At 5:08 p.m. local time in Las Vegas, the first hand was pitched to the remaining nine players in the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event. A surge of energy quickly followed, as short stack Patrick Chan called all in on the second hand played.
Chan was in the small blind with the and facing an all-in shove from the overwhelming chip leader, 888poker sponsored player Joe McKeehen. After the action folded to him, McKeehen had put the pressure on short stacks Chan and Federico Butteroni in the two blinds. Chan ended up making the call, and he saw that he needed to come from behind against McKeehen's .
A blank flop didn't draw many "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowd, and the on the turn wasn't much of a sweat either. The dealer burned one final time and dealt the on the river. That would be the final card in the 2015 WSOP Main Event that Chan would see, as he took his leave in ninth place for $1,001,020.
With such early fireworks, some might have expected more of the same. After all, McKeehen had a mountain of chips and could afford to get extra aggressive, Thomas Cannuli said he was going to come in playing to win, and Butteroni was still very short. But, play slowed down as the players settled in having earned an additional $96,000 in prize money.
With Butteroni low on chips after Chan's bust out, the Italian was looking to make a move. As it turned out, he didn't play a hand until Hand #21 when he moved all in from the cutoff seat for 3.2 million — or under 6.5 big blinds. Despite the small amount of chips he shoved with, Butteroni's push got through, and he turned to give an emphatic fist pump to his supporters behind him. It was later known that Pierre Neuville, who had tanked from the big blind, folded the with around 40 big blinds in his stack. Butteroni had the .
It wouldn't be until Hand #35 that Butteroni put his chips in again, this time after being blinded down to 2.4 million. After McKeehen had opened to 1 million on the button, Butteroni moved all in from the small blind. McKeehen called with the , and Butteroni had the dominated . Much like the first all-in situation with Chan, McKeehen faded all that he needed to on the board, and Butteroni was eliminated.
For his eighth-place finish, Butteroni scored just under $1.1 million. It also meant that Filippo Candio's fourth-place run in 2010 for just shy of $3.1 million remained the best for an Italian in the November Nine.
The eliminations of Chan and Butteroni also marked the fifth time that the two shortest stacks to start the WSOP Main Event final table were the first two to bust, dating back to 2004.
With that, McKeehen moved to over 70 million in chips and had just about 40 percent of the chips in play. As if it was ever in question before, the tournament now looked to be McKeehen's to lose more than ever.
Stay tuned for more updates from the 2015 WSOP Main Event right here on PokerNews.
*Photo courtesy of Jamie Thompson/888poker.