Hand of the Week: McKeehen Bats Blumenfield Aside

Neil Blumenfield Elim
And shortly after, Blumenfield was out.

There weren’t too many interesting hands at the final table of the WSOP 2015.

Main Event champ Joe McKeehen ran well but he’s also a great player.

He used his dominant chip lead well and was never at risk, and it was more than just luck that earned him the title.

On the last day of the world championship Neil Blumenfield tried to force him out of a hand but couldn’t tell a convincing story.

Flop to River

There are three players left in the November Nine and Joe McKeehen has already amassed 129 million chips for a massive lead.

Neil Blumenfield has 35 million, which is still good enough for the second largest stack as Josh Beckley only has 29 million.

The blinds are at 500k/1000k/150k. Beckley folds the button and McKeehen fills up with    

Now Blumenfield raises to three million, which McKeehen calls. There's 6.45 million chips in the pot. The flop is      

McKeehen checks, Blumenfield bets 2.2 million and McKeehen calls. There's now 10.85 million chips in the pot.

The turn is the  

McKeehen checks again, Blumenfield leads out for 3.5 million and McKeehen calls again. The pot has grown to 17.85 million.

The river is the  

McKeehen checks a third time and Blumenfield bets seven million. This does make McKeehen think. He tries to get Blumenfield involved in a little dialog but he is unresponsive.

Eventually McKeehen calls and Blumenfield has to show a complete bluff with    

That’s another 32 million that goes over to Joe McKeehen. It takes only a few more hands until Blumenfield busts in third place and McKeehen has no trouble winning the tournament.

Hand Analysis

Neil Blumenfield definitely shows a lot of courage in this hand but did he also play it well? Let’s see.

Pre-flop, McKeehen varies his game well and doesn’t go for the aggressive raise. Holding K-To he holds the best hand most of the time but he elects to just call.

Blumenfield tries to exploit that immediately and raises to 3m with his rather mediocre Q 8. This move doesn’t make a lot of sense as McKeehen is probably not going to call with a worse hand.

Blumenfield should probably just use his position and check with his mediocre hand. Q-8o is not a hand that wins a lot of big pots because it doesn’t offer a lot of possibilities for a hidden monster.

Joe McKeehen Day8
Not gonna call with worse.

Blumenfield Continues to Bite

On the T 6 3 flop McKeehen pairs his ten and then standard-checks over to his opponent.

Heads-up he’s ahead with top pair most of the time but Blumenfield did represent a strong hand with his pre-flop raise.

All the pocket pairs are in his range but also a lot of Broadway hands that didn’t hit this flop. And, of course, there are also the inevitable bluffs.

Blumenfield’s c-bet is standard as is McKeehen’s call. As he is usually ahead on this flop he doesn’t want to drive bluffs and worse hands away.

The turn is the 7, which almost never changes anything, so McKeehen calling the next bet from Blumenfield is again the correct move.

Blumenfield actually found a gutshot on the turn, and if a queen falls he’d probably also win, so bluffing here is acceptable.

He sticks to his betting story and he probably has seven outs.

Give Up or Not?

After McKeehen doesn’t budge on the turn the river 5 is an interesting card. It helps McKeehen’s range a lot more than Blumenfield’s.

Neil Blumenfield3
Give up or not?

However, from McKeehen’s point of view, this card bears some risk as any four now makes a straight and the club flush draw came in.

Checking again is the proper move and that applies to his full range.

Blumenfield has now already bluffed three times (pre-flop, on the flop, on the turn), and he’s facing a decision – should he give up on his hand or not?

If he checks he loses 8.7 million chips as he knows he’s definitely behind. But he would still be pretty much on par with Beckley in third place.

The other option for him is to bluff, but if he pulls this off he has to think about whether he can tell a credible story and what his opponent’s range is.

More Room Between Him and Rest of Field

McKeehen’s range has tens, sets and flush draws in it, which have all hit by now. He would probably fold all the other hands on the turn.

Blumenfield’s range on the other hand – think back to the beginning of our analysis – has mostly pairs and high cards in it.

McKeehen Win11
Good more than lucky.

All these are hands this board didn’t help much. If Blumenfield bets again he basically represents a set or a flush, whereas he would probably slow down with a hand like queens or ace-ten.

Thus, his bet often looks like a bluff. And if this hand hadn’t been so important McKeehen probably would have called even quicker.

At the end of the day the chipleader made the correct decision and put even more room between him and the rest of the field.


Blumenfield tries to push through at all costs in this hand but there are several holes in his story.

It all started with the pre-flop raise and, although he showed a lot of courage on the later streets, it didn’t pay off.

McKeehen didn’t go anywhere with the best hand -- partly because he could afford losing the hand without the fear of grave consequences.

Instead, he took a big step towards his eventual victory.

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