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Coming into the 2015 WSOP November Nine as the dominant chip leader is 24-year-old Joe McKeehen from North Wales Pennsylvania. McKeehen is an experienced live tournament poker pro with two WSOP Circuit rings and almost $3 million in total career earnings. McKeehen enters the November Nine with 63.1 million, more than twice as much as his nearest competition. McKeehen is known for keeping a low profile at events. In his own words he's “just chilling”. McKeehen has been a competitive stragey-game player for a long time and even won the world championship of the board game Risk in 2010. With skill, experience and a massive stack Joe McKeehen has a great chance at winning the $7.68 million first-place prize and becoming the next world champion of poker. Check out the full November Nine video interview with Joe McKeehen and check back on PokerListings in November to see how he does.
I'm from North Wales, Pennsylvania and I'm still there. I got into poker seeing it on TV before with my friends. We just started messing around and I ended up taking it way more seriously and kind of progressed. And as the years went on I realized there was a lot of money in this game if you're good at it so I tried my best to get good at it. When I was in college I made the decision that when I got out I was going to go professional and fortunately I've had a lot of success.
When I told my parents I was going to play poker professionally they weren't sure what it entailed. They were cautiously approving of it. Fortunately I had enough success early on that when they saw the money I was winning they were okay with it. And gradually they've turned into my biggest fans. They're coming out in November for sure. This will be the first time they've ever been to Las Vegas, the first time they've every watched me play live poker. So I'm sure it will be very exciting for them as well as myself.
If I didn't have success early on I think it would be very easy to get discouraged and give it up. Especially being in school at the time, I could have taken a more normal path so to speak, finish school and get a job out of school. But I generally enjoyed the game to the point where even if I didn't do well I still would have given it as long a shot as possible before giving it up forever. Fortunately that situation never arose and I sort of just shot up so I'm definitely in it for the long haul now.
I am the Joe McKeehen who won a Risk world championship. My mom got me into Risk especially because she always played in the tournament every year. She taught it to me at a young age to the best of her ability and I kind of just thought about it and I had fun doing it and just playing the game so I started going to the tournament every year too and one year I was fortunate enough to win it.
I'm going to hopefully win the poker world championship and it will be infinitely better than the Risk world championship. I think I was kind of born that way, trying to find the best strategy in whatever I was doing. Maybe my mom encouraging me at an early age helped shape me in that direction but anything in life, I always try to find the best possible route and in poker it's just the same way. I'm trying to find the best possible route to win all the chips. I'm trying to find the best possible route in this hand to play it the best way I know how.
Getting to the November Nine is definitely the most special thing that's happened to me so far and hopefully I can make it even more special in November. Besides that though, I understand that it's an opportunity I can't take lightly. I have to prepare. I have to come back ready to play. I have to do some studying. I have to get better at the game between now and then and I have to come back ready to go with my eyes on the prize.