgium, who was bidding to become the oldest Main Event winner at age 72, busted out in seventh ($1,203,293).

Neil Blumenfield and Ofer Zvi Stern were the most active players outside of McKeehen, as each increased his starting stack during the first five hours.

PLAY-BY-PLAY FROM SUNDAY

Action at the World Series of Poker Main Event was halted late Sunday as six players remained in the chase for the $7.68 million first prize.

Joe McKeehen of North Wales, Pa., increased his chip lead and will have a whopping 91.45 million, more than half of the chips in play, when the tournament resumes Monday at 4:30 p.m. at the Rio's Penn & Teller Theater.

McKeehen was responsible for all three eliminations on the first day of the "November Nine" final table. He knocked out Pierre Neuville of Belgium in seventh place at 10:30 p.m.

Ofer Zvi Stern of Israel is in second place with 32.4 million, while San Francisco resident Neil Blumenfield is third with 31.5 million. Blumenfield, 61, was the biggest mover on Day 1 as he increased his stack by nearly 50%.

Neuville, who was seeking to become the oldest Main Event winner in history at age 72, held ace-jack of clubs and was well ahead of McKeehen (jack-six of hearts) after he pushed in his final 3 million chips.

The queen-10-3 flop with two diamonds kept Neuville in the lead, but McKeehen continued run well and the final two cards were hearts to give McKeehen the winning flush.

CHIP COUNTS
1, Joe McKeehen (North Wales, Pa.) 91.45 million
2, Ofer Zvi Stern (Herzilya, Israel) 32.4 million
3, Neil Blumenfield (San Francisco) 31.5 million
4, Max Steinberg (Las Vegas) 16 million
5, Joshua Beckley (Marlton, N.J.) 10.875 million
6, Tom Cannuli (Cape May, N.J.) 10,425,000

McKeehen maintains large lead as action slows — 10:17 p.m.

The action continues to be slow at the World Series of Poker Main Event, as seven players remain at the second break of the night.

Joe McKeehen of North Wales, Pa., has used the big stack to his advantage and holds more than half of the chips in play with approximately 83.75 million. McKeehen increased his starting stack by more than 20 million chips as he knocked out Patrick Chan in ninth and Federico Butteroni in eighth.

Ofer Zvi Stern of Israel maintained his hold on second place with 34.27 million, while 61-year-old Neil Blumenfield of San Francisco made the biggest move through five hours of play at the Rio's Penn & Teller Theater.

Blumenfield is sitting on 31.3 million in chips, a nearly 10 million chip increase on his starting stack.

Italy's Butteroni knocked out in 8th place — 8:19 p.m.

Federico Butteroni of Rome was knocked out in eighth place at the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Butteroni, the second Italian to make the "November Nine," earned $1,097,056. He opened the final table with the shortest stack.

Butteroni was eliminated by Joe McKeehen as the chip leader opened the betting for 1 million chips and quickly called when Butteroni pushed his remaining 2.4 million.

McKeehen's ace-king of spades dominated the ace-jack offsuit of Butteroni, and the 6-10-3-9-7 board didn't improve the Italian's hand.

The pot pushed McKeehen's stack to 71.27 million, and he now holds about 44% of the chips with seven players remaining.

McKeehen holds big lead amid lots of 'tanking' — 8:05 p.m.

Eight players remained at the first break of the World Series of Poker Main Event on Sunday.

Joe McKeehen of North Wales, Pa., continued to hold a commanding lead with 69.575 million chips (139 big blinds). McKeehen was responsible for the only elimination at the final table, taking out Patrick Chan on the second hand after play resumed.

Ofer Zvi Stern of Israel was in second place with 27.8 million chips (55 big blinds), followed closely by Neil Blumenfield of San Francisco (27.325 million, 54 big blinds).

Belgium's Pierre Neuville, who can become the oldest winner of the Main Event at age 72, is fourth (24.075 million).

Following the early fireworks involving McKeehen and Chan, the final table has been marked by little action and plenty of "tanking," as players have taken several minutes to make a decision.

CHIP COUNTS
Seat 1: Ofer Zvi Stern — 27,800,000 (55 bb)
Seat 2: Pierre Neuville — 24,075,000 (48 bb)
Seat 3: Josh Beckley — 15,475,000 (30 bb)
Seat 4: Max Steinberg — 16,950,000 (33 bb)
Seat 5: Thomas Cannuli — 8,300,000 (16 bb)
Seat 6: Joe McKeehen — 69,575,000 (139 bb)
Seat 7: Federico Butteroni — 3,150,000 (6 bb)
Seat 9: Neil Blumenfield — 27,325,000 (54 bb)

Chan eliminated as Final Table gets underway — 5:15 p.m.

Patrick Chan of Brooklyn, N.Y., was eliminated in ninth place at the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Chan, who started the final table as one of the shortest stacks, was sent to the rail by chip leader Joe McKeehen on the second hand Sunday at the Rio's Penn & Teller Theater.

With action folded around to McKeehen, pushed all-in with ace-4 and Chan called for his final 5.77 million chips holding king-queen.
The board of 10-6-5-3-9 was no help to Chan, who earned $1,001,020, but will collect no extra money as all members of the "November Nine" final table were paid ninth-place money in July when the tournament paused.

With the pot, McKeehen is now holding 69.32 million chips, more than one-third of the chips in play.

Copyright GamingWire. All rights reserved.

Six remain at WSOP Main Event final table is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
 

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