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A Closer Look at the 2015 World Series of Poker November Nine

2015 WSOP November Nine

The 2015 World Series of Poker began with 6,420 players, who created a prize pool of $60,348,000, but after seven days of intense play, the final table is set. This year's November Nine includes an eclectic mix of players including circuit regular and chip leader Joseph McKeehen; 72-year-old Pierre Neuville, who is fresh off winning a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Poker Awards; and WSOP bracelet winner Max Steinberg.

Here's a look at the 2015 WSOP November Nine, with more thorough reports on each player below.

2015 WSOP November Nine

SeatNameCountryChipsBig Blinds
1Ofer Zvi SternIsrael29,800,00074.5
2Pierre NeuvilleBelgium21,075,00053
3Josh BeckleyUSA11,800,00029
4Max SteinbergUSA20,200,00050.5
5Thomas CannuliUSA12,250,00031
6Joseph McKeehenUSA63,100,000158
7Patrick ChanUSA6,225,00016
8Federico ButteroniItaly6,200,00015.5
9Neil BlumenfieldUSA22,000,00055

Seat 1: Ofer Zvi Stern (Israel) — 29,800,000 (74.5 Big Blinds)

It seems Israel is producing some pretty tough poker players these days, and 36-year-old Ofer Zvi Stern is no exception. The man from Herzliya became the second player from Israel to make the November Nine, following in the footsteps of Amir Lehavot, who finished third in the 2013 WSOP Main Event for $3,727,823.

Prior to his deep run in the 2015 WSOP, Stern $146,746 in live tournament earnings on his résumé. His previous best result came from a 34th-place finish in the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller for $44,540. He also had five prior WSOP cashes on record and one World Poker Tour cash. Since he reached the final table, Stern has added two cashes, including one at the 2015 WSOP Europe festival.

Stern currently sits 39th on Israel's all-time money list without his ninth-place money from the WSOP, but with at least $1,001,020 coming to him for making the November Nine, he is guaranteed to jump into fifth place.

Here's a look at how Stern performed over the course of the tournament:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips38,325180,000256,5001,751,0004,415,0009,940,00029,800,000
Rank2,211259308161182
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Seat 2: Pierre Neuville (Belgium) — 21,075,000 (53 Big Blinds)

Earlier this year, 72-year-old Pierre Neuville received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Poker Awards. During his acceptance speech, Neuville was appreciative, but humbly dismissive.

"The best is still to come, and it's never too late to win," said Neuville. "Thank you very much, but I'm sorry to tell you it's not achieved yet."

For most, a lifetime achievement award would be the capstone of their career. Not for Neuville, who hails from Belgium and has had a lifetime affair with games. In fact, Neuville seems to have saved the best for last as he finds himself fourth in chips in the 2015 WSOP November Nine.

Here's a look at how Neuville performed over the course of the tournament:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips79,625357,600299,000956,0007,105,0006,000,00021,075,000
Rank48616267771154
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Neuville first learned to play poker back in 1957, and spent a good deal of his time at Université libre de Bruxelles playing the game. He then took his fascination with games to the next level when he created his own game and toy company in 1969, one he'd sell 13 years later to Hasbro. Neuville would go on to become vice chairman of the company's European division before retiring in 2008.

For decades Neuville was unable to pursue poker – a stipulation of his high-ranking position – but as a retiree, he jumped into it full force by heading to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), ultimately finishing in 18th place for $48,000. From there, Neuville traveled the world playing in live poker tournaments, many of which he qualified for online at PokerStars, a feat that earned him the nickname "The Serial Qualifier."

Not including the money he'll take home in the Main Event, Neuville has amassed $2,174,187 in lifetime earnings, with his best cash of $385,041 coming after he finished runner-up to Kevin Eyster in the 2014 WSOP Event #24: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed. Other highlights on Neuville's résumé include a couple of other runner-up finishes in events including EPT6 Vilamoura for $383,962 and EPT8 Copenhagen for $282,843; as well as ninth in the EPT5 Sanremo Main Event for $103,199, first in a Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza III $2,200 No-Limit Hold'em Big Bounty for $79,080, and eighth in the EPT7 London £20,000 High Roller Event for $71,829.

Neuville currently sits second on Belgium's all-time money list behind Davidi Kitai ($6,215,644), meaning he would need to finish at least second in the Main Event to surpass him.

Follow Neuville on Twitter at @pierre_neuville.

Seat 3: Josh Beckley (Marlton, New Jersey, USA) — 11,800,000 (29 big blinds)

Josh Beckley is a 24-year-old poker pro from Marlton, New Jersey with $219,526 in lifetime cashes, with a career best $98,348 for winning the 2014 Parx Casino Big Stax VII $1,500 Event. His other five-figure scores include $53,564 for third in the 2015 Parx Casino Big Stax X $300 No-Limit Hold'em, and $33,932 for fourth in a $1,500 no-limit hold'em event two weeks later.

Beckley is a well-respected East Coast grinder who is friends with Aaron Mermelstein, so it's safe to say he'll have a strong support group between now and November.

Here's a look at how Beckley navigated his way to the final table:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips62,20084,600505,0001,021,0001,440,0003,745,00011,800,000
Rank970979996853227
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Follow Beckley on Twitter @joshua1beckley.

Seat 4: Max Steinberg (Oakland, California, United States) — 20,200,000 (50.5 Big Blinds)

Max Steinberg, 27, is the only bracelet winner in the November Nine. Originally from Fairfield, Iowa, Steinberg won his gold bracelet in the 2012 WSOP Event #33 $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em for $440,238. Steinberg topped a field of 2,795 in that event including a final table lineup of Ryan Laplante (7th-$56,372), David Nicholson (6th-$75,314), Dylan Hortin (4th-$139,258) and Matt Stout (3rd-$192,813).

Steinberg, who has an identical twin brother who also plays poker, used to grind full time, and he was quite successful at it amassing $1,936,457 in live tournament earnings, including $352,916 for a runner-up finish to Pascal Lefrancois in a 2010 WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event.

Other highlights on Steinberg's poker résumé include runner-up to Josh Hale in the 2012 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Main Event for $293,490; second to Isaac Hagerling in the 2013 WSOP Event #27: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Mixed Max for $231,501; and second to Jonathan Hilton in the 2013 Southern Comfort 100 WSOP National Championship for $219,799.

With such accomplishments it's a wonder why he would give up poker, but that's just what he did in favor of another game, daily fantasy sports (DFS), for the better part of a year. Ironically, DFS led Steinberg back to poker after he qualified for the Main Event by playing fantasy basketball on DraftKings.

Here's a look at how Steinberg navigated his way to the final table:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips26,300232,700616,5001,234,0004,285,0003,290,00020,200,000
Rank3,010110444614245
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Follow Steinberg on Twitter at @MaxJSteinberg. You can also learn more about Steinberg by watching this interview he did with PokerNews on Day 7 of the Main Event:

Seat 5: Thomas Cannuli (Erma, New Jersey, United States) — 12,250,000 (31 Big Blinds)

Thomas Cannuli is a bit of a dark horse, the sort of player you don't pay much attention to, but upon closer inspection you realize there's more to him than meets the eye. Maybe it's because he had a stable of big-name poker pros on the rail sweating him including Sorel Mizzi, Jeff Gross, Antonio Esfandiari, and Brian Rast.

Some, if not all, of those players have a rooting interest in Cannuli's success, and rumor has it the greatest Olympian in history, Michael Phelps, also has a piece. Often called "Holy Cannuli" and "Tommy Guns" by his friends, Cannuli hails from New Jersey and just turned 23 back in June.

"He's like a little brother, a protégé," Gross said of his man. Cannuli, a frequent visitor to Turning Stone and Borgata, who has $52,235 in live tournament earnings, including a 26th-place finish in the 2013 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza III Main Event for $13,473 and eighth in the 2014 WSOP Circuit Harrah's Philadelphia for $13,648.

In addition, Cannuli, who plays primarily cash games and online, has some Main Event experience. Last year he found himself fourth in chips after Day 2 (Phil Ivey finished as chip leader), and he ultimately went on to finish in 691st place for $18,406, his largest score to date (obviously not including what he'll take home for making the November Nine).

Here's a look at how Cannuli performed over the course of the tournament:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day ChipsDNR185,300584,5002,271,0005,070,0006,220,00012,250,000
Rank-2365758136
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Seat 6: Joe McKeehen (North Wales, Pennsylvania) — 63,100,000 (158 Big Blinds)

Since vaulting to the top of the counts on Day 4, 24-year-old Joe McKeehen of North Wales, Pennsylvania was a real contender to make the November Nine. With $1,995,070 in tournament earnings, McKeehen is among the most experienced players remaining in the tournament.

McKeehen, a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, learned to play poker right around the 2003 poker boom after watching the game on TV. Of course back then he wasn't legally old enough to play, but he still dabbled online before paying a visit to Turning Stone once he turned 18. Then, when he was 20, McKeehen notched his first six-figure score when he won the $2,150 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo side event at the PCA for $116,230.

Despite the score, McKeehen stayed in school at Arcadia University, a private university on the outskirts of Philadelphia, where he graduated with a math degree.

"I went back to school, so I didn't play during school," McKeehen previously told PokerNews. "And then, summer came, I forget what I did, and then I remember senior year, last semester of college, I went to Caesars in Atlantic City, ended up winning a big tournament there ($1,675 WSOP Circuit NLHE Main Event for $174,147). Then I had to go back to school and drag through it for a month, and it was terrible, but after that I was so excited. And after that I just started winning things, and hooray."

Indeed, McKeehen did start winning and last summer he notched the biggest score of his career when he finished runner-up in Event #51: $1,500 Monster Stack for $820,863. That, along with his live reading ability, are two things he credits for helping him make a deep run in his fourth-ever WSOP Main Event.

"If I see you're nervous, I can pick something up off that, online you can't do that," explained McKeehen. "I think a lot of people have experience, but since I have a lot of live experience it probably gives me an edge. I've definitely picked up reads on people, so I think that's something where I'll definitely have an advantage in in the future."

Here's a look at how McKeehen performed over the course of the tournament:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips33,225162,1001,052,0003,122,0003,660,00011,975,00063,100,000
Rank2,528336212041
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Follow McKeehen on Twitter at @dude904.

Seat 7: Patrick Chan (Brooklyn, New York, USA) — 6,225,000 (16 Big Blinds)

Patrick Chan is representative of the countless players who grind for a living, not necessarily making it big, but making enough to support themselves. He's also a testament that hard work pays off, because as a member of the 2015 WSOP November Nine he is guaranteed over $1 million.

It'll be far and away the biggest score of Chan's career, which dates back to 2010. That said, he has had his fair share of poker success, including two six-figure scores — $131,895 for finishing third in the 2012 Borgata Fall Poker Open Championship and $100,689 for a 12th-place finish in the 2014 WSOP Event #8: $1,500 Millionaire Maker. Chan also took home $71,449 in January of this year when he finished runner-up to Loni Harwood in the Parx Casino Big Stax $2,500 Championship.

Chan began his career playing multi-table tournaments online, but transitioned to live poker after Black Friday, though he admits he occasionally travels outside the country to play on PokerStars.

Here's a look at how Chan performed over the course of the tournament:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips81,90066,800300,500844,0002,105,0007,400,0006,225,000
Rank4271,1982659239118
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Follow Chan on Twitter at @pchanpoker.

Seat 8: Federico Butteroni (Rome, Italy) — 6,200,000 (15.5 Big Blinds)

For the second time in the history of the November Nine, Italy has a representative at the table. Following in the footsteps of Filippo Candio, who finished fourth in 2010 for $3,092,545, Federico Butteroni is the latest Italian to make it to the most prestigious final table in poker.

The 25-year-old Butteroni currently ranks 450th on Italy's all-time money list with $103,006 in lifetime earnings, but thanks to his impending payday of at least $1 million, he is guaranteed to vault into the top 20. If Butteroni happens to finish in either first or second, he'll actually pass Max Pescatori ($4,079,534) to become Italy's all-time money leader!

Butteroni actually earned the biggest score of his career earlier this summer when he finished 20th in Event #28: $1,500 Monster Stack for $45,633. His only other five-figure score came two weeks later when he took down a Rio Daily Deepstacks for $31,756. Butteroni has also notched cashes in faraway locales such as Perth, Australia and Rozvadov, Czech Republic.

Here's a look at how Butteroni performed over the course of the tournament:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips52,650200,500125,5001,507,0002,945,0004,980,0006,200,000
Rank1,3921875222131189
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

Seat 9: Neil Blumenfield (San Francisco, California, USA) — 22,000,000 (55 Big Blinds)

In 2012, Neil Blumenfield made a deep run in the WSOP Main Event, finishing 285th for $38,453, his largest score to date. Little did he know he'd return three years later and not only make a deeper run, but make it all the way to the November Nine.

Away from the table, the 61-year-old Blumenfield is a veteran of the software industry. Blumenfield, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, currently serves as President, Chief Operating Officer and a Director of Elastic Intelligence, Inc.

Before that he served as Vice President of Professional Services for Above All Software, Inc., spent seven years at Informix Software, four years at Visigenic Software, and served as Vice President, Professional Services at Andromedia, which was acquired by Macromedia.

In the poker realm, Blumenfield has amassed $130,468 in live tournament earnings including $37,749 for a fifth-place finish in the 2014 Heartland Poker Tour Lincoln Main Event; $15,930 for winning the 1st Annual State of Nevada Poker $1,000 Championship in Reno back in 2008; and $2,452 for finishing 268th in this year's WSOP Event #40: $1,000 Seniors Championship.

Here's a look at how Blumenfield navigated his way to the final table:

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
End-of-Day Chips36,825149,500370,500835,000570,0004,315,00022,000,000
Rank2,3154091909368203
Total Players Left4,3711,79666123769279
Chip Average44,063107,238291,376812,6582,791,3047,133,33321,400,000

The final nine players will now be on hiatus until November 8-10, which is when they'll return to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to play down to a winner. In the meantime, expect many of them to compete in other tournaments across the world as they look to take advantage of being a part of poker's most prestigious final table.

*Photo Credit: JOE GIRON/WSOP.

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  • The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event November Nine are set. Find out more about who made it here.

  • The 2015 WSOP Main Event November Nine is an eclectic mix of players. Check out our breakdown of the final table.

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