If you watched the Final Table of the World Series of Poker play out, you may be tempted to say Joe McKeehen won because he got good cards. But he also made all the correct decisions in some difficult situations that propelled him to victory and the $7.7M first prize.
WARNING: in-depth poker strategy coming up!
After McKeehen's appearance on "Power Lunch," he shared the thinking behind two key hands he played on his way to the title.
The first hand occurred very early in 3-handed play when McKeehen had a big, but not insurmountable chip lead on his opponents.
According to the hand history on wsop.com, McKeehen just called ("limped") from the small blind with king-ten and Blumenfield raised to 3 million with queen-eight.
The flop was 10-6-3, two clubs. McKeehen checked, Blumfield bet 2.2 million and McKeehen called.
The turn was a 7 of diamonds. Blumenfield bet 3.5 million and McKeehen check called.
It got interesting on the 5 of clubs turn that completed a flush draw. McKeehen checked once more. Blumenfield bet 7 million. McKeehen spent a long time thinking about it ("tanking") and eventually he called and won the huge pot.
Why did he call?
"The way I played it pre-flop, I thought I flopped a really strong hand so I think the flop and turn just are easy check-calls," McKeehen said. "On the river, I checked and it was a pretty scary card but I remember in a somewhat similar spot [the day before], based on the TV coverage, he wasn't betting with the hands that would represent a better hand than I had on the river. So I thought he was just -- I didn't think his story made that much sense. So I thought it would make more sense just for me to call because I thought he was more likely to show a bluff in that spot. And the way he was playing he was definitely capable of it."
A few hands later, another key pot played out between McKeehen and Blumenfield. Again, McKeehen limped in from the small blind but this time Blumenfield checked.
The flop came 4-3-2 with one club. This time McKeehen bet 1 million and Blumenfield called. Both players checked after the 10 of clubs hit the turn.
The river was the queen of clubs which gave McKeehen top pair, and a flush to Blumenfield. McKeehen bet 1.8 million and Blumenfield raised to 5 million.
McKeehen thought it over again, but this time he folded.
"His body language was slightly different and also I honestly didn't think he would bluff me twice in a row. And I thought in that spot his story made a lot more sense to have a bigger hand," McKeehen said.
So there you have it: Joe McKeehen studied his opponent, analyzed the situation, figured it out and made the correct decisions.
And that is how we won the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event.